The European Tour takes a few knocks from golf course aficionados about the layouts the tour frequently plays as it takes events to new coordinates – and sponsors – around the world. Some criticism is fair, some less so.
But it’s all moot this week. Just kick back, turn on the tube and enjoy some of the best golf courses in the world for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
St. Andrews Old Course. Carnoustie. Kingsbarns. They make up an incredible Scottish links triumvirate around St. Andrews, the best one-week professional rota in golf.
The Old Course is, of course, the Old Course. This is golf. Old Tom. Young Tom. All the way to Tiger Woods. This is the home of golf, the marketing says – and it’s right. And always exciting to watch.
Carnoustie is no slouch, itself. Home to eight past British Opens – ahem, Open Championships – Carnoustie’s Championship Course presents one of the most challenging and thrilling conclusions in golf. Just ask Jean van de Velde about the dreaded Barry Burn, where his chance at the 1999 British Open title was ingloriously drowned.
Kingsbarns (Golfweek files)
And to people who don’t follow modern golf architecture closely, Kingsbarns might seem like a third wheel in this rota. Trust us, it’s not. The Kyle Phillips design that opened in 2000 has climbed all the various course rankings – including Golfweek’s Best – to become one of the most desirable tee times in Europe.
The only thing that comes close to this rota on the PGA Tour is the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, with Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore Course hosting celebrities and pros alike each year. Pebble Beach ranks No. 9 on Golfweek’s Best Classic Courses list for the U.S., and Spyglass is No. 31 among all Modern U.S. courses. Not bad at all. It’s hard to beat the vibe on this section of California coastline.
But when it comes to elite course rankings, no rota compares to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. And like the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Dunhill Links also serves up a celebrity field in a pro-am format to make things a bit more interesting. Each team will play the three courses over the first three days, with teams and individuals that make the cut playing the Old Course on Sunday.
Keep scrolling for more on each of the courses in this week’s rota.
Old Course at St. Andrews
The Old Course at St. Andrews (Golfweek files)
Year built: Unknown, but the roots stretch back to the 15th century.
Designer: Unknown who laid out the various routings in use through the early centuries, but Old Tom Morris is credited with much of how the course appears today, including the 18-hole format and the design of the first and 18th greens.
Golfweek’s Best ranking: No. 2 among Great Britain and Ireland’s Classic Courses built before 1960.
British Opens: Has hosted the Open 29 times and will again in 2022.
Carnoustie's Championship Course
Carnoustie’s Championship Course (David Cannon/Getty Images)
Year built: Official records go back to 1842, but the clubs says golf was played over the links ground even earlier.
Designer: The club reports that a local publisher named Robert Chambers established a routing in the 1830s. Allan Robertson laid out the bones of the current course in 1850, with Old Tom Morris renovating it in the 1870s, followed by James Braid working on the layout in 1926. James Wright laid out the current closing stretch around Barry Burn before the 1937 British Open.
Golfweek’s Best ranking: No. 14 among Great Britain and Ireland’s Classic Courses built before 1960.
British Opens: Eight past Opens.
Kingsbarns (Golfweek files)
Year opened: 2000
Designer: Kyle Phillips
Golfweek’s Best: No. 1 among Great Britain and Ireland’s Modern Courses built in or after 1960.
British Open: It’s not on the major’s rota – nothing new is. So kick back and enjoy this week’s coverage of the best modern course in St. Andrews.