It doesn’t get any better than this, a course that will test every shot in your repertoire and will leave you awestruck at the ability of the best players in the world. The course oozes history and has seen victories from huge names in the sport like Tom Watson and Ben Hogan. At the same time it has also seen the unravelling of the likes of Tiger Woods and the famous capitulation by Jean van de Velde.
Those playing the Championship course at Carnoustie are in for a memorable round of golf. The course has a reputation of being one of the toughest in the world and whilst this is certainly true from the championship markers, from the yellow tees of the day the course is a manageable at a par of 70 (holes 12 and 14 are par-4's off the yellows rather than 5's off the whites). You'll be left enjoying landmarks such as Hogan's Alley on the superb par-5 6th hole, Nicklaus' bunker on the par-4 9th and Miller's bunker on the right of the 18th fairway where he took 2 to escape which enabled Tom Watson to claim the Open in 1975.
Carnoustie Championship course is ranked as one of the best courses in Scotland
||72 (71 for the Open)
||Allan Robertson, Old Tom Morris, James Braid
|Opened for play
||7 Open Championships
Signature hole: par 5, 14th hole
The closing 5 holes are without doubt some of the finest in golf. The 14th, a par-5 measuring just shy of 500 yards, Spectacles requires an accurate drive up the right hand side of the fairway avoiding bunkers lining the left, while a blind approach over the famed Spectacles bunkers will hopefully leave you with eagle or birdie attempt. The 15th is a display of golf course design at its finest. With bunkers lining the raised fairway on the right, combined with a drop off on the left hand side it is imperative that you find the fairway off the tee.
If you keep it too close to the left hand side of the fairway you'll be met with a tricky approach with the ball below your feet which will encourage your shot into the bunker located short and right of the green. The par-3 16th looks an easy prospect from the tee, it is however protected by both length and undulations which will catch any shot pitching short of the putting surface meaning anyone scoring a par on this hole is sure to pick up a shot on their playing partners.
It is not just the tee shot which is key to playing the 17th, with the Barry Burn meandering along and through the fairway finding the short grass is a very difficult prospect, keeping it left off the tee will give an easy route to the green but brings more of the Burn into play and will leave you with a longer approach. Take aim at the Clock on the hotel on 18 and just hope that you've given yourself a chance to pitch it onto the green in 2 for any shot falling short will find itself in the Barry Burn, and after all no one likes to end their golf holiday like Jean Van de Velde do they!
The Championship is one of the most feared tournament courses in the world; 1999 Open winner Paul Lawrie emerged victorious from what was effectively a war of attrition, after Jean Van de Velde's hopes drowned in the Barry Burn. For many Lawrie's win will be Carnoustie's most famous due to his sensational closing round of 67 and Van de Velde's triple bogey 7 on the 18th hole to force a 3-way playoff between Lawrie, Van de Velde and Justin Leonard. Lawrie's closing birdies on 17 and 18 to win the playoff and claim the trophy should've been the lasting memories of the 1999 Open but the sight of Van de Velde in the Barry Burn with his shoes and socks off are the enduring images here.
The course was lengthened for the 2007 tournament to add to the already abundant history, which includes Ben Hogan's famous performance in 1953. 2007 was a slightly less dramatic affair with Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia being left tied on 277 after 72 holes. Both had chances to win in regulation play with Harrington finding the Barry Burn twice on 18 before scrambling to save a double-bogey 6 while Garcia was left ruing a missed par putt on 18 which would've seen him claim his maiden Major. The 4 hole playoff on holes 1, 16, 17 and 18 was won by Harrington following 1 birdie, 2 pars and 1 bogey, Garcia's 1 bogey and 3 pars left him one-shot shy and Harrington claimed the Claret Jug which he would successfully defend at Royal Birkdale the following year.
The Open history at Carnoustie
Carnoustie has held The Open eight times and was the penultimate Scottish course added to The Open rota, the last being Turnberry.
The Burnside Course is the second of the 3 courses at Carnoustie Golf Links and is often overshadowed by the world renowned Championship Course. Despite this the course still carries a great deal of history and many of the game's greatest players have graced the stunning fairways. One of the most famous moments to occur on the Burnside Course was in 1953 where Ben Hogan famous shot 70 in order to qualify the Open that year, which he went on to win. All of the holes are full of character with the 5th and the 14th being amongst some of the best in the world as their dramatic nature demands the best out even the lowest handicappers in order to make par.
The 14th hole is one of the toughest and best par threes you will ever play. At just under 230 yards from the back tees, this hole requires a wood for most and even a driver depending on the wind. A well struck tee shot and two putts will give you a well-earned par, however a tee shot missing left will set you on a golfing adventure!
|Opened for play
Signature hole: par 3, 5th hole
The third course at Carnoustie Links is the Buddon Course which is the newest of the three having been originally designed in 1979 by Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas.
Built on former Ministry of Defence land, many of the holes on this course are named after famous battles, the closing stretch make for a strong finish and leave a lasting impression. The par three 17th is a classic short links hole providing wonderful views of the property, savour this one before you move on to the final hole.
The course has recently completed a $1 million refurbishment which has revitalised the course and has truly made it one of Scotland's less well known gems. As a result of the redesign the course has become a much tougher prospect creating a challenge for golfer's of all abilities with the three different tee boxes making all the holes accessible regardless of handicap.
Part of the recent investment has been the development of a new and world-class clubhouse. Links House is the airy and modern heart of the Carnoustie Golf Links complex and whether you’re playing or not, it is a great place to be. The pro shop is kitted-out with anything you might need for your upcoming round or for some mementos of your trip to the world-famous course.
One of the best new additions is the Carnoustie Golf Performance Centre, one thing that was lacking is good range facilities near the clubhouse so the performance centre was developed to get around this. With seven state of the art simulator bays, you can warm-up here before you step on to the first tee or even get some practice in the night before your round.
If you are playing the course for the first time then you may want to consider hiring one of the caddies on offer. The local knowledge they can provide you with will really help you navigate the course on your first outing. This can be arranged in Links House too.
Whilst this may be a feared course, it is fair so don’t be put off by tales of how difficult it is. Carnoustie Golf Links is one of the best golf offerings in the world and should be at the very top of every golfers list.