We asked 12 leading European Tour players to name the aspects that make a course fun for them – our survey produced some fascinating answers.

“It’s right there in front of you.” “It’s not tricked up.” “I have good memories there.” That’s often about as insightful as it gets when you ask tour pros to assess courses they like. Undeterred, we asked 20 leading European Tour names for their best fun courses, players for whom 99 per cent of courses are simply so easy that they verge on tedious pitch and putts.

Guess what? We struck gold more often than we hit a brick wall. Here are the 12 best verdicts…

“A routing that makes it play different every day, if there is a slight wind change. Unlike some courses, which play the same every single day. Having memorable holes is also key – it is never great when you’ve come off and someone asks what you think of the 13th and you have to think for five minutes about what hole it was.”

– Henrik Stenson

“Risk-reward; holes you can make birdies and bogeys on. Good condition; I don’t like big slopes on greens Short-game interest: I like interesting chip and bunker shots around the greens. Quick to play; short walks between holes, 1st tee near the clubhouse, 18th green near the clubhouse. Views help; but that doesn’t mean it has to be a links. There are courses that have bits of all of that but not sure if anywhere has it all. When I design one it will…this course that I’ve just described, it is in my head.”

– Padraig Harrington

“The condition. And holes that you remember. Small, flat greens but not lots of bumps in them. One driveable par 4. Par 5s that are reachable. Adare Manor is fun.”

– Shane Lowry

“Different variables so you can easily distinguish each hole. Long par 4s, short par 4s, par 5s where you can gamble. I like small greens, they make it interesting.”

– Viktor Hovland

“Variation, a nice mix of holes. Not too many holes that are the same. Different types of par 3s, holes that change in direction. Good position of bunkering – it needs to have bunkers and run-offs in the right positions. I like plateaux in greens, not Mickey Mouse bumps but plateaux that you have to hit to get close to pins. Examples I would give you are De Pan, Hilversumsche and Eindhoven in the Netherlands.”

– Joost Luiten

“Contours. Contours and firmness. So can see what need to do and hit different shape shots in order to let the land help you. By doing that you maximise how far you can hit it off the tee and then on approaches you can use those slopes to get it close to the hole…or if you fail, be short sided. That’s the strategic element; if you get it wrong, it is a very, very hard up and down. It’s not tricky but for some reason nobody seems to know how to design courses like that any more. We play so many courses that could be way better, but they are not; thick rough and softish greens – and they’re boring to play and, I’m guessing, boring to watch.”

– Oliver Wilson

royal melbourne

“Firm greens. Because it makes it so challenging. You need to have a reachable par 4. And two par 5s that are reachable in two. Fontainebleau in France is a good example…short but tough, the 17th there is a great example of a fun hole.”

– Alex Levy

“Somewhere that needs you to shape the ball off the tee rather than being so wide that you can just bomb it anywhere. So that requires bunkering or tree lines. I also want to see fairly slopey greens that are fairly small with run-offs. That’s what makes a course fun. Wentworth is a great test for us and so is fun – but not for amateurs.”

– Thomas Detry

“A tough course for good players but is playable for everyone. So good luck with deciding what those are! A fun course shouldn’t have many if any cross hazards – either water or bunkers. So a tour player can play with a 36-handicapper and they can also enjoy it. Some movement in the green, but not stupid. Royal Melbourne and St Andrews are my two suggestions.”

– Robert Karlsson

“Everything in front of you. Distinct pin locations. Driveable par 4s. Short par 3s that require accurate shots – not this 200-yard s*** that we get – it’s f***ing boring. There are courses we play on tour where you think, ‘Really? What were they thinking?’ Views are always welcome. Condition has to be good but it’s not crucial if you’re playing for fun.”

– Nicolas Colsaerts

“Risk and reward. Par 3s that are penal but not long. They need to be short and with tricky greens. And let’s say I like Alps views as I’m Austrian.”

– Bernd Wiesberger

“Reachable par 5s. I like Wentworth now, it has improved a lot. I still have a few shots that I don’t have in my library, but I like it. I love Carnoustie, it is the best links course. The most demanding. St. Andrews is the most special and traditional but – and I know I am being crazy here – I prefer Carnoustie.”

– Alvaro Quiros

NCG’s Top 100 Fun Golf Courses in GB&I

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