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.
All the par fours ask varying questions of the golfer and the 497-yard 15th is excellent, however, it is the one-shotters at nine and 14 that steal the show. The first of these plays 163-yards to a significantly raised green that is trapped on both sides and has steep run-offs which are shaved bare. The second is a thing of pure beauty and plays 228-yards to a green angled in the dunes that asks you to either carry gorse and sandhills towards the front left or shape your ball in from the right and up the line of the green; either option must contend with a steep slope at the front-right that will sweep anything not executed perfectly down and away.
There is also one final sting in the tail and this comes at the imperious 17th. There are similarities to the closing two holes on the championship course as the Barry Burn comes into play on both drive and second shot. Judging the tee-shot is paramount to being able to strike for the green in two at this hopscotch 461-yard par four which will strike terror into anyone on a good score.
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 it a slow start then you will love it.
Read the review of Carnoustie (Championship) here.
Read the review of Carnoustie (Buddon) here.