Carnoustie Report

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Warning: Novel length-post!

This isn't so much of a review, but more of a trip report of some kind.

If you want a review of the actual course itself, then here it is: Fantastic.

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Sitting at the office with post Carnoustie depression, so thought I’d write a little piece about my first trip to this magical place.

Found a package deal from Golf Travel Centre in August last year, and the clock has been ticking extremely slowly since then. 2 nights’ accommodation at the golf hotel including breakfast and one round on each of the 3 courses for a bargain price of £275.

The days leading up to our journey from London to Carnoustie, the BBC must’ve suspected that they were attacked in a DDOS attack by Russian hackers as “someone” updated the weather report for Carnoustie at a rate of about 300 times a minute. It all looked swell on Thursday in the car, but about an hour after being welcomed to Scotland via a large billboard sign the clouds gathered in a formation making me wonder if we somehow had been teleported into an episode of Game of Thrones. Coming into Dundee the rain was pouring down, while the weather forecast apps was showing “light rain and sun”. Me and my playing partner looked at each other and asked ourselves if it was possible that the forecasts were somehow Scotland-calibrated, and that this was what light rain meant up there.

We finally came to Carnoustie and check in at the Hotel was painless, so up with the bags and down to the bar overlooking the 18th green. We were surprised that so many decided on leaving their 2nd shot short of the burn to give themselves a short chip on to the green (this is something I’ll get back to later on…) to try and putt in for par, but most seemed happy to settle for a bogey.

As said earlier, we had one round booked for each day (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), and started off with the Burnside course. Eyes wide open at 6 am, with a feeling in my body reminding me off Christmas in my childhood days. Me and my playing partner decided to walk the Championship course before breakfast as sun was rising. Never seen so many green keepers in my life. The first noticeable thing was Hogan’s Alley. Standing on the tee looking out over the hole, we both asked what the “thing” was. Where are you supposed to go with your tee-shot besides between the bunkers and the OOB?

We walked in after having seen about 10-12 holes to get something to eat and prepare ourselves for our first experience of the links. The starter at the Burnside course was very friendly, the sun was shining and fairly wind still, so inside me I thought that I had a good chance of getting a good score. I started with 2 blobs. Managed to find the green on the first par 3, and my first par was signed, sealed and delivered! Oh, I got ahead of myself there. Coming around the turn I had 10 points, and confidence down in my shoes. Managed to scrape together 9 straight 2-pointers on the back 9 though, so the day wasn’t a complete disaster. I really enjoyed the Burnside course bar the first 4 holes which felt they were a bit of “alibi-holes” just to get 18 holes in. But the course turned around on the 5th which was a lovely par 3 that was surrounded by the burn who was like a snake surrounding the hole place.

Post round drinks and watch the players who were finishing their Championship round. Droves and droves of Americans who all had caddies with them. The Americans sure did splash their cash in the shop as well, which of course is something Carnoustie had taken notice to, as the prices were a bit steep in my opinion on most things. The obligatory ball marker came in at £14, so I had to put down the £5 note I had in my hand and use the contactless option instead.



Day 2 and the Buddon course on the menu. Overall, I liked the setting of this course better than Burnside as it had a a somewhat mix of links and parkland feel to it. The greens on the Buddon could’ve been better though, but they weren’t bad by any means. I got my first and only birdie here, so that enhanced the experience.



Le Grande Finale. Sunday. Tee time 11:40 on the Championship course. Once again the alarm was set at 8:30, but I was wide awake at 6 am. Walked the parts of the Championship course that I missed during the first morning before heading for breakfast. Time was moving annoyingly slow, and I decided to head to the practice green already at 9 to warm up. Finally, the time was come to get in line to tee off. I was shaking of adrenaline and nervous as ever been on a golf course. The 4-ball ahead of us did calm my nerves down a bit though after one of them pulled it so much left the ball went out of bounds and ended up somewhere behind the Rookery. The second guy pulled his shot as well and ended up in the burn.



We got greeted on the tee again by a very warm and friendly starter who told us stories of what I can only imagine he had been telling for years and years, but it didn’t feel as he was putting it on. He explained the line of direction on the first, said to try and just enjoy it, and if you place your ball strategically, the course would be like a sweet pussy cat – but if not…

Despite a raising pulse, my heart pounding through my shirt and shaking hands, I managed to get the driver right down the fairway and it felt like I was invincible. My approach shot was a soft pitch who landed 15 feet from pin, but I still managed to 3-putt it. Second hole with a fairway bunker in the middle of the fairway, about 200 yards from tee, and then bunkers on both sides, about 40 yards further away. I yet again hit a good drive, but the ball slowly but surely leaked out a bit to the right, and of course it got swallowed by the bunker. Took me 2 shots out, and hole ended with a blob. I wasn’t down beat though as I had actually hit some decent shots. After this things just clicked and I pared 3 holes on the trot. Life was magnificent, sun was shining, I was playing in shorts and not a worry in the world. Little did I know…

On the 9th I hit a perfect drive, but an even better 6 iron to the pin which was about 165 yards away into the wind. About 12 feet away and just didn’t put enough in it to get it in the hole, as I left the put just shy of 2 feet short. I had told my playing partners prior to the round that if we’re not talking inches, I want to hole out. Walking up to the ball one of the guys said 2it’s good you can have it”, and instead of calmly marking the ball I got slightly annoyed, put myself in an awkward position in order not to get in the putting line of one of the others and hit the ball. Of course I missed. And here starts my own Michael Douglas Falling Down-collapse. I had 18 points after 9 holes on Carnoustie Championship course, and one missed putt was all it took for me to fall into a big black hole of negative thoughts. I shanked my chip shot on the next hole, and it just snowballed from there. I tried to tell myself to just enjoy such a magnificent course with all its history, and the conditions couldn’t have been better. A gentle breeze, sun shining and 9 holes of great golf. I had none of it in my mind at this point though, which is something looking back now I’m deeply disappointed with in myself. I hit a few more good shots here and there, but managed to find my way into trouble on the rest of the holes, with the best saved to last. Perfect drive on the 18th, leaving me with 175 yards to the front of the green, meaning I had to carry about 160 to get over the burn. I had seen so many people on the previous days take that same shot on and end up in the burn. It’s like an optical illusion. You look at the course planner and the sprinkler head and it says the same. 175 to front green. Standing there, it looks like 220 to the green. I gripped probably harder on my club than I have ever done before and pulled the trigger just to see the ball leaking out right and getting swallowed by the burn. Walking up towards the green I felt like Van De Velde, and the trip ended the same way it had started 3 days earlier – with a blob.

We had a quick drink and ran through the combined internal competition scores for all days and then got back in the car for a 8 hour journey back to London.

Getting through the front door, my girlfriend asked if I’d ever go back. How naïve of her. I had already started to look for another deal to get back up there while sipping on my drink on the 19th.



I’ve got unfinished business, and I intend to set it straight as soon as I possibly can.
 
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Cracking report, have played the Championship course once myself through this forum and fared quite well, hit it half decent. Sometimes being totally unfamiliar can help, just play what you see. Walking the course in advance though? That's keen.:eek: Very enjoyable. Those last 4 or 5 holes are tough, can destroy a card but stick in the memory.
 
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Our tee times on the first 2 days was 13:07 and 14:32, and given that I woke up at 6 am out of sheer excitement every morning I couldn't help myself but to walk it! I had 5 pars on it, all on the front 9. That missed putt was, as already written, the start of my biggest melt down I've ever experienced on a golf course, and yes, add to that that the back 9 is by far the tougher of the 2. Question, did you find Hogan's Alley that special? Don't get me wrong, it's a great hole, but I'm thinking about the whole story about him taking it on the way he did. Is there any other way of playing it? I sure didn't see it. Just hit and hope it will land somewhere in the middle.
 

patricks148

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Like a lot of links course i suppose it would depend on what tee's you play from and what the wind was like.

played it when the 16th needed driver and 9 iron to reach the green and 7 iron another time also when 17 was a drive and a flick and other time driver, 3 wood, wedge.

first time i played it 18 was driver, 3 wood, 2 iron and only just made it on the green. the guys i've been with always insist on playing from the back tee's
 
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Like a lot of links course i suppose it would depend on what tee's you play from and what the wind was like.

played it when the 16th needed driver and 9 iron to reach the green and 7 iron another time also when 17 was a drive and a flick and other time driver, 3 wood, wedge.

first time i played it 18 was driver, 3 wood, 2 iron and only just made it on the green. the guys i've been with always insist on playing from the back tee's

We were extremely lucky with the weather the whole weekend. I don't think you'll get much calmer conditions than we had. With that said, the wind still made a few of the holes really tough. With the wind against, to actually reach, with the wind in your back, to know which club to chose not to over hit it. But that's what I love about links golf that you're not only playing the course, but also with the weather conditions, as long as it's somewhat playable.
 

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We were extremely lucky with the weather the whole weekend. I don't think you'll get much calmer conditions than we had. With that said, the wind still made a few of the holes really tough. With the wind against, to actually reach, with the wind in your back, to know which club to chose not to over hit it. But that's what I love about links golf that you're not only playing the course, but also with the weather conditions, as long as it's somewhat playable.

most links courses can be there for the taking with no wind, its how you deal with the conditions that make the difference.

now you just need to get yourself to;Muirfield, TOC, Troon, Royal Aberdeen, Royal Dornoch.... ect, ect;)
 

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Apologies as I don't have the patience to read any long posts but seen Patrick mention about tees and wind. No idea what tees you played from but if it was the boxes I find it a very disappointing course, play off the medals and it's almost a different course altogether but the boxes for me and not much more than a drive and a low to mid iron on most holes, not what I'm looking for from an Open Championship course.
 
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Our tee times on the first 2 days was 13:07 and 14:32, and given that I woke up at 6 am out of sheer excitement every morning I couldn't help myself but to walk it! I had 5 pars on it, all on the front 9. That missed putt was, as already written, the start of my biggest melt down I've ever experienced on a golf course, and yes, add to that that the back 9 is by far the tougher of the 2. Question, did you find Hogan's Alley that special? Don't get me wrong, it's a great hole, but I'm thinking about the whole story about him taking it on the way he did. Is there any other way of playing it? I sure didn't see it. Just hit and hope it will land somewhere in the middle.

Re Hogan's alley it is a good hole and visually impressive, all in the drive, OOB left, didn't cause me any trouble. Maybe it was different in Ben Hogans day, they'd be hitting much shorter distances back then and also playing off the back tees, i think he played with a fade and boldly went right down the OOB line to get in position for birdie, not sure, must be a story there to get the hole named after him. 18 is the signature hole for me though even before VdV made it infamous in 99 Open.
 

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Very good.

Not all the Open courses are on my bucket list, but Carnoustie certainly is.

I remember the ‘99 Open, but in 2007, although not a keen golfer at that point I was watching it on TV regularly. I devoured every single second of the final day with Harrington and Garcia and my love affair with the Open well and truly started.
 
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Re Hogan's alley it is a good hole and visually impressive, all in the drive, OOB left, didn't cause me any trouble. Maybe it was different in Ben Hogans day, they'd be hitting much shorter distances back then and also playing off the back tees, i think he played with a fade and boldly went right down the OOB line to get in position for birdie, not sure, must be a story there to get the hole named after him. 18 is the signature hole for me though even before VdV made it infamous in 99 Open.

Yeah, obviously a big difference with how it was played back in the days, but I just don't see any other way of playing it rather than go in between there. :) But it's all good history, so just something that popped into my mind when standing there on the tee.

most links courses can be there for the taking with no wind, its how you deal with the conditions that make the difference.

now you just need to get yourself to;Muirfield, TOC, Troon, Royal Aberdeen, Royal Dornoch.... ect, ect;)

If it wasn't so bloody expensive to play these courses (along with travel, accomodation etc) I would've happily done them all by now! They're all on the to-do-list though. So hopefully in a few years time I'll have them all ticked off the list!


Very good.

Not all the Open courses are on my bucket list, but Carnoustie certainly is.

I remember the ‘99 Open, but in 2007, although not a keen golfer at that point I was watching it on TV regularly. I devoured every single second of the final day with Harrington and Garcia and my love affair with the Open well and truly started.

You won't be dissapointed if you go there! You basically live around the corner so just get in the car and get it done!

Apologies as I don't have the patience to read any long posts but seen Patrick mention about tees and wind. No idea what tees you played from but if it was the boxes I find it a very disappointing course, play off the medals and it's almost a different course altogether but the boxes for me and not much more than a drive and a low to mid iron on most holes, not what I'm looking for from an Open Championship course.

Each to their own! We played the yellow tee's at about 6,600 and it probably would've been a simple story if I could keep my ball on the middle of the fairway around a course, but as that's not the case I found it challenging. Add to that the history and it was a great experience for me.
 

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Each to their own! We played the yellow tee's at about 6,600 and it probably would've been a simple story if I could keep my ball on the middle of the fairway around a course, but as that's not the case I found it challenging. Add to that the history and it was a great experience for me.

It may well say 6600 on the card from the melons but I struggle to believe that and so many of the holes with the exception of 9 from the boxes isn't much more than a drive and a short iron with the obvious exceptions of the par 5s.
 
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Midnight

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It may well say 6600 on the card for the melons but I struggle to believe that and so many of the holes with the exception of 9 from the boxes isn't much more than a drive and a short iron with the obvious exceptions of the par 5s.

That's the beauty of golf though, different tees to experience different things. For me playing from the medals would probably be to hard. The yellows would give me a chance to enjoy it more yet still at my level provide a challenge.

I do understand that lower handicaps would sometimes/most of the time prefer the full challenge/distance though.

Cracking write up and glad you enjoyed it young Lilly.
 
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That's the beauty of golf though, different tees to experience different things. For me playing from the medals would probably be to hard. The yellows would give me a chance to enjoy it more yet still at my level provide a challenge.

I do understand that lower handicaps would sometimes/most of the time prefer the full challenge/distance though.

Cracking write up and glad you enjoyed it young Lilly.

Hopefully a few years time down the line I can say the same thing as the happyhacker, but for now yellow was well enough to pose a real challenge to me as well as it's not only the length of the course that is the issue, but the placement of bunkers etc. And regarding the length I can only go by what it says on the scorecard and on the tee. Perhaps it played shorter than 6,600, I don't know.

Glad you liked it!
 
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It may well say 6600 on the card from the melons but I struggle to believe that and so many of the holes with the exception of 9 from the boxes isn't much more than a drive and a short iron with the obvious exceptions of the par 5s.

Funny you mentioned the 9th. We had the wind in our back and coincidentally I managed to hit probably one of the best drives in my life which broke 300 yards so only had a little wedge in and 2-putt for par. :)
 

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It may well say 6600 on the card from the melons but I struggle to believe that and so many of the holes with the exception of 9 from the boxes isn't much more than a drive and a short iron with the obvious exceptions of the par 5s.

That's why you should play vintage clubs, then you'll get the challenge without having to look for courses/tees approaching or beyond 7,000 yards.
 

patricks148

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That's why you should play vintage clubs, then you'll get the challenge without having to look for courses/tees approaching or beyond 7,000 yards.


thats what i like about Hickory clubs, moray new yesterday only just over 6000 and still a challenge with hickory, was still having to use a brassie or driver on some 2nd shots
 

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thats what i like about Hickory clubs, moray new yesterday only just over 6000 and still a challenge with hickory, was still having to use a brassie or driver on some 2nd shots

Hickory and vintage aren't that far apart either.
You're still using a small wooden head on your driver/fairway woods.
Hybrids don't exist.
Irons have advanced a little from hickory days and have better soles and shape but (if you play blades) they're still a solid lump of metal with no hot faces etc and lofts are 2, 3 or even 4 clubs less than some models we're seeing produced now.

Unless you're playing scratch competitions, bring some enjoyment back into your game and don't worry about handicap and distance. :)
 

patricks148

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Hickory and vintage aren't that far apart either.
You're still using a small wooden head on your driver/fairway woods.
Hybrids don't exist.
Irons have advanced a little from hickory days and have better soles and shape but (if you play blades) they're still a solid lump of metal with no hot faces etc and lofts are 2, 3 or even 4 clubs less than some models we're seeing produced now.

Unless you're playing scratch competitions, bring some enjoyment back into your game and don't worry about handicap and distance. :)

are you playing in any of the other BGCS events this year?

3 things the end of the months
Hickory Vs Nairn at Nairn
Scottish Hickory Championship Moray new
George Colville at Hopeman

The latter two are perfect for Hickory
 

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are you playing in any of the other BGCS events this year?

3 things the end of the months
Hickory Vs Nairn at Nairn
Scottish Hickory Championship Moray new
George Colville at Hopeman

The latter two are perfect for Hickory

At the moment I'm down for the Midlands Hickory and also hope to play the MacKenzie match.
 
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