The Buddon Links is not without merit and boasts an impressive collection of one-shotters. The par 68 course (5,921 yards) has a gentle, yet lovely, opening stretch before it enters the trees for a few holes at the narrow sixth. The holes amongst the woodland lose their links feel but are very good regardless.
After playing two new holes at 11 and 12 we return to the original course and play what is a fine final third. The gradually rising par-five 16th wouldn’t be out of place on either of the other two courses at Carnoustie whilst the short 17th is a real gem and the green complex at the final hole, where two deep bunkers pinch the centre of the narrow green, is a pleasing way to complete the round.
At Carnoustie, if the Championship course can be labeled great, and I think it can, and the Burnside classed as very good then the Buddon is probably about mediocre. However, my round on their third course will not be remembered for the golf rather the company it was played in.
Whilst I don’t particularly like it I’ve absolutely no problem with Carnoustie pairing up two-balls into a four on the championship course – we were joined by a very nice father and son enjoying a family holiday - but I was a little surprised to discover that we were joining another couple for our round on the quieter Buddon. On arrival at the clubhouse the pro-shop politely informed us that we would be joined by a husband and wife from France. Not ideal but no big deal in the grand scheme of things.
Now, generally speaking I’m a big fan of the French, particularly their wine, but on this occasion things didn’t quite go to plan. The hire clubs should have provided us with a clue and, as lovely as this couple were, in all truth they shouldn’t have been anywhere near a golf course, especially one described by Carnoustie themselves as “very testing”.
Anyway, clearly intimidated, after we'd striped a couple of drives down the middle and following a 45 second pre-shot routine on the first tee, the gentleman clean topped his tee shot into the burn directly in front of the tee. Let’s face it we all suffer from first tee nerves though so no cause for concern. However, the two provisional balls were never to be seen again either and if he scored less than 20 on the opening hole I’d be very surprised. The lady on the other hand did clear the burn, was able to gradually advance the ball up onto the green and seven putts later it was crystal clear that she was the golfer of the two. Sacré bleu.
More of the same followed over the front nine, some shots lost à la droite and other shots lost à la gauche, until monsieur had completely run out of balls and had to start borrowing from madame.
The pièce de résistance of the round actually arrived on the tenth when after a rare good drive he fresh-aired twice before shanking into the lake with his third attempt. We’re all familiar with a French golfing disaster at Carnoustie but Van de Velde had nothing on this guy.
I’m not sure if it was coincidence but on the very next hole a couple of swans, who had watched us play the previous hole, rapidly moved from the centre of the lake into the middle of the fairway as we teed-off.
By this time the fourball in front of us had quickly disappeared into the distance whilst the group behind stood on each tee with hands on hips. 4 ½ hours later we finally said au revoir and wished them a bon voyage for the rest of their trip.
All of the above is 100% true and in the end it all became quite amusing for us but neither pair will have enjoyed the round as much as they should have. We are far from professional golfers but I think they were a little bit nervous playing with two relatively competent players and we were simply after a brisk morning knock. Maybe this is an isolated case and I appreciate they will want to maximise the number of tee slots they can sell but the point of the story is that maybe Carnoustie should look at their policy of pairing up golfers on the Buddon and Burnside courses or at least review the criteria under which they do so.
Read the review of Carnoustie (Championship) here.
Read the review of Carnoustie (Burnside) here.