The second course at Turnberry was renamed after the Martin Ebert renovation in 2016 and is now known as the King Robert the Bruce course. We wondered at the time where the name had come from and why it was changed from the Kintyre course. Thanks to the foreword in the KRB strokesaver, we now know the history.
The iconic Turnberry Lighthouse
The famous Turnberry Lighthouse sits on the ruins of the 13th-century castle of King Robert the Bruce, who was rumoured to have been born there in July of 1274, and who led the army which fought in the Battle of Bannockburn to deliver Scottish Independence in 1314. Another fact contained in the strokesaver is that the lighthouse was built in 1873 by Thomas Stevenson, the father of Treasure Island author, Robert Louis Stevenson.
One of the old runways
The original hotel, the Station Hotel was built in 1906, five years after the course opened. It hasn’t always been used as a hotel since then. During both wars, it was used as a convalescence hospital for war wounded while areas of the courses were flattened and runways built to accommodate a Royal Air Force Flying School. The runways are still visible today when playing the King Robert the Bruce course.
Now that we have established these facts and the short lesson on the area’s history, let’s talk about the course. It’s a par 72 layout from most of the tees and a 74 from the red tees. It ranges in yardage from 5767 to 7203 yards however we are playing from the white tees at just under 6600 yards.
The short-game practice area
Before you get to the first tee you pass the practice putting green, the driving range and an impressive short game area. We take the hint and spend 45 minutes hitting balls and putting before heading to the first tee.
The raised first green
At 541 yards, the first hole is a par 5 that doglegs left. Don’t be tempted to try and cut the corner as there are gorse bushes and rough all the way up the left side. There are three bunkers in the landing area and a further five in the second half of the hole. Play this as a three-shot hole to start with a par.
Holes 2 and 3 are possible birdie chances. The 2nd is a shortish par 3 with a two-tiered green and the 3rd, is a short par 4 with a wide landing area and a partially hidden green.
The natural look bunkering on the 4th
The 4th and 5th are strong par 4’s. The 4th is another dogleg left. The hole is framed by gorse bushes on both sides of the fairway. Again there are three deep fairway bunkers in the landing area and a further one on the corner which will catch the longer hitter. The green is bigger than it looks from the fairway and beware the hidden bunker on the right half of the green.
One of our favourites
The view back down the 5th
The 5th is one of our favourite holes on the front nine. At 450 yards, it’s no pushover. The line off the tee is just left of the two bunkers on the right. This leaves a long second shot into a green with three bunkers at the front. The green is 40 yards long so take enough club if the pin is at the back.
The 6th is a medium length par 3 with a large slightly raised undulating green. If you miss the green it’s a difficult up and down for a par. The 7th is a potential birdie hole. A decent drive up the left side will leave a short iron in. Keep your second shot left as it will feed into the centre of the green. Any shot up the right side of the green could run off to below the green and lead to a bogey or worse. The Ebert renovations on the first 7 holes have been subtle however over the next few holes, they are dramatic.
Drama and Beauty
What a view, the 8th green with Ailsa Craig as a backdrop!!
The 8th is now a visually stunning par 5 and a great birdie chance. It’s a pretty straight hole but it’s the views beyond the green towards the lighthouse and Ailsa Craig that make it a fantastic experience to play. A decent drive gives you a long iron or hybrid into a green which sits on the horizon. In our opinion, it’s probably the most photographed hole on the course. It’s simply stunning. Golf course views don’t get much better than this.
Don’t be short on your second shot on the 9th
The 9th is another cracker. It runs along the coastline and to make your second shot easier you have to hug the coastline with your tee shot. The further right you go the longer and more difficult your second shot will be. Your approach shot is played across a rocky gully to a green that you can only see the left side of. Make par here and it’s a great end to the front nine.
The Back Nine
The well-bunkered 10th green
The back nine begins with the lovely par 3 10th hole. It’s only 160 yards but it’s not an easy par. It plays slightly uphill so choose your club wisely. The green has run-off areas at the front and back and the putting surface is undulating.
Another cracking background on the tee shot on the 11th hole
The 11th is a stunning par 5 of over 550 yards. Aim up the right side of the fairway as the fairway slopes right to left. Anything down the left half can end up down a slope into the heavy rough or even the bushes. Even though it plays downhill, it is a three-shot hole for most so pick the right club to keep you out of trouble and leave a simple pitch shot into this large green.
Trust Your Yardage
The short 12th hole
The 12th hole is a visually deceptive hole. The bunker short is 15 yards from the front of the putting on this par 3. Trusting the distance is challenging as the green looks closer than it is. The centre of the green is your target, no matter where the pin is. If you end up in the bunkers right or off the green left, making par becomes very difficult.
Those bunkers shouldn’t be in play on your approach to the 13th
Holes 13 and 14 run in opposite directions. The 13th is a shortish par 4 and you get a great view of the entire hole from the elevated tee. The cross bunkers are well short of the green and shouldn’t really be in play. An accurate approach could produce a birdie putt.
The 14th is a par 5 at just over 500 yards. Your tee shot needs to be on the right half of the fairway to get a look at the green. Longer hitters can easily reach in two so it’s another potential birdie hole. The 15th is a strong par 4. From the back tee, it plays as a par 5 which usually signals that it’s a more challenging par 4. It’s another hole that completely surrounded by gorse bushes. The line off the tee is the left side of the fairway and you should aim at the left side of the green on the second shot to stay away from the bunker on the right side.
The Closing Holes
The 16th is the shortest par 3 on the course at 146 yards however it has an undulating green that slopes front to back and is protected by three deep bunkers. Aim at the middle of the green.
The 17th and 18th are strong finishing holes. The 17th is 424 yards and is a dogleg to the right. Don’t be tempted to cut the corner as there is heavy rough and a large sandy waste area on the right. Find the fairway and your second shot is slightly uphill. Don’t miss the green right as it’s a difficult up and down from there.
The second shot of the 18th with the Clubhouse and Hotel beyond
The 18th is a 512-yard par 5. Avoid the 12 bunkers on the hole, play it as a three-shotter and you should make an easy par. Hit it in any of the bunkers and par will be a challenge.
At a Glance:
- World class golf resort with 45 holes
- Outstanding hotel
- Large Spa with swimming pool
- 18 hole pitch and putt course
- Double ended driving range
- Numerous putting greens and short game area
- Separate clubhouse and large pro shop
The King Robert the Bruce is a championship standard course which anywhere else would be a standout. Here, it is overshadowed by the Ailsa course, due to its worldwide reputation However, it’s a fantastic second course at one of Scotland’s and the World’s very best golf resorts. In 2021, Golf World voted Trump Turnberry, no.4 in its Worldwide Top 100 Golf Resorts, who are we to argue with that!!
The Legendary Hotel
The famous hotel
We will start by saying that the hotel is one of my wife’s favourite hotels anywhere in the world. It is even better since the renovation by the current owner. Yes, it’s done in a particular style but the setting and the hotel deserve the opulent styling carried out by the Trump Organisation.
Our distinctively styled bedroom
The bedrooms are large and welcoming with an ensuite bathroom with both a shower and a bath, all gold fittings and accessories. Our room on this visit had an outstanding view down to the clubhouse, over the courses and to the sea and Ailsa Craig.
The view from our room
The Grand Tea Lounge
The Grand Tea Lounge and Bar is an excellent area to sit and enjoy an afternoon tea or just a drink or two. If you manage to get a window seat you can easily spend an hour or two gazing out over the pitch and putt course in front of the hotel and the courses and sea. On a sunny day, it is just wonderful.
We can say with certainty that we don’t think we have ever stayed in any hotel that has as many chandeliers as the one at Turnberry. It’s almost an obsession. There are chandeliers in the hallways, the lounges and in the ballroom where they serve breakfast.
The breakfast room
The breakfast at Turnberry is the stuff of legends. There is so much choice that if you stayed here for a week, you wouldn’t have the same thing twice. it is served in a buffet style but if you want something in particular, the staff and chefs are happy to take orders.
A Scottish Breakfast with a view
Local Produce and Local Staff
On this occasion, like most other times, we went for the Scottish Breakfast. It was excellent and very tasty. The hotel uses local suppliers to provide all the ingredients and the vast majority of the 350-400 staff (500 in high season) are local too, making the hotel the biggest employer for miles around. All these factors matter to the local economy and no matter your politics, the owner has made a substantial difference in the local area.
Staying and playing at Trump Turnberry is not for everyone. As you would expect at a 5-star, world-ranked golf resort, everything is charged at premium prices. But for those that can afford it, it is a wonderful resort to come and relax, play a round of golf or two and be pampered and well looked after by some of the best staff around. Until next time….
Thank you to Andy Barwell and Alex Narey of the Azalea Group for organising our visit and to Natalaigh Taylor at the hotel for looking after us.
Next up, we visit Rockliffe Hall, one of the best golf resorts in the North East of England
Jim Callaghan has been a Category One Golfer for over 45 years. Recently retired from Club Management, he now walks the fairways of some of the best golf courses in the UK, Ireland and Europe and writes about the experience of playing and staying at them for www.worldsbestgolfdestinations.com
Now in his 60’s, he is still carrying his bag, although maybe not for much longer!
If you would like Jim to write about your venue, email him at [email protected] or call him on 0044 (0) 78522 88732