Carnoustie Championship Course Review

Carnoustie delivers a complete test of golf with a fabulous selection of uniquely memorable holes.

Carnoustie Championship Course Review
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Carnoustie’s Championship course delivers a complete test of golf. It’s an immaculate stretch of links land with a fabulous selection of uniquely memorable holes. The finish is as good as it gets.

Carnoustie Championship Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 5

Previous Rankings

2019/20 - 5 2017/18 - 5 2015/16 - 6 2013/14 - 8 2011/12 - 7 2009/10 - 7

Summer Green Fees

Round - £270

Visitors: Visitor days are Tuesdays and Thursdays – morning fourballs, afternoon foursomes

Medal Tee: Par 72 – 6,945 Yards

Changes since previous ranking

None advised

Carnoustie Championship Course Review

The 17th
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Carnoustie Championship Course Review

The challenging Angus links is a stalwart of the top-10 of our ranking.

There’s a strong case for saying that Carnoustie’s championship course may be the most challenging in the country. When it comes to quality, it is certainly one of the best golf courses in Scotland and one of the best links courses in the UK. It delivers a complete test of golf as displayed each time a Major championship visits, whether that be The Open Championship, or the AIG Women's Open.

Carnoustie Golf Links Championship Course Review

Francesco Molinari won over baked fairways in 2018 with the ball running like a scalded cat upon landing. Padraig Harrington came through an epic tussle with Sergio Garcia in 2007. But, for many Carnoustie will always stir memories of 1999, Jean Van de Velde’s 72nd hole collapse, and Paul Lawrie’s famous comeback victory.

Carnoustie seen from above during the 2018 Open. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

There may be no views of the sea around the course at Carnoustie but the terrain is pure links. The turf is firm and sandy over natural bumps and hollows. The narrow fairways are protected by gorse, streams and magnetic bunkering as they pick their way carefully towards the vast, supremely maintained, greens.

There are no weak holes on the course, each demanding excellence. Whether the requirement is solid, accurate ball striking, as on long par-4s like the testing 2nd and 15th, or a more strategic approach, as on the short but very well protected 3rd.

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Golf at Carnoustie began in the 16th century but the first course didn’t appear until 1850 when legendary St Andrews professional Alan Robertson designed a 10-hole track.

It was Robertson’s protégé Old Tom Morris who extended the layout to 18, but the Championship course as we know it didn’t really begin to take shape until 1926 when James Braid oversaw extensive modifications.

Prior to the Open Championship of 1931 it was decided the finishing holes were not challenging enough so, local man James Wright redesigned the final three. It’s fair to say he was successful. Wright, arguably, created the toughest closing stretch in British golf.

The closing par-4 18th.

Assessor Feedback

Carnoustie really does test your game, with no respite. From start to finish, the course challenges your skills in course management to perfection. The last five holes deliver pure brilliance, and I can think of no better run for home. It’s a superb links offering a great mixture of memorable holes.

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GM Verdict

Carnoustie’s Championship course delivers a complete test of golf. It’s an immaculate stretch of links land with a fabulous selection of uniquely memorable holes. The finish is as good as it gets.

For more golf course content, check out the Golf Monthly website.

Fergus Bisset
Fergus Bisset

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?