There is no question that the Open Championship is one of the most important on the golfing calendar and that the select few courses that are on the Open Championship Rota hold a special place on the history of the sport. Courses like the St Andrews Old Course, Royal St Georges and this year’s host, Royal Lytham & St Annes are without doubt among the finest in the world and deserving hosts of one of golf’s four major championships but there are a number of courses in the UK that are every bit as good. Although the Open venues are pretty well entrenched, here are our thoughts on where the Open should head if it were to broaden it horizons.
A number of holes at Castle Stuart run along the water’s edge and can be intimidating to even the most talented players.
Finding the right level on the greens at Castle Stuart is key. Any putts and chips from below or above the flags can be treacherous!
Hillside is located in the Southport area and so is just a stone’s throw from current Open Championship hosts including the likes of Royal Birkdale, Royal Liverpool and this year’s host, Royal Lytham & St Anne’s.
Like many classic links courses Hillside features imposing dunes and the odd devilish pot bunker.
But unlike other links layouts Hillside also features pockets of mature pine trees which really make this course stand out as a unique test.
The web of dunes that plays host to Portstewart is called ‘Thirsty Hollow’, and is a truly spectacular place to enjoy a foray into Irish golf.
Carved among the colossal sand dunes, Portstewart offers superb views across the Atlantic mouth of Lough Foyle and the Inishowen peninsula.
Under the watchful gaze of Harlech’s famous castle, Royal St. David‘s is wedged between the towering hills and the Irish Sea and is one of the finest examples of links golf in the UK.
Boasting views of not only the nearby hills and moutnains but the sea as well, Royal St David’s boasts an endless array of breathtaking vistas.
The dunes are all that protects the course at Royal St David’s from the wind that rolls in from the Irish Sea.
Although Kingsbarns looks like a course that very much follows the natural lay of the land, Kyle Philips and his team had to move considerable amounts of earth to create the mind boggling undulations that define this stunning course.
The par 3 15th at Kingsbarns is one of the finest short holes in the UK and when the wind gets up and the waves are crashing at your feet there are few holes that rival it for sheer drama.
It has been asserted by many that if the Royal & Ancient was to add to the Open Championship rotation, Saunton would feature high on a list of potential venues.
The rugged sand dunes of Braunton Burrows are the setting for this fine golfing destination, a site that has been designated as being of international importance by UNESCO.
Royal County Down is a perennial fixture on lists of the best golf courses in the world. In fact many view it as the second best course on the planet behind Pine Valley in the USA.
With gorse, pot bunkers and tall fesue rough all over the course at Royal County Down, strategy is a must. Simply gripping it and ripping it won’t cut the mustard…this is a real thinking man’s golf course.
The towering dunes at Royal County Down mean a number of approach shots will be played from blind spots…this is where a course planner comes in handy!
Set against the backdrop of the spellbinding Mountains of Mourne, the links land at Royal County Down seems heaven sent for golf.
Similarly to Old Head at Kinsale, Nefyn offers amazing sea views on three sides from the promontory, and keeping your eyes on the course in front of you can often be the biggest challenge!
Holes 12 through 14 take you out and back along this dramatically narrow promontory. Only the toughest golfers will make it through this stretch of holes with the same golf ball!
A twilight round at Nefyn & District can be something to savour in the summer months.
Machrihanish Dunes is one of the most exciting golf courses to have been completed in recent years and may well be a strong candidate for hosting the Open in years to come.
Measuring 7,300 yards, Machrihanish Dunes will feature six greens and five tees on the water’s edge, making this one of the most spectacular new golfing experiences in the world and certainly a course that could test even the world’s best.
On a parcel of land first recognised for its golfing potential by Old Tom Morris more than 130 years ago, his vision has been realised by David McLay Kidd, the precocious course architect made famous by his creations at Bandon Dunes, Oregon and the St Andrews Castle Course.
Although Royal Porthcawl doesn’t feature the dunes that traverse other classic links courses, there are still ample undulations that will not only test the players short game but there club selection as well.