Renovated Ailsa golf course at Trump Turnberry Resort in Ayrshire, Scotland: Better than ever

AYRSHIRE, Scotland -- Keep politics out of your decision whether or not to play the Ailsa Course at Trump Turnberry Resort.

Play it simply for your love of the game. One of the world's great links has emerged from an eight-month renovation better than ever.

Donald Trump's decision to hire Martin Ebert to redesign Turnberry has rejuvenated the iconic links along the Ayrshire coast. The Ailsa Course, which reopened June 1, is now ready to host The Open Championship for a fifth time, should the R&A ever decide to do business with the resort's controversial American owner.

Ebert altered every hole in one way or another, sometimes restoring original bunkers lost to time or at the most extreme, creating new holes altogether within the layout's original footprint. The 7,489-yard course went from having two par 5s and four par 3s, to four par 5s and five par 3s with par adding up to 71 for everyday play. He added length on every hole except the new, par-3 sixth hole and the re-positioned, par-4 17th hole.

The most inspiring changes brought the eight-hole stretch from no. 4-no. 11 more in harmony with the seaside cliffs that make Turnberry so special. The new green on the par-3 fourth hole has been pushed toward the coastline to play over a beachscape. The relocated fifth green, the end of a par 5, sits in a valley behind the old one, creating a natural amphitheater for spectators.

A new spectacular walking trail above the beach reveals a short-but-tough par 3 at no. 6, which is difficult in the winds off the water. The seventh hole has been extended into a par 5 with a diagonal fairway through the dunes, forcing players to choose a proper line off the tee to carry the trouble.

The new 248-yard, par-3 ninth hole, once a par 4, sits in the shadow of the Turnberry Lighthouse, which has been converted into a halfway house and luxury two-bedroom suite. The dramatic, new 10th hole -- stretched into a 565-yard par 5 -- traces the coastline to a green near the old 11th tees. The 11th hole, a new 215-yard par 3, is perhaps the biggest improvement. The old par 3 aimed inland, but the new one provides one more shot along land's end.

Trump has added signature looks found at his other clubs near the upgraded clubhouse -- a mammoth Scottish flag and a fountain out front. Love them or hate them, they won't interfere with the inspiring views once you're out on the golf course.

Before you tee off, look offshore to the rocky Ailsa Craig. If you can see it, congrats are in order: You'll be treated to good weather on one of the most revered links golf courses in Scotland.

Aug 10, 2016

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Jason Scott Deegan

Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.