Officially opening the new Turnberry Hotel and redesigned Ailsa Course owner Donald Trump said the venue was now one of the ‘great resorts’ of the world which he will cherish and take care of.
Mr Trump, billionaire businesman and Republican nominee for American president, had flown into Turnberry early on Friday morning to officially open the hotel and course after a multi-million pound refurbishment.
The project, led by renowned architect Martin Ebert, saw changes to five new holes on the Ailsa Championship course and changes to the layout.
The course, which last hosted The Open Championship in 2009 was lengthened by 150 yards to over 7,350 yards though retaining its Par 70 status.
Changes included making the existing par four ninth hole a stunning par three over Turnberry Bay which is being described as “one of the most exhilirating par threes in world golf”.
The tenth hole is a par five around Castle Port Bay with bold golfers able to tackle a 280-yard drive from the championship tees across the bay.
A new green was pushed back to the 11th tee, with the 11th hole becoming a newly designed par three utilising Turnberry’s coastal stretch.
Other changes include a lengthened par five 14th hole which will have a green on the site of the old ninth fairway, a shortened par three sixth hole, a new stone bridge over the ‘Wee Burn’ at the 16th, a lengthened opening hole to encourage more attacking play and the 18th hole lengthened and straightened with a new championship tee on the dunes, giving players a full view of the hotel as they tee off.
The clubhouse has also undergone a £10m refurbishment, featuring the Duel in the Sun restaurant as well as many new ballrooms and suites at the hotel.
Officially opening the course in honour of his mother, Mary MacLeod, who was born in Stornoway, Mr Trump said the changes had made the course and hotel a tribute to both Scotland and the world of golf.
He said: “It’s an honour to be here with you. My mother was born in Scotland, she loved it here, she would come here with her friends, and to think that one day we would be here opening Turnberry is something incredible.
“We have taken the lighthouse, a landmark in Scotland and made it something really special. It is now the half way house on the course. When we bought it, it was in disrepair, but now it is hugely better than what it was.
“The Royal and Ancient Golf Club have been incredible. They worked with us on the design. they have wanted to do these changes for probably 50 years. We have made changes to the fourth, ninth, tenth and eleventh holes. This will have the greatest par three in the world, hitting into the ocean.
“My son Eric has been in charge of this job and I want to congratulate him. The hotel will be one of the great hotels in the world. When we bought it, it was in a dilapidated state. We went back to the original designs, the plans from 1906. there are magnificent rooms, they have been fully restored as they were cut in half some years ago.
“it is one of the most beautiful buildings in the whole of golf. When you are looking down the 18th fairway it is considered one of the most beautiful views in golf.
“We have had so many great champions and great tournaments, and the single greatest tournament in history, the Duel in the Sun. we have listened to the Royal and Ancient and did what they wanted us to do.
“It’s the location, that’s why they all want to come to Turnberry.
“I want to thank general manager Ralph Porciani. The previous owners told us he was the most talented hotelier they had ever met and we appointed him manager. The hotel opened two weeks ago and it has been amazing. The contractors have done a great job.
“The hotel is built to the highest standards of luxury, and the course is built to the highest standards of tournament golf. We are going to cherish it and take care of it.
“It’s one of the great resorts of the world. The reviews of the course have been phenomenal, even people who truly hate me say that it is the best that it has ever been. It’s so special, it’s a great tribute to Scotland and a great tribute to the world of golf.
Eric Trump said; “Our father has put tremendous trust in us and it’s so nice to see this vision come to fruition. We are really proud of what we have created and I have to thank all our great members.”
The course last hosted The Open Championship in 2009 when 59 year old Tom Watson came so close to winning a historic 6th Open Championship, before being edged out in a play-off by fellow American Stewart Cink.
Watson won the first Open Championship to be held at Turnberry in 1977, when he won the legendary ‘Duel in the Sun’ battle against Jack Nicklaus.
Other winners of The Open at Turnberry were Greg Norman in 1986 and Nick Price in 1994.