Played by NCG: MontroseSeptember 3, 2018 Courses and Travel
Where better to play on the final morning of the Open Championship than one of the oldest links courses in the world? Mark Townsend paid a visit
Reason for a Montrose Golf Club review
It was the Sunday of the Open Championship and we were staying in Aberdeen so Montrose was en route to the Carnoustie. I had also played here during the 2007 Open and loved it so was keen to get back and my two colleagues had never been.
I have also fascinated myself at the ripples on the 2nd fairway for the past 11 years so that was another reason to return.
Where is Montrose Golf Club?
Twenty miles north of Carnoustie, 40 miles south of Aberdeen and, as you’ll have noticed, slap bang on the coast of the North Sea.
What to expect
A links with a bit of everything; holes that hug the coast, sporty par 4s and 5s, a stretch where you have to negotiate your way through the gorse, humps and hollows galore, a chance to putt from everywhere, some potentially ruinous gusts from the occasional elevated tee, outstanding greens and, when we played here, a baked and brown layout that grabbed your senses even at 7am on a Sunday.
Favourite hole at Montrose Golf Club
The 2nd will likely be the most photographed hole (see main pic) but the hole that I have enjoyed the most on both occasions is the 17th. The previous hole, a very lengthy par 3 of 235 yards, is pretty special but the penultimate hole would get my nod.
It’s a par 4 that hugs the gorse and, whatever shape you have in your locker, you have to hit a couple of proper shots. The likelihood is that you might bail out with your approach (yes I did) and leave yourself with a putt up a huge bank.
It looks and plays great – you should make a bogey but a par is properly earned.
My best bit
This came at the 365-yard 4th hole, Butts, where I achieved a once-a-year shot. I didn’t hole anything silly, I didn’t even hit the green. It came off the tee where, with the wind starting to howl off the left and down the fairway, I aimed 25 yards further left than I normally would and hit just the right shaped shot to get it running and running and running to within 40 yards of the green.
It wasn’t done by brute force, as I have none, but came about via a rare bit of savvy.
I then needed an eight-footer to save par.
What to look for
Given the sign that you’ll see on your arrival you won’t be able to miss the history of the place and rightly so.
If you think your club has a nice bit of history to it then have a look at these figures below – 1562. At one stage back in the day it could boast having the greatest number of holes of any course, at the time Musselburgh had five while Montrose had 25.
In one event over these holes Willie Park (115), winner of the first Open, finished second ahead of the reigning Open champion Andrew Strath (his brother Davie has the bunker named after him at St Andrews) and Jamie Anderson who would go on to win the Open three times in succession.
The winner was a T Doleman who won £10 for his 112 strokes.
One famous son of the club was Chay Burgess who left Montrose to become a pro in the States where he became the coach and mentor to Francis Ouimet – he also became the first ever ‘soccer’ coach at Harvard University.
When I go back
I’ll make a day of it, play the shorter Broomfield Course, stay for a pint, learn a bit more about the club’s extraordinarily lengthy history and try and get my head round the terrors of a lot of gorse.