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Playing Carnoustie and Links Golf in Scotland

It’s all about golf, surviving the weather, pints, whiskey, deciphering the brogue, making sure you stay on the left side of the road and enjoying the people when you’re in Scotland. Except for the whiskey I did fairly well at the rest. After flying into Glasgow Monday morning it was a two hour drive across central Scotland arriving in Carnoustie mid afternoon in time to catch my boss, Bob Gilder finishing up his practice round with a local caddie, perfect timing.

You can’t learn a links course walking it, you have to watch someone play a round or spend some time with a member or local caddie. There are so many nuances, awkward tee shots, humps and bumps in the fairway and around the greens, local knowledge is the best information. I did my best working the angles off the tee, checking the pot bunkers short of the green, figuring out where we could land the ball and be safe. Talking with the locals in the pubs I learned more about the course than walking it Monday afternoon.

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Carnoustie, according to every pro I talked with, is the toughest challenge of The Open venues. Hogan won his first and only British here in 1953 and spent a week learning the course before he teed it up. Watson won his first of five British Opens in 1975 at Carnoustie (sometimes nicknamed Carnasty) and hated playing over here early in his career. The fans warmed to him and he fell in love with links golf, after all his rounds you could find him signing autographs an hour later.

You never get comfortable here, not with the food, especially a breakfast of beans, soft sausage, blood pudding, baked tomatoes and no potatoes, but mainly with the golf. You can’t play an aggressive shot at Carnoustie spending every moment avoiding a pot bunker, gorse, a “wee burn”, or the wind pounding you from all directions during a round. The only course I’ve ever caddied where you honestly don’t think about making birdie on any tee box.

Break 80 in a heartbeatClick Here!No matter what your handicap

On a links course it doesn’t matter what club you hit it’s all about the shape of the shot and the initial bounce you get when the ball lands. Carnoustie allows any golfer a variety of opportunities but one bad bounce leads to disaster. Every bunker is penal, you can’t advance the ball more than a sand wedge, plus the gorse wraps around your clubface sending the ball in any direction. A quad lurks on almost every hole.

Even though we made the cut it wasn’t a lot of fun.
Break 80 in a heartbeatClick Here!No matter what your handicap

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