Angus, Scotland, United Kingdom
Carnoustie is one of the greatest golf courses in the world, but not for the usual reasons. It doesn’t have the spectacular scenery offered by many of its competitors, no magnificent seascapes, no lavish clubhouse or the fabulous history of its neighbour across the bay, St Andrews. Many will know it only because of Jean Van de Velde’s infamous implosion during the 1999 Open Championship, and will consider it particularly severe. Despite all these apparent shortcomings, Carnoustie remains special for one thing – its pure golf.
Each of its holes contributes a variety of elements to complete the jigsaw of the course. The direction of play changes constantly, bringing the prevailing winds into play from a differing direction on each hole and keeping the golfer alert. Some holes reward long drives, others require precision and planning. The course gets gradually more intricate, ending with what is possibly the most difficult last five holes of any elite golf course. It’s around this time that you will begin to appreciate another of its jewels – the witty caddies. These holes hold combinations of inconveniently placed pit bunkers, extraordinarily long distances from tee to green and the infamous Barrie Burn snaking through the course, defending the greens like a medieval moat. The 16th is a super-long 250 yard par three; the 14th is even longer as a 510 yard par four. Unsurprisingly, both are rated amongst the most difficult holes in the world. Despite the difficulty of the course, these are the best putting surfaces you will encounter anywhere in the world – to the extent that Golf Illustrated said they made putting too easy. As if that’s even possible!
(Image by SN#1 on Flickr)