Birkdale and beyond: the greatest golf links in the world

Source:   —  July 17, 2017, at 7:57 AM

Here'south a guide to those ten tracks, plus some some alternative options nearby. Royal BirkdaleThe Lancashire links, in northwest England, has been in existence since one thousand eight hundred ninety-seven and is easily recognized by its one thousand nine hundred thirty art-deco clubhouse which looks love a liner.

Birkdale and beyond: the greatest golf links in the world

Golf'south origins start some six hundred years ago on the links lands of Scotland and it's on these same tracts the British Open is played out every year.

Here'south a guide to those ten tracks, plus some some alternative options nearby.

Royal Birkdale

The Lancashire links, in northwest England, has been in existence since one thousand eight hundred ninety-seven and is easily recognized by its one thousand nine hundred thirty art-deco clubhouse which looks love a liner.

The course fans seaward, with the two nines returning to the clubhouse, with flat fairways and objective greens rewarding accurate shots.

Ireland'south Padraig Harrington won the latest of the nine Opens at Royal Birkdale in 2008.

Best course nearby: Hillside is a hidden gem and shares the same stretch of sandhills, while Southport & Ainsdale is a two-time Ryder Cup venue which winds through rollings links land.

Royal Birkdale, Waterloo Road, Southport, England PR8 2LX; +forty-four (0) one thousand seven hundred four five hundred fifty-two twenty

Green fees: From £165-245 ($213-316)

St. Andrews

Known as the "Residence of Golf," the game in various forms has been played over the St. Andrews links since the fifteenth century.

The historic seaside and Univ town N E of Edinburgh on Fife'south E coast is residence to seven golf courses with the Elderly Course at its heart.

The venerable layout occupies a windswept triangle of dunes, hills and gorse bordered by the W Sands Shore to the E and sandwiched between the New Course (one thousand eight hundred ninety-five) and the Eden, with the Jubilee, Strathtyrum and Balgove also occupying the venerable links.

The Elderly Course begins from in front of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club clubhouse and winds out to the Eden Estuary before turning for home, with many blind shots over seas of gorse and fearsome pot bunkers with names love "Hell" and "The Coffins," which require careful navigation.

The course features an iconic finishing stretch -- the "Road Hole" seventeenth passing the Elderly Course Hotel and the eighteenth across the Swilcan Bridge back up into town.

Playing the Elderly Course is a bucket-list item for most golfers and a ballot, drawn forty-eight hours in advance, is the most common means of entry, although there are Ltd advance bookings.

St. Andrews has hosted twenty-nine Opens stretching back to one thousand eight hundred seventy-three, and has seen some of the game'south biggest names lift the Claret Jug, including Tiger Woods in two-thousandth and 2005.

"I fell in like with it the first day I played it. There'south just number other golf course that's even remotely close," said 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus.

Best course nearby:: Just along the coast is Kingsbarns, a blockbuster of a modern links in a spectacular cliff-top setting, opened in two-thousandth; further S lies Crail, where the Balcomie course (one thousand eight hundred ninety-five) offers a step back in time and a quintessential links experience.

St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland; +forty-four (0)one thousand three hundred thirty-four four hundred sixty-six six hundred sixty-six

Green fees: From £88-175 ($113-226)


S of Troon on the same stretch of Ayrshire coastline sits Turnberry, nowadays best known as being owned by US President Donald Trump.

The celebrated course was bought by POTUS in two thousand-fourteenth and underwent a multi-million dollar revamp along with the hotel.

The redesign of the Ailsa course includes bringing the iconic Turnberry lighthouse more the fore with a new ninth green close its base. The setting and the views out to the Aisla Craig rock and the Isle of Arran are still sublime.

Turnberry hosted its first Open in one thousand nine hundred seventy-seventh, a tournament which became well-known for the "Duel in the Sun" between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.

The course latest held the Open in two thousand-ninth when American Stewart Cink beat the 59-year-old Watson in a playoff.

Best course nearby: Trump'south son Eric recently opened the new "King Robert the Bruce" course, a redesign of the elderly Kintyre course with the same sublime views.

Trump Turnberry, Turnberry, Ayrshire, Scotland, KA26 9LT; +forty-four (0) one thousand six hundred fifty-five three hundred thirty-one thousand

Green fees: Visitor £200-350 ($258-452); Hotel resident £100-250 ($129-323)

READ: Is Turnberry'south new ninth the best par-3 on the planet?


The Championship course is one of three layouts on the Carnoustie links E of Dundee in the county of Angus on Scotland'south E coast.

The challenging, heavily bunkered track is arguably the toughest on the Open rotation, particularly when the wind blows. It'south also the longest Open course at 7.421 yards.

It was known as "Car-nasty" during the one thousand nine hundred ninety-nine Open because of its thick rough, narrow fairways and a potent spell of horrible weather. That year, Frenchman Jean van de Velde famously contemplated a shot out of a stream while leading on the final hole before Scotsman Paul Lawrie won a playoff.

Carnoustie has hosted seven Opens, most recently in two thousand-seventh when Padraig Harrington beat Sergio Garcia in a playoff. It'll stage the tournament again in two thousand-eighteenth.

Best course nearby:: Carnoustie'south Burnside course offers a characterful test far from its fearsome big brother.

Carnoustie Golf Links, Links Parade, Carnoustie, DD7 7JE, Scotland; +forty-four (0) one billion two hundred forty-one million eight hundred two thousand two hundred seventy

Green fees: From £87-175 ($112-226)

Royal Troon

Troon was founded in one thousand eight hundred seventy-eighth but took its current form ten years later in the S Ayrshire town overlooking the Firth of Clyde on Scotland'south W coast S of Glasgow.

The Elderly Course is a classic "out-and-back" links, related to the Elderly Course at St. Andrews, with a relatively gentle start and finish and a devilish center portion through spectacular linksland with views across to the Isle of Arran. Wind is its major defense -- the breeze in your face coming residence presents a formidable challenge.

Royal Troon is famed for the "Postage Stamp," its notorious 123-yard par-three eighth hole, and "Railway," the eleventh which runs following to the train track with a blind drive over a sea of gorse.

Awarded Royal status in one thousand nine hundred seventy-eighth to honor its centenary, Troon has hosted nine Open Championships, most recently in two thousand-sixteenth with an epic final-day duel between Phil Mickelson and eventual winner Henrik Stenson of Sweden.

Best course nearby: Prestwick hosted the first Open Championship in one thousand eight hundred-sixtieth and the next eleven until the tournament moved briefly to St. Andrews. In all the historic links just down the road from Troon hosted twenty-four Opens.

Royal Troon, Craigend Road, Troon, KA ten 6EP, Scotland; +forty-four (0) one thousand two hundred ninety-two three hundred eleven five hundred fifty-five

Green fees: From £195-230 ($252-297)

READ: Prestwick -- birthplace of a legend

Royal Lytham and St. Annes

The Lancashire course was opened on its current site in one thousand eight hundred ninety-seventh on a pocket of duneland S of Blackpool.

Unlike other Open venues, it's hemmed in on all sides by houses but it retains a linksy charm, though with a sting in the tail.

There are two hundred six bunkers which require players to thread their way around rather than attempt to overpower the relatively brief 7.118-yard course.

Royal Lytham hosted the latest of its eleven Opens in two thousand-twelfth when Ernie Els triumphed. It's also famed as the course where legendary European golfer Seve Ballesteros hit a shot from a car park on his way to his breakthrough major triumph in one thousand nine hundred seventy-ninth. He also won again when the tournament returned in one thousand nine hundred eighty-eighth.

Best course nearby: Formby is closer to Royal Birkdale but this revered elderly track through dunes and pinewoods is acknowledged as a classic.

Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Links Gate, Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire, FY8 3LQ; +forty-four (0)one thousand two hundred fifty-three seven hundred twenty-four thousand two hundred six

Green fees: From £135-240 ($174-310)


Residence to the historic Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, Muirfield Links has been in existence since 1891.

The celebrated course lies to the E of Edinburgh on the S shore of the Firth of Forth in E Lothian, dubbed "Scotland'south Golf Coast."

The testing track features two loops of nine running in opposite directions, which ensures the wind is never blowing from the same direction on consecutive holes.

The club has been the middle of controversy in recent years after first voting not to authorize women members in two thousand-sixteenth before reversing its decision and changing its membership policy this year.

Muirfield hosted the latest of its sixteen Opens in two thousand-thirteenth when American left-hander Phil Mickelson clinched his fifth major title.

Best course nearby: N Berwick is one of the gems of Scottish golf, quirky and charismatic with a stunning seaside setting and views out to Bass Rock.

Muirfeld (Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers), Duncur Road, Muirfield, Gullane, E Lothian, Scotland, EH31 2EG; +forty-four (0)one thousand six hundred twenty eight hundred forty-two thousand one hundred twenty-three

Green fees: From £110-230 ($142-297)

Royal St. George's

The most southerly Open venue in the UK at Sandwich in Kent, and the first English course to host the tournament.

Royal St. George'south was founded in one thousand eight hundred eighty-seventh and winds through dunes overlooking Sandwich Bay S E of London. It's a testing mix of undulating fairways, slick greens and daunting bunkers, none more so than the towering "Himalaya" on the fourth hole, at 40ft tall the highest bunker in the UK.

The course is also the setting for the well-known golf match between James Bond and Goldfinger in the Ian Fleming novel. Fleming, who named the course Royal St. Marks, was a member of Royal St. George's.

It hosted the latest of its fourteen Opens in two thousand-eleventh when Northern Ireland'south Darren Clarke won his sole major title.

Best course nearby: In the dunes to the S lies Royal Cinque Ports, an equally compelling historic links which hosted the Open in one thousand nine hundred-ninth and 1920.

Royal St. George's, Sandwich, Kent CT13 9PB; +forty-four (0) one thousand three hundred four six hundred thirteen thousand ninety

Green fees: From £100-190 ($129-245)

Royal Liverpool

"Hoylake," as it's commonly known, was built in one thousand eight hundred sixty-ninth on the racecourse at Liverpool Hunt Club and retained a dual function for the first few years of its life.

Located on the Wirral peninsula on the seaward side of the River Mersey from Liverpool, it presents a classic links challenge following to the shore and overlooking the Irish Sea at the mouth of the Dee Estuary.

Well-known golf scribe Bernard Darwin once wrote: "Hoylake, blown upon by mighty winds, breeder of mighty champions."

Past winners of the Open here comprise Tiger Woods during a firm and fiery week in two thousand-sixth, and Rory McIlroy, who led from start to finish in winning his third major in 2014.

Best course nearby: Wallasey is another jewel of seaside golf just up the coast from Hoylake.

Royal Liverpool, Meols Drive, Hoylake, Wirral, CH47 4AL; +forty-four (0) one billion five hundred sixteen million three hundred twenty-three thousand one hundred one

Green fees: From £90-200 ($116-258)

Royal Portrush

Hugging the northern coast of Northern Ireland, Royal Portrush is the only Open venue exterior Scotland and England.

The spectacular Dunluce links over a sandy shore was laid out in one thousand eight hundred eighty-eighth and redesigned in one thousand nine hundred thirty-second with a single loop of holes meandering through dunes and along the cliff top with fixed changes of direction and elevation. The ferocious N Atlantic weather adds to the challenge.

The course is overlooked by the ruins of Dunluce Castle which gives it its name, with views over to Donegal in the W and Islay and Scotland to the N and east. The rock formations of Giant'south Causeway lie a few miles to the east.

Royal Portrush hosted its sole Open in one thousand nine hundred fifty-first, but will return to the Open rotation in two thousand-nineteenth.

Best course nearby: Royal Portrush'south Valley course twists and tumbles through hills and swales between the Dunluce and the E Strand and provides an absorbing antidote. Further W Portstewart is another fine track.

Royal Portrush, Dunluce Road, Portrush, Co. Antrim, BT56 8JQ, Northern Ireland; +forty-four (0) two hundred eighty-seven thousand eighty-two three thousand three hundred thirty-five

Green fees: From £60-190 ($77-245)

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