Rank­ing the Rota

My favourite Open course is . . .

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Life - BY DAVID OWEN

ince the be­gin­ning of time (ie 1860), the Open has been played on just 14 cour­ses. I’ve played all of them at least once, and I’ve played most of them more than once, and in 2010 I played all 14 in a two-week trip. Here’s my rank­ing, in re­verse or­der:

SGolf holes all over the world mea­sure 4¼ inches (108mm) in di­am­e­ter be­cause in 1829 a black­smith in Mus­sel­burgh made a hole­cut­ting de­vice from a piece of drain pipe that hap­pened to be that size.The course, which has just nine holes, is in­ter­est­ing mainly be­cause of facts like that one. 14 Prince’s is the least im­pres­sive of the three Open cour­ses on Eng­land’s south­east­ern coast. (See Nos 7 and 10 for the other two.) The Open was played there once, in 1932 – Gene Sarazen won, us­ing the sand wedge he’d just in­vented – but that lay­out no longer ex­ists. 13 Prest­wick has hosted 24 Opens, in­clud­ing the rst 12.The course is fa­mously “quirky,” but I don’t love it. The pri­vate parts of the club­house are way cool, how­ever. Plead with a mem­ber to show you around. 12 The Dun­luce course at Royal Portrush. I don’t un­der­stand why Opens, in­clud­ing this year’s, are given to Troon.You play what seems like the same hole over and over again, then you play the Postage Stamp, then you play what feels like the same hole over and over again, again. 11 If I could pick any Open club to join, I might pick Royal Cinque Ports, in Deal, Eng­land – be­cause I love the course and be­cause the mem­bers re­mind me of the mem­bers of my club at home. In 1898, one of them played cross-coun­try from Royal St Ge­orge’s in 32 strokes. He hit his nal shot through a club­house win­dow. 10 For the Open, the R&A turns the first hole at Royal Liver­pool into the third, giv­ing play­ers two holes to warm up be­fore hit­ting one of the scari­est tee shots in tour­na­ment 9 golf. Plus, the Bea­tles.

Royal Lytham has way 8

too many bunkers, but its ninth hole is one of my favourite par 3s any­where, and the club o ers what might be the best overnight stay-and­play pack­age in the world.

Ian Flem­ing was a 7

mem­ber of Royal St Ge­orge’s. He made it the model for Royal St Marks, the club where James Bond wins a cheat­ing match with Auric Gold nger. On a clear day, you can see France. When the wind is blow­ing hard, Carnoustie might be too tough for or­di­nary hu­mans.The course has pro­vided some of the mem­o­rable Opens ever – Ho­gan, Player, Wat­son, Van de Velde – and it’s just over the bridge from St An­drews. 6 Ev­ery se­ri­ous golfer, at some point, has to play as many rounds as pos­si­ble on the Old Course at St An­drews. If you sus­pend your pre­con­cep­tions about what golf holes are sup­posed to look like, play­ing the Old Course can be a tran­scen­den­tal ex­pe­ri­ence. St An­drews makes the strong­est pos­si­ble ar­gu­ment for al­low­ing links cour­ses to cre­ate them­selves. 2 The vot­ing in my head was close, but in the end Royal Portrush, in North­ern Ire­land, came in at No 1. De­sign changes elim­i­nated its only se­ri­ous weak­nesses, the two clos­ing holes. And the sched­uled re­turn of the Open in 2019, af­ter a 68-year ab­sence, is a hope­ful sign ( ngers crossed) that peo­ple, given time, can learn to co­ex­ist. 1

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