BEST LINKS IN BRITAIN; GOLF SALUTE TO A TRUE GREAT; Trump's new-look Turnberry has taken famous Ailsa course to a whole new level.
WAVES crashing on the rocks below Turnberry's iconic lighthouse will now be drowned out by the thumping of many a golfer's racing heart.
The famous Ailsa Course reopened yesterday after an extensive facelift and the result has been quickly hailed a triumph by those lucky enough to have enjoyed a sneak preview of architect Martin Ebert's work.
No hole has remained untouched with every green rebuilt within a staggeringly short eight-month window through the worst of Scotland's winter weather.
But the most significant changes are the addition of three new holes and the realigning of the 18th specifically to provide a more stirring finish for the Open Championship.
An exact figure has not been put on the cost of this massive overhaul but it already looks like money well spent by Turnberry owner Donald Trump.
Say what you like about the US Presidential candidate's politics - and this paper has said plenty to condemn his extreme views - but the man knows what makes a good golf course. Actually, scratch that. A GREAT golf course.
Trump felt he delivered on his vow to build "the greatest golf course in the world" when he descended on the dunes of the Menie Estate in Aberdeen - at Turnberry he has done even better.
Ranking wonderful golf courses is as futile as comparing Scarlett Johansson against Angelina Jolie or the Mona Lisa to the Sistine Chapel - they are all things of beauty worthy of appreciation in their own right. But after being treated to a round on the reborn Turnberry it's hard to think of a golf course in the country that ticks more boxes than this place in terms of the test of golf, it's fairness and most of all its setting.
Designer Ebert, with a significant input from Trump himself, has carved a masterpiece atop these hallowed crags of Ayrshire coastline.
In my humble opinion it is now the best links course in Britain - and right up there among the best in the world.
Until Trump rolled into town, Turnberry's dirty little secret was always muttered in whispered tones.
Ailsa was no great shakes once you got round the turn.
After the initial thrill of meandering along the coastline up to the lighthouse and back down across the sprawling 10th suddenly everything got a bit bland and forgettable.
But driven by a determination to maximise the course's greatest strength - its proximity to the sea and that iconic lighthouse - Ebert has succeeded in maintaining the wow factor from first hole to last. The early part of the course hasn't changed dramatically apart from a muchimproved first green that lengthens the hole to a more modern challenge.
The par-three 4th is also slightly longer to a new green even closer to the beach that snakes along the front nine.
The first obvious change you encounter is the vast improvement of the 6th hole, transforming it from the worst hole on the course - a slog of a long par three on to a stupidly severe green - into a much shorter challenge that demands accuracy rather than brute force.
But it's at the halfway stage where the newborn Turnberry really comes to life. Ebert admits the new 9th was Trump's idea, born from a desire to maximise the cliffs and the lighthouse to create one of the most dramatic par threes in the world. He succeeded.
It will be interesting to see how the pros will handle the 200-yard carry from this tiny outcrop in a stiff breeze but fortunately I got it in a flat calm - and by some minor miracle got it on the green!
If you don't believe me the video is up on www.dailyrecord.co.uk but if the thought of this hacker hitting a green in regulation is surprising enough what awaits at the end of the hole is even more remarkable.
For the extensive revamp goes beyond the course and the enormous hotel with its resplendent red roof gleaming in the distance. The lighthouse itself has undergone a transformation to make it perhaps the most impressive halfway house bar in golf.
Players and hotel guests can sit inside or on the terrace out front, enjoying unrivalled views of Arran and Ailsa Craig while munching on a snack or supping a refreshing beer.
However, if you've got the money to really push the boat out you could always just stay the night in the two-bedroom suite they have converted in the upper level of the lighthouse.
They will even throw in your own butler - all for just PS3500 a night!
Back on the course a new vast fairway bunker harking back to the course's earlier design in 1954 dominates an extended 10th hole that Englishman Ebert hopes will be considered one of the most dramatic par fives in the world.
But as impressive as the 10th is, and as much as the 9th will hog the limelight, Ebert's finest moment is to be found at the new 11th hole.
It's another par three over rocky terrain towards a green tucked at the foot of a cliff face. Shorter and more intimate than the brash, brutish skelp over the cliffs at nine, it oozes charm and looks so damned pretty you could stand on that tee until sundown.
The new par-five 14th is a crucial link at the heart of the back nine, climbing up the hill for another close-up glimpse of the lighthouse as a timely reminder of the majesty of the place.
Not much change was needed to the 15th and 16th but the previously brutish 17th has been shortened and rerouted to accommodate the final flourish.
What was previously the least impressive closing tee shot in the Open rota is now a jaw dropper. Belting off the top of the dune straight towards the hotel in front with Ailsa Craig popping her head out of the sea 12 miles behind your back.
Holing out underneath a vast Saltire flapping proudly above you is a fittingly bold and proud way to finish.
Scotland's biggest flag marking the territory of its finest golf links.
The 11th hole now looks so damned pretty you could stand on that tee until sundown
TEST DRIVE Our man Euan tries out the new-look course in the Ayrshire sun
MAN WITH THE PLAN Architect Ebert has made the most of the stunning scenery, left, and turned
SHINING LIGHT The redesign makes the most of the lighthouse
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Jun 2, 2016|
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