The Buddon course opened for play as an 18-hole layout back in 1981 when Dave Thomas and Peter Alliss laid out the fairways on former Ministry of Defence land, next to the 2,300-acre Barry Buddon rifle range and training area.
All the holes are named after battles that have taken place during various war campaigns, in recognition of the near neighbours who have been in residence since the late 1890s. The course lies to the south and east of the property managed by the Carnoustie Golf Links Management Committee
The Buddon starts and finishes as a links layout, with several fairways in the middle of the round venturing into tree-lined territory. Mackenzie & Ebert completed a renovation in 2012, when the new clubhouse was being built, resulting in the loss of the opening hole as the par was increased from 66 to 68.
The old 9th and 10th holes were merged to create a new hole and two new holes were fashioned to form a new 11th and 12th in the southwest corner of the estate, bringing a new ecological benefit through the creation of wetlands, ponds and new areas of heathland.
I visited the Buddon back in August, on my way home to Glasgow, having played earlier in the day with a friend from the Czech Republic on the bizarrely renamed 1562 (former Medal) course at Montrose – it’s beyond me how this layout can be called “1562” (signifying the year that somebody in the town is recorded as having had a golf lesson, NOT the year the person played on an established course).
That sort of “rebranding” comes across to me as “marketing gone mad,” I’m afraid!
I think the Buddon is a seriously under rated track which really shouldn’t be dismissed as easily as appears to be the case in general. Truth be told, many of its fairways lie closer to the sea than those on both the Championship and Burnside, though not all of these holes could be described as true links in character.
That’s not a drawback as far as I’m concerned. In fact, I think the playing experience is enhanced by the change of scenery starting at the 6th, when fairways become tree-lined as they move further inland, only to reappear as “proper” links holes at the par five 16th. It reminded me a wee bit of what happens at another favourite course of mine, Golspie, where holes are laid out on different landforms as they weave around the coastal property.
Mind you, the routing is a bit of a let-down early on, with four holes following the same direction, one after another from the 2nd to the 5th, as they run alongside a couple of holes on the Championship course, separated by fencing on either side of a long, straight track. Then, without warning, you make a right turn to find yourself transported in among the trees in the southwest corner of the site.
There’s no change in the quality of the turf underfoot, and the green sites are just as soundly constructed with nicely contoured putting surfaces and revetted greenside bunkers, but the whole atmosphere changes when playing through these tree-lined corridors, even though they’re wide enough to allow for a little lateral waywardness off the tee.
Interestingly, all the hole names have a military connection (in tribute to the adjacent MOD Barry Buddon Training Area which dates back to the mid-19th century with the Forfarshire Rifle Volunteers) so you’ll come across the likes of “Ypres” at the 4th, “Somme” at the 10th and “Tobruk” at the 17th. You’ll also hear guns going off on the peninsula next door if the firing range is in operation.
I’m not that big a fan of the Burnside course at Carnoustie and I know I’m giving the Buddon the same 3.5 ball review mark as I awarded its older sibling but I’d sooner play here again if I was asked to choose between the two.
A strange hybrid course extending the links with trees that the other two Carnoustie 18's are. MUCH prefer Champ and Burnside and feel this has been created to increase volume....and revenue.
First is a bit struck on to make up the numbers..... but can be a brutal start with wind off the sea.
Second is a par 3 that the wind dictates what sort of hole it is. Next three play alongside Champ...short par 4, par 3, short par 4.... a good start is advisable as hereafter the course changes.
Turning right, alongside the Champ 8th suddenly this "links" becomes a forest course, a narrow line no par 4, then a decent par 3, then a par 5 past a lake.... hang on isn't this a links course ??? And it isn't the only lake ! All I can reference it to is Links at Casa de Campo in Dominican Republic... that has lakes as well.
Were this course NOT part of an Open rota venue I think I would appreciate that it more for its wide variety of holes, challenges and mix of links, heath and parkland round lakes.
To me it is NOT what Carnoustie is about but if it gets the line caps a game when the other two are packed with tourists I get it !?
The Buddon is a course of two halves, starting and ending as pure links and running nicely alongside Hogan's Alley and the Championship course's 7th. This is the Buddon's 5th hole, but sadly after this you are out into the trees and ponds until the 16th.
Like the Burnside, the short yardage does not make for a pushover. I don't think there is an easy hole among Carnoustie's 54. The usual wind make the course's parkland half especially treacherous. These aren't bad holes and the ground is fairly firm, but it’s not quite what you want during a Scottish trip. I had this included with my Championship booking which was fine, but pick the Burnside if you can only choose one extra 18.
What the Buddon does have however, are a couple of seaside holes and the 18th tee has the best view on site - an elevated tee looking over the courses, clubhouse and town, with this long par 4 dropping to a beach-side green.
Overall I don't consider this a fun layout, but it is a test and varied mix, plus being Carnoustie it’s obviously well kept. I'd recommend it if you can get a deal, otherwise you can find better golf not far along the coast in either direction.
Yes just done my review, and missed out the 18th....that is a good hole with, as you say, the best links view in town