How times have not changed...they're revving up the dozers again.
In the Second World War the government commandeered the golf course just as they had in the First. They made a military air station of it, put 1,200 men on site and told those who wanted to know that golf had probably had its day at Turnberry. The links had survived one conflict. It was unlikely to survive a second.The bulldozers moved in. Greens were ploughed up and several thousand tonnes of concrete and tarmac were poured on to fairways to make runways.
It's a challenge that is going to get stiffer by the time 2009 comes around. It would have been appropriate for Turnberry to host the Open in this their 100th year but change was needed there. Foul weather defended the course against the bombers of today but you'd fear for it if the modern pros cut loose in dry conditions. The fear is they'd tear it to pieces. The game has changed a lot since Nick Price won there in 1994. Apart from the infrastructure around the course, they needed to toughen-up the Ailsa.
The changes are pretty radical, even if the R&A has asked for some of them to be undone. They were concerned the new and extensive bunkering on some holes was too penal and would force players to go defensive off the tee. Some have been filled in completely, others have been made less deep. Still, there will be approaching 30 new traps when the Open returns there and about 200 extra yards to negotiate.
The most dramatic alteration is the shifting of the 10th tee 50 yards to the left. Dinna Fouter now requires a 220-yard carry over the sea to find the fairway. Anything remotely hooky will end up wet. It's a hole to challenge the signature ninth, with all the stunning views of the lighthouse and the Ailsa Craig. It is a vision that brings to mind Henry Longhurst's plaintive words in troubled times.
"In those long periods inseparable from wartime service when there is nothing to do but sit and think," he wrote, "I often used to find myself sitting and thinking of the time when once again we might be playing golf at Turnberry."