The King Robert the Bruce Course at Turnberry Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook
The King Robert the Bruce is the second course on offer at Turnberry, which in its own right is a true links test that is defined by the same quality and iconic scenery that is showcased through both layouts at this historic venue.
The course, formally known as the Kintyre, underwent significant updates in 2017 by Martin Ebert, providing a fitting companion to the illustrious Ailsa.
With views of Ailsa Craig, the Isle of Arran, and of course, the iconic lighthouse that is set on the site of the ruins of Turnberry Castle, the likely birthplace of Robert the Bruce, this is a stunning links course which offers members and visitors quality that is reminiscent of the Ailsa, just without the rich Open Championship history.
Coming with similar coastal exposure as the Ailsa, the King Robert the Bruce should not be overlooked and is well worth the trip to play or to experience as part of an overnight stay and play package.
As with the Ailsa, you will receive a warm and friendly welcome from the starter before heading into the luxurious clubhouse where historic photos, posters, magazine covers, and other artefacts are littered around the walls.
Both courses share the excellent practice facilities, these include the range, chipping green with bunker, and putting green which is sculptured around some wispy rough so you can get a feel for the challenge that lies ahead.
Front 9 Overview
The opening hole is a fairly mellow par 5 in length, but as a theme throughout the course, the fairway bunkers are precisely positioned in areas that make it hard to avoid leaving you thinking over every shot. The gorse bushes behind the green mean going long isn't the best option either.
The 3rd and 4th, both par 4s, are also fairly short in length and could be played as a long iron off the tee for position, with the greens again well protected by the bunkers. The bunkers throughout the course add another element to the challenge that will really exercise the strategic part of your game.
The 5th is the polar opposite, at over 400 yards is a tight driving hole where the fairway moves gently from left to right, a long second shot will be left in order to find a sloping putting surface where a two-putt is not a formality depending on the pin position.
The stretch of holes from the 8th through to 11th provide some of the views more often noted from the Ailsa, with vistas across the sea, coastline, and lighthouse.
The 8th is a stunning par 5 that falls away from a raised tee. As the hole plays down from tee to green towards the sea, the green is raised up with run-off areas and deadly bunkers either side meaning a pop at the green in two shots does not come without its risks.
The front finishes strongly. The green on the par 4 9th hole is perched high above Kintyre’s Cove. You will need to favour the left-hand side of the fairway if you are to have shot at carrying the cove on your approach, the alternative being to play up the fairway further as the green sits 90 degrees to the left. A superbly designed par 4 that epitomises the term 'risk and reward'. Once on the green you will take in the dazzling views across to the Mull of Kintyre.
Back 9 Overview
The 11th is another fantastic par 5. A sizable drop from tee to green means that you can gain some distance from the tee. This may also give you the chance to have a go in two at the bunker-less green, but it is defended by some serious run-off areas. Another hole where the views out to sea are to be taken in.
Another tricky par 4 comes at the 15th, over 400 yards from all tees, a tight driving hole and a well struck second shot still might not be enough to reach, but then some respite comes at 16th, the shortest of par 3s. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that it's easy. Featuring an extremely sloping green with run-off areas towards the pot bunkers, you'll really need to be precise from the tee to find the surface.
The 17th is a big dog-leg where longer hitters might look to cut the corner, but you would need to go over two hidden pot bunkers.
Finally, the 18th provides stunning views down the fairway with the academy and range situated to the left, while the clubhouse and hotel can be seen in the distance. Avoiding the bunkers on either side of your second shot leaves you a nice wedge into the final hole, knowing that there will be a number of onlookers sitting up in the Duel in the Sun Bar watching you finish your round.
The King Robert the Bruce is a super enjoyable course. During our visit it was in pristine condition and, like the Ailsa, will be playable all year round, but difficulty levels will increase with the ever-changing weather conditions.
It poses a test in its own right and can be stretched out to 7,200 yards (starting from 5,767) meaning championship length is there should it be required. It also means players of all abilities can be tested but still have fun. Where the Alisa is lined with thick wispy rough, there is more gorse on this layout providing a slightly different defence but one that does its job at framing holes and fairways.
The views on offer are simply stunning and as mentioned earlier, whilst it doesn't have the history that the Ailsa boasts, it is just as challenging, just as stunning and just as dreamy as its neighbour. It's not the Ailsa Course but it does offer everything you could hope for.
The King Robert the Bruce really does complement the Ailsa. You may be forgiven for thinking that it plays second fiddle to the Ailsa Course, but it holds its own and should be held in the same high regard. If I was returning to Turnberry, I would be looking forward to another crack at this course just as much as I would the Ailsa. A great addition to a superb venue.
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