The Best Courses to Never Host a Major Championship
This article first appeared on Golfshake.com in Sep 2016.
The majors are the events on the golfing calendar that every amateur and professional golfer looks forward to. The world’s best players battle it out on some of the most immaculately presented golf courses in the world and it makes for a great viewing experience for all golf fans.
However, there are several courses, some of which you may have even played, that deserve their time in the limelight and should be offered the opportunity to host a men’s major championship. Here are nine courses we think should host a major in the future.
9. Kingsbarns Golf Links, Scotland
One of the more modern courses in Scotland, Kingsbarns Golf Links offers a great challenge of links golf and it is suited perfectly to the Open Championship. Running along 1.8 miles of picturesque North Sea coastline, each hole embraces the sea and when the wind blows, this course really bares its teeth.
This course also co-hosts the European Tour’s annual Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and to add, the Ricoh Women’s British Open was also contested at Kingsbarns. All this shows that the course has the resources to host a memorable event and would suit the Open Championship perfectly.
8. Spyglass Hill, USA
Spyglass Hill is regarded as one of the toughest courses in America and possibly the world from the Championship tees and boasts a course rating of 75.5. In fact, during the 1999 United States Amateur, the stroke average of the field exceeded 79.
The first five holes at this course roll through sandy seaside dunes and rewards safe play, whereas the following 13 holes are cut through huge pines. The elevated greens prove a test to hit and the strategically-placed bunkers and lakes catch any errant shot. For these reasons, it is incredible that the course hasn’t ever hosted the US Open or the PGA Championship.
7. Royal Porthcawl, Wales
Royal Porthcawl could well become the first golf club in Wales to host the Open Championship and for many good reasons. The number one course in the country has a magnificent setting – sloping down the seashore – and with the absence of sand hills that usually make up links courses, the sea is visible from every hole on the course.
The venue hosted the 2014 Senior Open Championship and proved its worth when hosting a big tournament. In fact, the tournament was that big a success that Royal Porthcawl will host the event again in 2017. On top of this, the course has also hosted the Amateur Championship, the Walker Cup, the Curtis Cup, the European Team Championship, the Home Internationals and the Ladies British Open Amateur Championship among others.
6. Cruden Bay Golf Club, Scotland
Cruden Bay Golf Club is another contender in our list of great courses to never host a major championship. This traditional Scottish links golf course was designed by Tom Morris and Archie Simpson and offers magnificent panoramic views and subtly contoured greens.
Like many top links courses fit to host the Open Championship, Cruden Bay creates unique challenges demanding the skills of power, placement and fine judgement in order to score well around this course. The Open Championship is all about history and this is exactly what you get here. It is claimed that golf was played in the village of Cruden Bay as early as 1791, although Cruden Bay Golf Club didn’t officially open till 1899. Just 23 miles north of Aberdeen, this course is filled with history fit for an Open Championship.
5. Pine Valley, USA
It is a shame that this golf course will never host a major, as it is consistently voted as the best golf course in the world. Due to its location in the middle of a dense forest, it would not allow any more than 5,000 spectators, never mind 40,000. The course is also ultra-private and the thought of the USGA or PGA taking over would not go down well with the members.
The course is a par 70 but it took three years from its opening in 1919 for anyone to shoot to par and it quickly became renowned as the ultimate test of golf. It is a shame a course of such quality’s only real exposure was during an early 1960’s Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf match.
4. Royal Dornoch, Scotland
Recently ranked the 5th best Championship Course in the world by Golf Digest, Royal Dornoch is another outstanding links to yet host an Open Championship. The course is isolated and wild when the wind blows, but at the same time it is one of the most beautiful places in the world to play golf – especially in early summer when the gorse is in flower.
With a second 18-hole course, it offers plenty of room for spectators and things such as the spectator village and media village. Old Tom Morris introduced the plateau greens that are the soul of the course and their uniqueness lies in their size and inverted saucer shapes. This is truly brilliant course, worthy of hosting an Open.
3. Royal Aberdeen, Scotland
As mentioned earlier, history is one of the key factors when it comes to an Open Championship and this club certainly has it, as it was founded in 1780 as the Society of Golfers at Aberdeen and became the Aberdeen Golf Club in 1815. It wasn’t until 1903 that the course was awarded “Royal” designation by Edward VII.
The Balgownie course is one of the truest links layouts in the world of golf and offers just about every condition you can imagine from links golf. The front nine on this course is among the very best in the world as no two holes are the same. Like many links courses, there are several unique holes that the pros are not used to like the par 3, 8th hole. Despite being under 150-yards, the hole is surrounded by ten pot bunkers and can often be a card wrecker.
2. Harbour Town Golf Links, USA
Harbour Town Golf Links is already the home of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage tournament and the iconic Pete Dye design is widely regarded as the epitome of “strategic golf.” Its red and white-striped lighthouse stands sentinel behind the 18th green and would provide a perfect logo for the event.
Most courses on the PGA Tour require you to hit the ball a long way with the driver, but Harbour Town Golf Links places a premium on finesse, imagination and shot making. The final hole is regarded as one of the most feared in all of golf, especially when the wind is blowing off Calibogue Sound and would make for the perfect closing hurdle at a major if someone only holds a one shot lead.
1. Royal County Down, Northern Ireland
Having hosted the Irish Open, Royal County Down has proved that is capable of hosting large events and with such a challenging course, spectators would be in for a great spectacle.
The course is located in what is arguably one of the world’s most naturally beautiful links settings in the Murlough Nature Reserve. The course stretches along the shores of Dundrum Bay and zigzags back and forth to provide a different vista from every hole, with the magnificent backdrop of the Mountains of Mourne.
The fairways are narrow and thread their way through an impressive set of sand dunes, with purple heather and golden gorse waiting for any ball that may stray from the prescribed path. In our eyes, this is the perfect venue for an Open Championship.
However, what if we were to suggest that the majors don’t necessarily have to take place in their traditional locations? This would open up the opportunity for some exquisite golf courses around the world, that otherwise would not have the chance to host such prestigious events.