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Trump Turnberry Golf Resort

A glimpse of the famous and not-so-famous golf courses of Scotland

By Blaine Newnham

The first thing you see arriving at the made-over Trump Turnberry Golf Resort on the West Coast of Scotland is a garish, 25-foot, Roman-styled fountain smack in front of the clubhouse.

My gosh, you wonder, what has The Donald done to the great old track that saw Tom Watson beat Jack Nicklaus in the British Open's revered Duel in the Sun in 1977.

And, more recently, Watson's near victory in the Open as a 59 year-old. Surely Trump was trod ding on tradition.

We knew in Scotland there was general contempt by locals - farmers, environmentalists and those who generally didn't like Trump's American manner - for Trump's built-from-scratch Trump International near Aberdeen.

Especially as he showed no respect for places like St. Andrews and Muirfield by claiming his course to be the best in the world when no one else had.

But if you needed evidence that Trump could shelve his ego to get things done correctly, then Trump Turnberry - changing the name was his idea, of course - might be exhibit A.

This course - not Trump International - could vie for Scotland's best, if not the world's. And that's the truth.

Turnberry - it's hard not to still call it that - has always afforded the most dynamic views of the coast among the best Scotland courses, and in my opinion is easily the most grand of the old Open layouts.

I first saw the course in 1986 when Greg Norman won the Open Championship. It was not a quirky links course, but rather something to match the 5-star Edwardian hotel on the hill.

Trump, who bought the three courses at Turnberry and the majestic hotel looking over them in 2014, has said he spent $290 million for the property and the

If you wonder how he can spend that kind of money and eventually make money, well, an investigation by the Reuters news service concluded that he couldn't.

But there is simply no question that the improvements to the heralded Ailsa course have given Trump and his resort an almost Pebble Beach aura.

The glistening waters of the Firth of Clyde were always there but the course simply didn't make use of them.

Now, walking to the fourth hole, a slick par 3, you look down on the beach, see and hear the waves.

Trump wanted more looks at the Firth, but more than anything he wan†ed to stay a fixture in the Open rota.

The redo comes together out near the statuesque lighthouse where the ninth hole was transformed from a par 4 to a par 3 as Gary Player had long suggested it should be.

Up next comes a beautiful, banana-shaped par 5 that curves majestically around the bay. The 11th - a tricky par 3 over rocks and water - completes the trifecta that is being compared to Amen Corner at Augusta.

Not to be outdone by nature, Trump also spent big bucks making two resort rooms in the lighthouse replete with a 24-hour butler.

The course is just more grand and certainly better than it ever was. No one should challenge the bones of Turnberry. People suggested the back nine was bland but don't tell that to those who still celebrate Watson's win over Nicklaus in 1977 and sympathize with his sad loss in 2009 as a 59-year-old.

Trump talked to officials at the R&A about what it might take to keep Turnberry on the rota roles for the Open. He was convinced for all the right reasons that sticking with local and loyal architect Martin Ebert would be the best way to understand what Turnberry was and what it could be.

It was amazing how much they accomplished in the nine months of 2016 it was closed.

The result was better sight lines for both the players and spectators. Better playing surfaces, too. To top it off, the riveted facing on the bunkers was refurbished in classic style.

Trump's youngest son, Eric, oversaw the redesign of the Ailsa course.

Ebert, the architect, is part of an English firm that has also worked on Royal Troon and Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

According to the industry's Golf Course Architecture magazine, `all eighteen holes on the course - which has hosted the Open Championship four times - have been changed, with the most notable work on the coastal stretch from the fourth hole to the 11th.

"Holes four, six, nine and 11 now all play as par threes, and each has been changed substantially to make the most of the coastal setting.
The dramatic 10th hole has been extended to a par five, with the green now occupying the site of the old 11th tees, on the sea edge."

How good is Turnberry? It's one of those few courses where paying $275 a round could seem worth it. It has the smooth face of a new links course - like Kingsbarns or Castle Stuart - but also a history to match that of Royal Troon or Carnoustie.

And then there is the resort looking over the whole project, magnificent the way Cruden Bay was years ago and Gleneagles is today. Among the great Scottish courses I prefer quirky and funky, but Turnberry was nearly too good to be true.

Put your politics and sensibilities aside. This one is a winner.

Revised: 03/20/2017 - Article Viewed 1,738 Times

About: Blaine Newnham

Blaine Newnham Thirty five years as a sports columnist - last 23 in Seattle - during which he witnessed five Olympic Games as well as Tiger Woods four consecutive major championship victories. He covered Willie Mays when he played for the San Francisco Giants, Steve Prefontaine when he ran for Oregon, Ken Griffey Jr. when he debuted for the Seattle Mariners. He walked 18 holes with Ben Hogan at the 1966 U.S. Open, and saw Larry Mize chip in to beat Greg Norman at the Masters. He has written two books, including Golf Basics for Barnes and Noble and played everywhere from Ballybunion to Bandon Dunes, his most recent trip in May, a nine-rounds-in-seven-days gambol from Dublin to Northern Ireland and back. He and his wife, Joanna, live in Indianola, Wa.

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