It’s been 15 months since Tom Watson’s dramatic second place finish in the Open Championship at Turnberry and the resort
is still feeling the buzz. The almost-greatest
moment in the game’s history--during a major championship which Turnberry has now
hosted four times--only reinforced the resort’s
reputation for bringing out the heroic in the
world’s best golfers.
The iconic hotel, part of the Luxury Collection within Starwood Hotels, underwent a
major renovation that debuted the Saturday
before last year’s Open. The work included a
significant upgrade of 40 guest rooms, as well
as completely renovated public areas.
London-based designer Mary Fox Linton
brought back the look and feel from the hotel’s
opening days in 1906 to the main reception
area, creating entrance views straight through
large windows onto the championship course
and the Ailsa Craig in the distance. The stunning landscape perspective, enjoyed especially
during traditional afternoon tea, is also soni-cally enhanced by a bagpiper who plays each
evening at dusk.
While timing of the renovation project’s next
phase is yet to be determined, other changes
have already gone into effect, especially involving the golf offerings. An enhanced customer
service program involving caddies (who number just over 100) and clubhouse staff has been
implemented and new golf carts are available.
Euan Grant, who took over as superin-
Turnberry Resort's Ailsa Course, Hole 10
tendent last year from the legendary George
Brown, has brought a fresh set of eyes to the
famous layout. In addition to the standard
gorse maintenance, new bunkers and increased
length created for The Open remain in place on
the Ailsa Course.
On the adjacent Kintyre course, new bunkers have been added on the left side of the
par- 5 opening hole and on the left hand side
of the par-four 11th. The Colin Montgomerie
Links Academy continues to help visitors
learn the basics of links golf.
But it’s on the Ailsa’s famous closing hole
where one particular shot gets most of the
attention. “We get questions about Watson’s
shot every day,” says director of golf Chris Card.
“Guys will come off the 18th green and ask if
someone can show them exactly where it took
place. So I’ll say grab your putters, take them
over, and try to recreate the situation. I’ve only
seen a couple of guys make it, but that’s with-
out the pressure of an Open championship on
Card’s other favorite memory from that
week came on Saturday, when a number of
pros were in the hotel’s main bar watching
events unfold on television as Watson made his
charge. “When he came up 18, everyone in the
stands stood up and clapped,” recalled Card.
“And even these guys, fellow pros, walked out
the front door onto the veranda and clapped
for him to show their appreciation. That’s
what golf does. It’s a gentleman’s game.” And
there may be no finer place to experience it in
Scotland—or anywhere else for that matter—
than at Turnberry.
The news in this underrated golf region just east
of Edinburgh comes mainly off the course. While
the Macdonald Marine in North Berwick and the
Kilspindie House Hotel in Aberlady are more than
worthwhile accommodation options, an old favorite
is now available again. Greywalls Hotel, overlooking
the ninth green of famed Muirfield, has reopened after serving for a few years as a rental property. With
23 en suite bedrooms and the new Chez Roux restaurant, by celebrated French chef Albert Roux, the
structure dates back just over a century and provides
a serious level of luxury. A short drive away, exclusive
Archerfield Golf Club is now offering new choices to
rest your bones with new and lavish golf lodges, each
part of a residential membership offering that comes
with six nights accommodations and 12 rounds of
golf on one of the club’s two courses. Located between
Gullane and North Berwick, the club is known for
stellar course conditions and a sprawling clubhouse.
Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie celebrated
the opening of a new design at Rowallan Castle
this past May, just 18 miles south of Glasgow. It’s
the first design for Monty in his native country and
measures up to 7,000 yards with a restored 13th
century namesake. Another new course, to be called
the Ayrshire Golf Resort, is under development
just 15 minutes away from Rowallan. Led by the
same investment group that created Machrihanish
Dunes, plans here call for a links course and 4-star
hotel overlooking the beach at Irvine Bay.