In advance of the 2009 Open Championship, Turnberry's Ailsa course has undergone a number of adjustments designed to ensure that it continues to challenge modern professionals. The most extensive changes, which have been overseen by architect Martin Ebert of Mackenzie and Ebert, are on the tenth, sixteenth and seventeenth holes.
”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 R&A 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 tenth 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 sixteenth and seventeenth. The shape of the sixteenth 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 sixteenth hole has allowed a new back tee to be constructed on the seventeenth, 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.
New tees have been introduced at holes 3, 5, 7, 8, 14, and 18, extending the course to 7,204 yards, 247 yards longer than when the Open was last played at Turnberry in 1994.
For a detailed review of the Turnberry changes, including input from architect Martin Ebert, see our On Site article from April 2007.