Reason for a Carnoustie (Championship) Golf Club review

We were guests of the Carnoustie Links Trust, on a two-day excursion playing Panmure and the championship course at Carnoustie for the Media Cup 2016. Carnoustie is hosting the Open once again in 2018 and the Senior Open this July.

Where is Carnoustie?

A small town on the Angus coast in Scotland, Carnoustie is found between Dundee and Arbroath.

You can’t really miss the three courses – the Championship, Burnside and the newer Buddon Links – because the town is pretty much built around them. The huge Carnoustie Golf Hotel offers four star accommodation with views of the first tee.



What to expect?

It’s known as one of the toughest courses in Major golf for a reason. After a relatively routine start, it’s a track that demands absolute concentration.

Whether it’s avoiding out of bounds on the 6th – Hogan’s Alley – or trying to hold the small elevated green on the par-3 8th, every shot requires a focused mind.

And then you come to the final five holes.

They are absolutely brutal. I stood on the tee at the 14th and fell hook, line and sinker for the optical illusion – I just couldn’t see anywhere to drive the ball.

Playing all but 17 into the wind, I was faced with hybrids or woods with almost every second shot and, off a 12 handicap, it’s a tough ask to expect to find greens in regulation in those conditions.

The par-3 16th – playing all of 251-yards – was right into the teeth and I could only find the hollow with a driver. Welcome to proper golf.

But, despite its difficulty, Carnoustie is an unbelievable experience.

The feeling of hitting over the Barry burn – where Jean van de Velde’s Open dreams all but ended in 1999 – was magnificent. I felt like I was walking in history.

My best bits?

My highlights came early. After striping a drive down the first – which was an amazing feeling – I flicked a little 8-iron into the green and came off with a par. My first hole on an Open rota course and three points! After being told at all costs to stay out of Braid’s bunker on the 2nd, I put my drive straight in there. But I hit one of the bunker shots of my life out of the deep trap and managed to escape with a 5.


Ten holes in, I was studious but scoring well. Then I came to those final few holes and ended up, like so many, a victim of Carnoustie.

When I go back

I’ll be a little less aggressive on the back nine. I could have made a much bigger score by playing many of the tough back five holes with an extra shot – accepting a safe bogey – rather than trying to laser a long hybrid into the green. What a learning curve.

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Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

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