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Case Studies

Trump Turnberry – Ailsa Course

Category: golf


As part of the redevelopment of the world renowned Ailsa Course at Trump Turnberry in 2015/16, STRI was commissioned to provide agronomic input into the project team headed up by Golf Course Architect Martin Ebert of Mackenzie & Ebert Ltd, SOL Golf and Allan Patterson, Golf & Estate Manager Trump Turnberry.


Turnberry - Ailsa course


The challenges:

  • Provide a rootzone and soil profile design to optimise consistency, drainage and surface firmness for green reconstruction.
  • Source and utilise materials harvested from the site to ensure the project is optimally sustainable.
  • Provide a grassing plan that will cope with the rigours of play and provide optimum performance for opening in the summer following construction.
  • Ensure consistency of materials.
  • Improve the ecological quality and value of the course.


The solutions:

  • Initial preparations: Detailed site investigations were carried out in the planning stage to source materials of suitable performance and consistent quality from the site. This approach ensured that no materials required importation therefore minimising costs and optimising sustainability. A grassing plan was formulated to optimise short and long-term durability, sward quality and performance under the tight timeline of the project. Existing greens turf was reused and material for surrounds and approaches were harvested from fairways elsewhere on the site. Rough vegetation was selected for translocation to provide mature and diverse vegetation to out of play areas.
  • Laboratory analysis: Once appropriate ingredient materials were sourced from the site, a range of detailed laboratory investigations were carried out. Various rootzone mixes and designs were formulated and tested under laboratory conditions to determine the best mix in terms of hydraulic conductivity, moisture retention and a crucially as a growing medium to support healthy and sustainable grass growth.
  • Soil profile design: Following the laboratory analysis, a design blueprint for the greens soil profile was formulated and this was closely followed for the reconstruction of the greens and construction of the nine new greens as part of the redesign process.
  • Stockpile monitoring: Once the project commenced, regular samples of the rootzone stockpile were taken for laboratory analysis to determine consistency of the mix against the initial design blueprint. This meant that the greens and practice greens were consistently constructed and therefore performance was optimised.
  • Sward establishment: To ensure the constructed surfaces were ready for opening in late June/early July an accurate programme of maintenance was required to provide rapid establishment and performance for opening. STRI assisted in tailoring nutrient, top dressing and general maintenance operations on a green specific basis to ready the course for opening.
  • Ongoing monitoring: Following completion of the project, regular STRI Programme visits are made on behalf of The R&A to monitor turf and playing performance and make any adjustments to maintenance operations to ensure performance targets are continually met.



The Results

The course was ready for opening earlier than anticipated.

The changes have been widely lauded across the golfing world with specific comment on the superb quality and performance of the turf surfaces.

Improved performance in terms of firmness, drainage and ball roll quality in comparison to the original greens.

Improved biodiversity across the site in response to the creation of new and additional habitats across the course during construction.