Sunday, 26 December 2010

Turnberry

 
The 11th - a hole that looks best backwards 

Turnberry is considered by many to be the best Links course in the UK. The course sits on what may be one of the best sites imaginable with dunes, rock cliffs and a remarkably long stretch of ocean to work with. It may be the most scenic of all the British Open layouts looking down upon the ocean, the lighthouse on the point and the rock of Arran out in the distance. There is no place quite like it in the UK.
 
But in my mind this is the one great links course where the routing did not achieve the best possible course. The openers are average. The stretch from 4 through to 10 is quite exceptional – although the famous 9th hole is one of the most overrated holes in golf. That said – there were even better holes out there in that stretch. But I find once you leave the 10th green, there are one or two nice green sites but the rest of the golf course is decidedly average. I’ve always been perplexed that no holes play towards the ocean - yet a couple of tees clearly play away from the ocean. I also can’t figure out why the course did not figure 8 in the routing to bring players in and out of the water (although it must be pointed out this is pretty much standard in routings of links courses along the ocean).
 
What most people really like – and the players will like this week - is my biggest criticism of the course. Turnberry plays relatively flat in comparison to most links – and that’s what strong players enjoy – its also why it yields very low scores. The rumpled land that makes courses like St. Andrews and Prestwick fun to play (or confounding too) is largely missing and in its place are long sweeping contours and often flat areas where a perfect lie is possible.
 
For me, the golf course plays a little too straight forward and relies too much on the wind and length – and lacks the quirk or chance that usually comes into play.

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