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Mark Bourgeois

History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« on: December 23, 2006, 10:43:30 PM »
Last summer, we had an interesting back and forth regarding the routing of the Turnberry Ailsa.

Hereís the link to that thread: http://tinyurl.com/yj48qa

Ian Andrew and Tom MacWood (RIP) made a number of interesting comments and requests.  I finally have received permission from the club to share pictures and graphics from the official history that pertain to the routing.  A few questions regarding Mackenzie Rossís routing came up as a result of Donald Steelís comments.

Ian, I think the conclusion one draws from Rossís effort and routing is that he, too, might have seen stronger possibilities in the routing but might have been constrained by cost to work within the original frame of the Hutchinson course.  Most surprisingly, much of that prewar course, despite many reports over the years to the contrary, actually survived the conversion to an airport! Given cost constraints, this probably cast the die for Ross to utilize as much of the prewar footprint as possible, even as he designed entirely new holes within that footprint.

Three line drawings from the book show the progression of the routing.

Here is the routing for the original Willie Fernie course, 1901 -- the wall must have made for quirky play. Note the similarities of this original routing to that which came later; it began lower left, then moved to the sea for a stretch of holes before turning inward for good:



Next, the Cecil Hutchinson Ailsa, completed in 1938 -- again, note the general routing similarities to the other versions, in particular the Ross (this version did stretch the course by approximately 600 yards):



Lastly, the Mackenzie Ross Ailsa, 1951 -- notice how the runways hemmed in this routing, perhaps unsurprising given the preservation of much of the pre-war routing and the daunting expense of recreating linksland in those areas:



A few comments:
1. As these WWII-time picture show (plus the second drawing above), the course was far from a total loss. I found this very surprising as most accounts describe it as such.





2. Ross utilized much of Hutchinsonís routing, probably for reasons of cost.  In fact, the two routings look very similar.  But, working within this apparent constraint, Ross did much, much more than restore: he moved the 8 and 10 greens to the shore, for example, and placed eight holes along the coast against Hutchinsonís six.

3. Steel in the club history notes Ross made many improvements on the original / previous design.  Ross took the antebellum stream beds of the Hutchinson holes and carved out new holes with new greens. (It seems like you could make a case for some design credit to go to Hutchinson and even Fernie. But Steel believes full credit goes to Ross.  Although Ross worked within Hutchinson's footprint, he writes the holes were almost entirely Ross's.)

Mark

Craig Disher

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Re:History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2006, 11:08:56 PM »
Thanks for posting those. It's been stuck in my head that the course was obliterated by the airfield. Obviously not the case.

It seems like the photos must have been taken after the new course was built, not during WWII. The three holes I marked matched the hole locations in your last drawing.






Mark Bourgeois

Re:History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2006, 07:53:12 AM »
Craig,

I must say I looked at those photos for hours without actually "seeing" anything as you have done -- fascinating observation!

The book credits them as "wartime photos" and while they don't carry a date, another photo in the book lists 1945.

Everybody says the course was obliterated by the runways -- I for one marvelled at the dunes seemingly created from runway-flat ground -- but the photographs and line drawing indicate that didn't happen at all.

Credit goes to Donald Steel for this research.

In the club history, Steel writes, "Runways destroyed the heart of the Arran whereas the coastal fringe of the Ailsa was saved."

He concluded that the Arran, and later the Kintyre, took this land that had been flattened, and not the Ailsa.

So, the huge expense that went into restoring the Turnberry courses, usually assumed to mean bringing Ailsa back to three-dimensional life after a good flattening, may well have gone to Arran, regarded, interestingly enough, as a flat course suitable for the elderly.

(Some of the money for Ailsa actually went to undoing design elements of the prewar course: about 150 fairway bunkers were removed!)

What I would draw from your analysis, then, is that creating a post-WWII, Caledonian "Shadow Creek" would have been genuinely prohitibitive. Even given the money and effort spent, Ross was highly constrained to work with the routing he had, even as he transformed many if not all the antebellum holes.

So, Ross had little choice but to work within Hutchinson's existing footprint. He might have done the best routing he could under the circumstances.

Mark

Tiger_Bernhardt

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Re:History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2006, 08:49:48 AM »
Mark, thank you for that work as well. I am confussed as to the notion the Ailsa as obliterated. I had always read the Arran was taken out for the war affort and most of the Ailsa was left alone. I have not discovered to what degree it was used of play if at all during the war.

Mark Bourgeois

Re:History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2006, 08:55:53 AM »
Mark, thank you for that work as well. I am confussed as to the notion the Ailsa as obliterated. I had always read the Arran was taken out for the war affort and most of the Ailsa was left alone. I have not discovered to what degree it was used of play if at all during the war.

Then your reading was correct as far as the routing; however, the postwar Ailsa was dramatically different insofar as the character of the holes (greens, bunkering, etc.) were changed.

I don't know whether it was played during the war. You'd think it would provide some sort of relief from flying / training...

Mark

Tom MacWood

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Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2009, 06:07:43 AM »
An excellent old thread.

Melvyn Morrow

Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2009, 07:24:23 AM »

Mark

To complete the history back to the start. The formation of a new golfing club 30th August 1892



Melvyn

Tom MacWood

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Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2009, 07:32:01 AM »
Melvyn
Is the Ailsa the older course or is it the other course?

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2009, 08:20:11 AM »
Gents,

I asked a question a while ago about the history of the Ailsa course.... I came across information (I will try and find it later) stating that the Ailsa course had been obliterated during the FIRST world war and that soon after it was redesigned by a representative of Carters seed merchants, I think in 1926... I was trying to find out more about this representative.... i.e. his name?

When then coming upon this thread at the time, I felt it missed out that step in the design history... Can anyone shed more light on the possibility of this and if true, what that design may have looked like...

Thanks,
Ally

Melvyn Morrow

Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2009, 08:45:05 AM »

Tom

An interesting question and one, which I put to the club some months ago. Alas not received a reply so have put it on the back burner.

You do raise a very interesting point, because though out the last year or so I have found the formation of clubs and the formal opening of courses to differ from the clubs official records.

Some club records show that their formation or the opening of their course to be anything from a few months to many, many years later that the local or national papers of the time. On checking through, I note the same dignitaries at the forming and opening the clubs as reported in newspapers of the day.

Hence one of the reason I have started to forward any find I make directly to the club concerned for their information or comment. The general feedback is around about 70% and of the 70% more that half have had clubhouse fires or lost their original records. Some did not know who designed their course or for that matter who extended it. I have been fortunate to be able to help many re-establish their connection to their past. A great feeling and well worth the effort.

Some of my best moments have been when I have passed on some of the early sketch designs of their original courses. Many have been shocked to see that certain holes still exist, others surprised to see the original routing, which is no longer in play. The thrill of adding to their knowledge and understanding of their course history is most rewarding. The additional bonus for me is to advise them that Old Tom was involved in either the design or re-design of their course.

 Melvyn


Tom MacWood

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Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2009, 09:05:14 AM »
Since most of the routing is a carry over from Cecil Hutchison's scheme, shouldn't he be given some design credit?

Melvyn Morrow

Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2009, 10:30:44 AM »

Tom

Yes, I would have thought so, but that would be on the basis that he did the design work and not just produced the drawing from someone else design.

The problem is that a sketch drawing with someoneís name on does not prove that they did the design but only that they may have been responsible for that sketch.

Melvyn 

Mark Bourgeois

Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2009, 11:31:14 AM »
Tom

Thanks for pulling up this thread.

I put that same question to Donald Steel, who did the research, and his answer was a firm no.  I too was struck by the similarities, but Steel's argument as I recall it was that Hutchinson's course was more like a palimsest, a design that was "overwritten" by Ross.

Not sure I buy the argument, but line drawings probably aren't the best fact base.  The condition of the pre-war course after the war and the number and nature of differences pre / post war can't be fully understood.

Melvyn, nice find.  Did you know the club's history makes a claim for golf being played on the west coast as early as and possibly before the East?

Mark

Melvyn Morrow

Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2009, 12:54:04 PM »

Mark

Interesting claim, but I am not totally convinced. The problem is Scottish history, rather than bore you, the Stuart kings finally broke the power of the Lord of the Isles (i.e. his ships). Up until then was a rather prosperous area thanks to the boats Ė as all goods went by boat than roads as very few and far between.  Without the boats, numbers diminished, life slowed down and Central East Scotland became the driving force.

I would not say that golf was not played on the West Coast but feel it is subject to exact dates. I am in contact with Robin (Sec of Musselburgh Old GC) and will drop him a note as they have been recognised as the oldest Club in Scotland. See if he can offer any comments.

Melvyn


Rich Goodale

Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2009, 01:17:57 PM »
Tom

Thanks for pulling up this thread.

I put that same question to Donald Steel, who did the research, and his answer was a firm no.  I too was struck by the similarities, but Steel's argument as I recall it was that Hutchinson's course was more like a palimsest, a design that was "overwritten" by Ross.

Not sure I buy the argument, but line drawings probably aren't the best fact base.  The condition of the pre-war course after the war and the number and nature of differences pre / post war can't be fully understood.

Melvyn, nice find.  Did you know the club's history makes a claim for golf being played on the west coast as early as and possibly before the East?

Mark

Mark

It was I who called Hutchinson's course a "palimpsest," in my essay on Turnberry in the new World Atlas of Golf (Hamlyn, 2008).  I also gave Hutchinson design credit in that essay as it was clear that his routing and Ross's were very similar.  Contrary to popular belief, very little of the Major's work was destoyed in WWII.

Rich

Tom MacWood

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Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2009, 09:59:13 PM »
I would respectfully disagree with Steel too. I was shocked to learn how much Ross used the previous course too after reading the stories about the old course being completely leveled. I believe Ross even referred to as a restoration or reconstruction.

Mike_Cirba

Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2009, 11:09:41 PM »
This is an awesome thread and it's stuff like this that makes me still love GolfClubAtlas, internecine warfare and all.

It's also great to see that much like the Cobb's Creek thread of two years ago, everyone here is collaborating cooperatively while providing historical information for our mutual edification and enjoyment.

Good show!

Tom MacWood

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Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2009, 11:29:33 PM »
Mike
Cooperation is the general rule unless the course is in greater Philadelphia, in which case we hide the women and children.

Mike_Cirba

Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2009, 11:38:19 PM »
Mike
Cooperation is the general rule unless the course is in greater Philadelphia, in which case we hide the women and children.

Tom,

Let's not go there.

You'll notice a fundamental difference in the very first post here where Mark states he worked directly with the club involved to compile his information and then received their permission to share what he'd learned.

Let's keep this to Turnberry because I think we can learn a lot and have an enjoyable time.     Remember when we used to do that here?
« Last Edit: July 18, 2009, 11:40:03 PM by MCirba »

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2009, 04:27:07 AM »
Interesting I wish I could add more.

From An Errant Golfer by EP Leigh-Bennett circa 1928.

"This magnificent holiday course is critcised adversely by some golfers on account of it's blind holes, of which on the Old Course there are no less than eight.
(After playing the 9th) 'they call this the Lighthouse Hole,' do they? " 

Let's make GCA grate again!

Brian Phillips

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Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2009, 04:48:24 AM »
Here is a photo of the suggested routing from Mackenzie Ross and Carter Seeds dated 1949. This is located in the clubhouse upstairs.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2009, 04:50:56 AM by Brian Phillips »
Bunkers, if they be good bunkers, and bunkers of strong character, refuse to be disregarded, and insist on asserting themselves; they do not mind being avoided, but they decline to be ignored - John Low Concerning Golf

Brian_Ewen

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Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2009, 04:56:11 AM »
Since most of the routing is a carry over from Cecil Hutchison's scheme, shouldn't he be given some design credit?

Its strange that Turnberry would credit Braid instead ?

Tom MacWood

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Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2009, 09:10:16 AM »
I'm not sure where the Braid connection comes from. CK Hutchison did work with Braid at Gleneagles twenty years earlier, but I don't believe they were together here in 1938.

I found an article written by Tom Simpson (circa 1950) on the reconstruction and he gives the impression the damage was greater than those pictures may indicate. You really don't see any buildings in those aerials, TS said there were numerous hangars and outbuilding strewn over the course. He also said the natural undulation were not nearly as pronounced. It seems the present contours, ridges, straths, hillocks, etc are mostly man-made. "Sutton & Sons, the contractor, have been at work undulating the ground, fashioning new ridges and straths with their rotary scoops, in such a way to ensure the ground shall dictate play, as it does at all the famous holes at St. Andrews and elsewhere. Over 30 acres of fairway areas have been undulated in this fashion, and in addition, very bold hill work has made in the adjoining rough."

Here is interesting quote from Simpson: "Let it be said at once that this New Turnberry is an infinitely better course than its predecessor, and judged by any standard, must take its place among the great seaside courses of the British Isles, both as a holiday course from the ordinary tees, and for the purpose of a championship from the back tees. Moreover, it is an eminently sane one, and as such will commend itself to golfers. Whether on that particular ground it commends itself altogether to me, I am not very sure, as I have a liking for "Mad Masterpieces."

All that being said I still think Hutchison deserves some credit. Also I'm not altogether certain Simpson was comparing the new course to  Hutchison's course or the course prior to Hutchison. Hutchison's course was only in play for a very short period.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2009, 09:17:47 AM by Tom MacWood »

BCrosby

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Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2009, 09:21:10 AM »
"Whether on that particular ground it commends itself altogether to me, I am not very sure, as I have a liking for "Mad Masterpieces.""

You gotta love Tom Simpson.

BCrosby

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Re: History and Evolution of Routing, Turnberry (Ailsa)
« Reply #24 on: July 19, 2009, 09:31:26 AM »
Looking at Brian's 1949 map, I suspect the damage was much greater than shown. Note that the taxiways and aircraft tie down areas are all on the seaside of the the airfield. That means that hangars, control towers, barracks, etc. would also have been on that side of the runway. Which would have put those buildings in the middle of the golf course.

I'd guess that the WWII damage was substantial.

Bob  

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