In advance of the 2009 Open Championship, Turnberry’s Ailsa Course has undergone a number of adjustments designed to ensure that, as one of Britain’s finest links, it continues to challenge modern professionals. The most extensive changes are on the 10th, 16th and 17th holes, though most have been enhanced in some way.
“Today’s professionals are bigger, stronger, fitter, have more technology at their command, and it’s very important that we keep our great links courses relevant to the modern-day professional,” explained The R&A’s chief executive, Peter Dawson. “We’ve been doing that at every Open venue, with Turnberry having had a considerable number of changes since the 1994 Open Championship.”
The 10th has been redesigned to bring the coastline into play and now requires at least a 200-yard carry over the rocks from a tee perched on an outcrop by the lighthouse. The fairway has been moved closer to the beach to tempt longer players to cut off more of the corner, and three new fairway bunkers force a decision to be made between safer tee-shot with a longer approach or a riskier, braver and more aggressive drive.
Significant changes have also taken place at the 16th and 17th. The shape of the 16th has been radically altered and it now dog-legs right from a re-positioned tee around newly-created dunes and hollows. 45 yards have been added along with a new bunker on the left of the fairway. The bunker, which used to guard the left side of the old fairway, now protects the right edge of the new one.
The realignment of the 16th has allowed a new back tee to be constructed on the 17th, extending the hole by 61 yards. A newly-constructed approach bunker, along with another to the front and left of the putting surface, adds difficulty to the second shot.
Including those on the 10th and 16th, a total of 23 bunkers have been added on holes 1, 3, 5, 8, 14 and 18, with two removed at the 3rd and 14th, making players think more about their course management strategy. Though many Open Championship courses have upwards of 120 bunkers, Turnberry still only has 65, testament to the natural test that the landscape provides.
New tees have also been introduced at holes 3, 5, 7, 8, 14, and 18, extending the course to 7204 yards, 247 yards or 3.5% longer than when The Open was last played at Turnberry in 1994.
The Open Championship takes place from 16-19 July 2009.
Tickets are still available through www.opengolf.com or +44 (0) 1334 460010.