The Burnside course at Carnoustie has been used in the past for qualifying when the Open has been held on the Championship course and no less than Ben Hogan entered the tournament this way for the 1953 Open before going on to lift the old claret jug later the same week.
The short holes are a real feature on the Burnside and the 158-yard 5th, named “Burn” and 228-yard 14th, called “Scoup” would not be out of place on any championship course. A strong finish is to be faced, with the long par four 17th – “Sinkies” – measuring all of 473 yards and as difficult a par four to be found anywhere. No respite either at the 307-yard, par four, 18th hole, called “Lismore” where the out of bounds fence has wrecked many a scorecard.
Its illustrious neighbour may overshadow it but the Burnside has its own character and charm and is a fine test of golf in its own right – the par of 68 and a Standard Scratch Score of 70 tells you the Burnside is no pushover.
The three courses at Carnoustie – Championship, Burnside and Buddon – are public links and several local clubs play on them, including Carnoustie Caledonia, Carnoustie Mercantile, Carnoustie New Taymouth, Dalhousie and Carnoustie Ladies – which is the oldest female golf club in the world, having been established in 1873.
There is another club, Carnoustie Golf Club, who also use the three links. It was formed in 1842 so it is one of the ten oldest clubs in the world. At the turn of the 19th century, many Carnoustie members traveled abroad to play and teach golf and some were founding members of the US and Australian PGAs – in recognition of this, Carnoustie have been permitted to use the crests of these two Associations in its signage at the entrance to the clubhouse.
Three former Carnoustie members, Alex, Willie and McDonald Smith, won many professional tournaments in America and Alex’s two US Open winners’ medals from 1906 and 1910 are on display in the clubhouse for all modern day golfers to see.
I suspect that many golfers will dismiss the other two courses at Carnoustie in favour of just playing the main attraction. That would be a mistake because both, especially the Burnside, offer some really good golf.
If it wasn’t for a particularly lacklustre run of holes between two and five on the Burnside I would place this course in a similar bracket to many other distinguished and notable links venues in Scotland.
The opening hole on this par 68 layout (5,972 yards) is a nice way to start the round with decisions to be made from the tee and a tricky green complex to contend with. However, the next four holes did very little for me and walking off the fifth green I felt particularly flat.
What follows over the next 12 holes though (the last is a nondescript finisher) is a remarkable transformation from what has gone before. We now enjoy a run of holes that is of such a high standard it’s impossible not to be impressed. The natural movement in the land is excellent, the bunkering is very good, the green complexes are in a different class and the use of angles is very clever. The holes are more visually appealing, they are strategically superior and simply require the golfer to hit better shots.
It’s a shame the opening holes on the Burnside don’t match the quality of the rest of the course but if you can forgive its slow start then you will love it.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Played this again whilst in town for the Craws Nest Tassie again.
SUCH A PITY THAT THE BURNSIDE HAS BEEN DROPPED FOR THE BUDDON !
So many of the holes mirror holes on the Championship and although it is a the smaller sister do NOT under-rate her or expect to be an awful lot easier if the wind blows !