Notable Neighbors of Open Championship Courses

You’re planning a big golf trip to Great Britain and you want to play the famed courses of the Open Championship rotation—Carnoustie, Muirfield, St. Andrews Old, Troon, and Turnberry in Scotland; Birkdale, Lytham, and St. George’s in England. Do yourself a favor and don’t get too fixated on these.

Why? First, they’re expensive (averaging close to $300 a round). Second, they can be difficult to book at the times you want, especially during the summer. Third—and most important—in the case of each one you’ll find a nearby course that, while not quite as famous, is a strong and compelling test of links golf with a pedigree of its own. So book a few of the big boys if you must, but don’t pass up the noteworthy neighbors of Open Championship courses listed below.


Neighbors of Open Championship Courses

Near Carnoustie? play Panmure
What: 6,551 yards, par 70
Why: Ben Hogan practiced here in 1953 when he won the Open at Carnoustie in his only trip, completing the Triple Crown. It’s full of interesting holes, always in top condition, and you’ll get a warm welcome in the clubhouse.
How Near: 10 minutes
How Much: $125 vs. $245 for Carnoustie

Near Muirfield? play Gullane No. 1
What: 6,583 yards, par 71
Why: Unfurling across a massive hillside, it offers spectacular views of the Firth of Forth (Muirfield has almost none) and constant elevation changes that make for a constant challenge. Last year, along with Gullane No. 2, it hosted the Scottish Open won by Rickie Fowler.
How Near: 10 minutes
How Much: $160 vs. $325 for Muirfield

Near the Old Course at St. Andrews? play the New Course
What: 6,625 yards, par 71
Why: Designed by Old Tom Morris in 1895, it is, in the opinion of many—including most St. Andrews locals—the best course in town. It’s set on the same stretch of linksland as the Old, but lacks the double greens and quirkiness and thus is a more straightforward test of golf.
How Near: 5 minutes
How Much: $105 vs. $260 for the Old Course

Near Royal Troon? play Western Gailes
What: 6,640 yards, par 71
Why: Set on a sliver of linksland between the Firth of Clyde and a railway, this is a classic test, its fairways romping through the dunes to cleverly sited greens. With numerous pot bunkers, a meandering burn, and the train tracks on the right in the home stretch, bring your best game—and hope the wind doesn’t kick up. 
How Near: 15 minutes
How Much: $220 vs. $325 for Royal Troon

Notable Neighbors

Near Turnberry Ailsa? play Turnberry Kintyre
What: TBA (currently under construction)
Why: If you book for 2017, you’ll play essentially a brand new course, completely revamped by architect Martin Ebert at the behest of the Trump Organization. And you’ll enjoy those fabulous Turnberry views for about half the price. 
How Near: 5 minutes
How Much: TBA, but figure about $150 less than the current Ailsa fees ($310 for hotel guests, $370 for visitors)


Near Royal Birkdale? play Hillside
What: 6,849 yards, par 72
Why: The perennial final qualifying site for the Open Championship, it’s arguably as good and tough a course as Birkdale, with an inward nine that Greg Norman has called the best in Britain.
How Near: 5 minutes
How Much: $190 vs. $325 for Royal Birkdale

Near Royal Lytham? play St. Annes Old Links
What: 6,941, par 72
Why: It was one of the favorite courses of Bobby Jones, who said “it’s difficult to see how you could improve on this. The dune-enclosed par-three ninth is so narrow, you and your friends may have to walk it single file.” 
How Near: 5 minutes
How Much:  $110 vs. $265 for Royal Lytham

Near Royal St. George’s? play Princes
What: 6,880 yards, par 72
Why: One of English golf’s best-kept secrets, it’s where Gene Sarazen won the 1932 Open Championship. With three nines, the Dunes and Shore comprise the championship course.
How Near: 5 minutes
How Much: $87 vs. $265 for Royal St. George’s