Carnoustie Links – one of the world's toughest golf courses


Carnoustie Links golf course is renowned for being one world’s toughest golf courses, ever since The Open Championship back in 1999. And, it’s safe to say opinions have not changed much since then.  

With Greats like Sergio Garcia shooting 89 in the opening Round and not one golfer breaking par, it was clear from day 1 that Carnoustie or Car(nastie) as it’s better known, will challenge even the best golfers in the world.

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The 1999 play-offs were won by Local Hero Paul Lawrie, he managed to produce two of the best shots of his life and with that beat Justin Leonard and Frenchman Jean van De Velde, to claim his only major championship win.

Lawrie became the first Scottish Open champion since Sandy Lyle, and his winning Score of +6 is still one of the highest winning scores since the 2nd world war.

Looking back at the 99 Open, it was remembered for 2 main reasons.

Reason one: the collapse of Frenchman Jean Van De Velde, needing only a 6 at the last to win, he made a triple bogey for 7 and the rest was history.

Reason two: how incredibly difficult the course was. It had narrow fairways, knee high thick rough, deep bunkers and a constant wind from the North Sea.

From this day forward, every golfer on the planet has wanted to test their golfing talents against the beast that is Carnoustie Links. Since 1999, Carnoustie has hosted the Open Championship on two further occasions; 2007 and 2018.

Both Championships were hugely exciting and filled with twists and turns at every hole. The 2007 Championships once again bared witness to another 18th hole collapse, play-off and unexpected win by Padraig Harrington over Sergio Garcia. The winning score was -7 mainly due to the benign conditions - it’s thought the beast that is Carnoustie took pity on the participants, as the wind didn’t blow and the course itself was reasonably soft due to a wet summer.

Interestingly enough, the 2007 Championships was also when the world got its first glimpse of the extremely talented golfer, and now well-known face that is Rory Mcilroy. The 18-year-old Northern Irishman made his major debut as an Amateur golfer at Carnoustie and actually went on to win the silver medal.

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The 2018 Open Championship saw the return of Tiger Woods to Scotland and with it to The Open Championship.

After what can only be described as one of the driest Summers in living memory, the course was not only looking parched and brown but also extremely fast. So much so, that on day one Brooks Koepka and a few other competitors, drove their balls all the way onto the first green - not something us mere mortals can even comprehend.

That very same year, previous Open Champion Padraig Harrington drove his opening shot at the 18th straight into the burn – a drive of almost 480 yards!

Carnoustie played very different to previous years, and accuracy in approach was key to scoring big. Italian Francesco Molinari, who’s golf game was ideally suited to these conditions, took the course by the scruff of the neck and with an almost exhibition like display in accuracy and short game skills, managed to beat the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory Mcilroy and Jordan Spieth, to win his first Major at one of the world’s most iconic venues.

Carnoustie Links genuinely is one of the world’s greatest golfing tests, continually questioning a golfer’s game, ability and skill.

One of Carnoustie’s most iconic assets include its incredibly well-placed bunkers. The design around the traps is exceedingly clever, and the finish (the Final 5 holes) are without doubt the most demanding of any course in the world.

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Although Carnoustie is a relentless and unforgiving course to say the least, it’s also a very enjoyable experience.

Top tip – the half-way house at the back of the 10th green is brilliant, and all golfers must stop there for one of their famous pies.

If you’re ever lucky enough to play at Carnoustie, there’s a few things you will come expect… friendly staff, stunning views, butterflies in your stomach and a smile on your face.