The Open needs no introduction when it comes to major golf championships. Not only does it rank as the oldest in golfing history, this annual tournament always showcases the best in world golf when players compete for the famous Claret Jug. Founded in Scotland, The Open is still held at five top courses in the country, all of which offer challenging play in stunning surroundings. Read on to discover the Open championship courses in Scotland.
A bit about The Open
Prestwick Golf Club in the far west of Scotland lays claim to the fame of being the world’s first golf club to organise a major tournament. The first seeds for The Open were sown in 1860 on the third Friday in July at the Prestwick Club, which hosted the event annually until 1873. After that, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews – another legendary golf course – took over the organisation and hosting.
2018 is its 147th year. Nowadays The Open takes place at one of ten courses on the rota, all in Scotland and England. Back in 1951, the tournament made a rare sojourn across the Irish Sea to Royal Portrush, a course it returns to in another once-in-a-lifetime outing next year. This is, however, first and foremost a Scottish golfing occasion.
The most famous Open championship course of all
As far as the all-important golfing rules go, St Andrews stands as the seat of golf. It’s therefore fitting that the Old Course holds the record for the highest numbers of Opens held on the grounds. The championship has taken place on this ancient course a total of 29 times with the most recent in 2015.
Infamous for its quirky course – the holes known as Hell Bunker and Valley of Sin speak volumes for just how unusual the Old Course is – St Andrews makes a fitting background for any major championship. Getting a round in on these hallowed greens is difficult nowadays, but you can take a tour of the grounds and tick it off your golfing bucket list that way.
When Open championship courses turns nasty
That the 18-hole links course at Carnoustie is nicknamed Carnasty says a lot about the challenges along its fairways. Some golfers believe it’s the most difficult course in Scotland – and with over 550 to choose from that’s saying something!
Certainly golfers competing in The Open have had it hard. No champion winning here has hit less than 7 under par – perhaps this year’s competition will change that. The 2018 edition of the Claret Jug will be the 8th time Carnoustie has hosted.
Revamped but basking in glory
Turnberry’s Ailsa Course in South Ayrshire also has a rich history as an Open championship course in Scotland. The 18-holes now belong to Donald Trump who spent a small fortune on revamping the entire course and a new clubhouse in 2015.
Turnberry has hosted The Open just four times, but each has been a classic. The 1977 tournament has gone down in the annals of golf as a particularly nail-biting tournament. Known as the ‘Duel in the Sun’, it saw a young Tom Watson beat the veteran Jack Nicklaus in what was one of the most dramatic finals in the history of the sport. Watson’s final score of 268 (12 under par) is the course’s still-standing record.
The Open on the Firth of Forth
Muirfield in Gullane too has something of a golfing history. The club, founded in 1744, established the 13 Rules of Play and became one of the main hosts for major championships including The Open. The Open has been held in Muirfield six times, the most recent in 2013. The lowest score hit on the course during the championship is 271, 13 under par.
The course has a reputation as a straight-forward 18 holes with its own particular challenges. Golfers change direction at every hole, which adds a different wind factor to the game at every turn. Famous for its sweeping views of the Firth of Forth, Muirfield was ranked the 4th best golf course in the world by Golf Digest earlier this year.
A seriously challenging championship course
Tucked away in Ayrshire lies a course that describes itself as “a stern golfing examination” and Royal Troon certainly gives golfers a run for their clubs. Founded in 1878, this course also ranks among the oldest in the world and as one of the most challenging links courses anywhere. The club has hosted the Open a total of nine times, most recently in 2016.
The 8th hole – known as the Postage Stamp because of its tiny size – is the shortest hole on the 10 Open championship courses. The Railway (the 11th) is described simply as “long and dangerous”. Add to this the abundance of gorse and scrub lurking alongside the greens and it’s no wonder that many players at The Open stumble at Royal Troon.
Get yourself a golfing pad
Why not take a golfing party up to Scotland this July and see some of The Open action for yourself? We’ve got the perfect pad for a crowd, seeped in history and with 10 acres of private grounds. Practise your own drive at Arbroath and Montrose before you admire the professional way to do it at Carnoustie, just 11 miles away.
Stay in style at this 16th century castle complete with turrets, gun loops, a Great Hall and snooker table under a vaulted ceiling. Add a suit of armour, plenty of 4-poster beds and you’ve got a golfing holiday to remember. Book your stay before someone else does.
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