I played the 9 Hole Arran Course on 28 November 2012 immediately after my round on the Ailsa Course. The Arran is short at only 1996 Yards, Par 31 and was specifically designed as an extension to the Golf Academy at Turnberry to support coaching on all aspects of links golf and course management. As such, its a great practice facility and is a real links course in miniature, with the same challenges e.g. undulating greens, tight tee shots, pot bunkers and thick, Scottish rough that you'll find on the Ailsa and Kintyre courses.
It might be short, but don't be fooled into thinking that the Arran is easy. I'd only parred the 281 Yard Par 4 1st after a good pitch and run and single putt from around 6 feet. This is the 2nd, an innocent looking 91 Yard Par 3. An easy wedge/sand iron you'd probably agree, but I'd teed the ball up a wee bit too high, got under it and needed a great recovery bunker shot to leave myself a tap in for par. I'd obviously had enough bunker practice earlier in the day on the Ailsa!
The 3rd is a 177 Yard Par 3 and also looks easy enough. I under-clubbed from the tee, leading to a bogey. This is a view up the 4th, a 316 yard Par 4, with my drive only just missing the first of 3 bunkers. I doubt this poor drive went much more than 180 yards. It might have been wiser to have lunch after my Ailsa round, but with sunset a little over an hour away and a 12 hole pitch and putt course still to play, I was trying to play the Arran as quickly as possible. The conventional way of playing the 4th is to favour the left side of the fairway to avoid these 3 bunkers and leave yourself a short pitch to the green. Having duffed my drive I tried an 8 iron (another duff). I'm usually fairly handy with pitch and run shots (I get tons of practice!) but it was still pretty satisfying to birdie the hole from just off the green.
The 5th is a really good 415 Yard Par 4. The key is to avoid the very right side of the fairway off the tee. I know, since that's where I went, leaving myself an awkward 2nd shot, blind over gorse bushes. The green is also one of the most undulating on the course and a bogey was a fair result after another loose drive. I was getting really tired! The 6th is an easy looking 184 Yard Par 3. A good drive with my 23 Degree Rescue set up an easy par. The 7th is a 138 Yard Par 3, on the other side of an old Second World War airfield runway (and a poignant reminder of the important role that Turnberry played in both World Wars). A good par there after just missing the green with a lazily swung 7 iron tee shot. The 8th is a tight looking 268 Yard Par 4 with strong fairway bunkering ready to trap anything even slightly wayward. I had an easy pitch and run to the green and a comfortable par, but this is a real birdie opportunity for bigger hitters than me.
This is a view of the 9th green, looking back to the tee and to the lighthouse and the mountains on Arran in the far distance. The 126 Yard 9th is really just a flick with something like 9 iron/wedge. I thinned my 9 iron a good 25 yards through the back of the green into heavy rough and was lucky to escape with a bogey. Not how I'd planned it, but I was happy enough with my 33 total, net 27.5, with 13 putts. The Arran is an ideal practice course for links golf and well worth playing in its own right, either before or after your round on either of the Ailsa or Kintyre Courses. It's a fair distance between the Arran and the pitch and putt course, so lunch would have to wait....again!