When it comes to dream courses I’d like to play, I’m really no different than 99% of all golfers: It’s St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, and Augusta National. You just can’t argue with the diverse history and appeal of these three courses.
But because they’re so obvious, let’s take them out of the running for a bit and talk about where else we’d like to play. A course that’s always been close to the top of the next echelon in my book is Carnoustie. It is widely acknowledged as being the most difficult course in The Open rotation, and it has a long and storied history as well as some very dramatic and tragic recent finishes.
Golf has been played on the Carnoustie links since the early 16:th century, but the official course opened in 1842, having been designed by Allan Robertson and Old Tom Morris. The original course only had 10 holes. Another eight holes were added in 1867.
The Open Championship was first hosted by Carnoustie in 1931, won by Tommy Armour, and it has been played there six additional times. Some of the more memorable tournaments were 1953, when Ben Hogan won his third major for the year; 1999, when Jean Van De Velde melted down in a nuclear reactor sort of a way on 18 to allow Paul Lawrie to win; and 2007, when Padraig Harrington beat Sergio Garcia in a playoff after more drama on the 18:th hole. Other winners include Henry Cotton in 1937, Gary Player in 1968, and Tom Watson in 1975.
While we’re on the topic, let’s talk about the 18:th hole a bit. It may possibly be the best finishing hole in all of golf. A 499 yard beast of a par four, with the famed Barry Burn running across and along the entire hole much like a Python Snake squeezing the very last bits of energy and courage out of a golfer’s body and soul. Van De Velde took a seven here in 1999 to fall back into a playoff which he would go on to lose. Harrington put two balls in the creek in 2007 to double bogey the hole, allowing Garcia to slide into a playoff even though he bogeyed the hole himself.
There are several courses that copy holes from Scotland and the UK, such as Royal Links in Las Vegas or The Tribute here in Dallas. It’s very unfortunate that neither layout has included a copy of this magnificent hole.
It has not been announced when Carnoustie will next host The Open.
Keep’em in the short stuff.