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Carnoustie Burnside Course

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Carnoustie Burnside is a wonderful balance of challenge and intrigue.  One might say the Burnside is nay on perfect holiday golf.  It doesn’t hurt that the course enjoys very good conditioning, as one would expect being part of the Carnoustie family of links.  Indeed, one gets several glimpses of the Championship course as the two are intertwined.  The conditions enhance what is a glorious variety of greens and shot options running through gorse, heather and perfectly hummocky terrain. Mind you, the Burnside is no pushover.  The links is 6000 yards with a par of 68 and a standard scratch of 70.  There is work to do in earning a good score!  While very much the baby brother of the Championship Course, the Burnside has been an Open qualifying course in the past. In 1953, Ben Hogan qualified for the Open playing over the Burnside. As the name suggests, the Barry Burn is featured on some holes (most notably on the 17th!), but for the most part it is the fairly tight fairways, clever – hard to hold greens and firm conditions which guard against smash mouth golf.  That said, on most holes the rough was well kept.  Balls could be found quickly, but not necessarily easily played.  James Braid is the architect of record for the Burnside.  That shouldn’t be surprising as Braid designed many dozens of courses in the UK.  What is surprising is the lack of respect for Braid as an architect.  A round at the Burnside will hopefully dispel any myths concerning Braid as penal designer of golf courses.

There are three great holes.  Two par threes and a long par 4.  The 9th is a medium length short hole played to an artificially raised green some ten feet above the surrounding land.  A bunker front right, if found, will in all probability lead to a kiss on the card.  Any par saved from a wayward tee shot should be savoured.

The 14th, another par 3 at the alarming distance of 228 yards, often playing into a brisk wind, is one of the very best long one-shotters on the planet.  With the green tucked up a dune one would have thought the tee would be further right for a straight angle tee shot.  No, instead we must play across the left dune.  Yes, the hole is quite awkward, but like Prestwick’s Sea Headrig, all the more brilliant for being so.

The penultimate hole is the kissing cousin of the 17th on the big course.  The 17th is very close to the design concepts of the heralded 17th on the Championship Course. Barry Burn harries (blind from the tee!) the golfer throughout the entire 473 yards, requiring two forced carries.  The trouble doesn’t end there. The green is terribly small with gorse and other such medieval-like Scottish growth protecting the right and rear.   When one finishes the hole climb the berm and take a look at the other 17th – it has nothing on Sinkies.

Several holes make up a fine supporting cast and give reason for return visits.  Yes, The Burnside is definitely a keeper.

Carnoustie Championship Course: A must play links

Kingsbarns Golf Links: One of the classy newcomers to the Scottish golfing scene.

St Andrews Castle Course: A new course characterized by difficult greens and bold features.

St Andrews New Course: An Old Tom Morris delight.

St Andrews Old: The mother of all architecture.