Ultimate Dunhill Links Fantasy Golf Course
The Alfred Dunhill Links is played across a formidable trio of layouts; the Old Course at St Andrews, the Championship Course at Carnoustie, and Kingsbarns Golf Links. This annual sojourn to the east coast of Scotland in the Autumn has become a perennial feature on the European Tour calendar, drawing a consistently strong field of professionals aligned with many noteworthy celebrity amateurs in the team section of the tournament.
What attracts them most of all are these venues. The Old Course is the spiritual Home of Golf, boasting an unsurpassed history and charm, set amongst the atmospheric surrounds of the ancient town of St Andrews, which is worth the entry fee alone. Carnoustie is a revered and brilliantly imagined layout – the site of the 2018 Open Championship – and perhaps the finest test of seaside golf in Scotland. Kingsbarns is a somewhat different breed, a modern course that takes full advantage of its East Neuk coastline, featuring spectacular views across the North Sea.
Golfshake’s Kieran Clark has drawn from the three courses – picking six holes from each – to create the Ultimate Dunhill Links Course. See what you think and consider which additions or changes you would make to this selected layout.
1st – Old Course, 1st Hole, Par 4
“For someone who relishes the experience side of playing a golf course, there is no more exciting or grander tee shot than the opening hole at St Andrews. Having the weight of history and seemingly the eyes of the golf world on you, this 140-yard wide fairway instantly feels much narrower. It should be a gentle start, as you walk away from the town, but the presence of the Swilcan Burn – and those ghosts of the past – keep you focussed.”
2nd – Carnoustie, 13th, Par 3
“Introducing the first short hole of this fantasy course early, the 13th at Carnoustie is a par three that is closely guarded by several bunkers, while the green features enough undulations and breaks to keep a player guessing. Additionally, the view back towards the hotel provides a rare moment of visual definition and gives you a sense that you’re in a special place.”
3rd – Kingsbarns, 16th, Par 5
“This is a fantastic par five with striking bunkering on the fairway, placing a premium on strategy. But with three good shots – or two for the longer hitters – there is a birdie to be made here, setting you up for the challenging hole that is coming next.
4th - Old Course, 13th, Par 4
“Treacherous par four that consistently ranks among the most difficult on the famous links, the Coffin bunkers need to be avoided off the tee, with shots on the fairway opening up the often-blinded approach to the huge green that doubles up with the fifth. Walking off with a par is always a good score.”
5th – Carnoustie, 9th, Par 4
“Tucked away in the corner at Carnoustie, the ninth is a hole that feels somewhat distinct in character from much of the rest, with the line of trees on one side of the fairway creating a sense of heathland. It’s a tranquil spot, and a testing proposition that adds a different flavour to the layout.”
6th – Kingsbarns, 15th, Par 3
“This is a visually spectacular par three played towards a green that cuts out into the water. Depending on where the pin has been positioned, an aggressive tee shot could see you hitting across the rocks and bay, a challenge made further problematic when the wind is up. Memorable.”
7th – Old Course, 14th, Par 5
“Intriguing par five that boasts a view back towards the town of St Andrews. Out-of-bounds and the cavernous Beardies need to be avoided off the tee, while second shots towards the green are required to carry over the legendary Hell Bunker. The challenge doesn’t end there, however, as the green is typically awkward, making any birdie hard-earned on this superb long hole.
8th – Kingsbarns, 6th, Par 4
“This is a quintessential short par four that lays out options to the golfer, who can either be aggressive or more conservative off the tee. Taking on the green or playing back to the shared fairway, leaving a short approach. This is a little respite before the next fearsome selected hole.
9th – Carnoustie, 18th, Par 4
“The 18th at Carnoustie is an ominous hole that has witnessed many a disaster in its distinguished championship history. The Barry Burn has to be avoided from the tee and with the approach, as the hazard cuts back in front of the green. Out-of-bounds is perilously close to the surface on the left-hand side and missing the fairway with your first shot will generally result in a lay-up. You certainly won’t forget this one, although nightmares are possible.”
10th – Kingsbarns, 8th, Par 3
“Following the terrors of the 18th at Carnoustie, you have been transported back to Kingsbarns to face the comparatively straightforward par three eighth. A “wee dunt” is the prerequisite to find this green, although it better be an accurate one.”
11th – Carnoustie, 6th, Par 5
“Hogan’s Alley is one of the most iconic holes at Carnoustie, and for good reason. The ideal tee shot is required to find a narrow gap between out-of-bounds and deep bunkers. The challenge doesn’t end there, however, as a small ditch runs up the right-side towards the green, placing a premium on hitting the ball straight throughout. Wayward shots will be punished on this par five.”
12th – Kingsbarns, 17th, Par 4
“This is a testing and imaginative par four. Tee shots need to be played to the left-side of the fairway for a clear view uphill to a deep three-tiered green that can make getting the ball close testing. Visually striking hole that is one of the best on this modern layout.”
13th – Carnoustie, 15th, Par 4
“There are many difficult par fours at Carnoustie, but this might somehow be the hardest. Accurate tee shot is needed to find the fairway, where a long approach into the prevailing wind is necessary into a wall of bunkers protecting the green. Take a par and run!”
14th – Old Course, 11th, Par 3
“One of the great par threes in Scotland (though it can feel like a par five) played towards the Eden Estuary on the most exposed part of the Old Course. Strath and Hill Bunkers are deadly, while the green slopes dramatically from back-to-front, meaning anything long results in an impossible recovery. You need to hit your best mid-to-long iron here, as the breeze can blow directly into your face.”
15th – Carnoustie 17th, Par 4
“Part of Carnoustie’s rollercoaster finish, the fairway is surrounded by the snaking Barry Burn, placing a premium on the accuracy and strategy of the tee shot. The approach isn’t easy either on a hole where much is dependent on the wind direction.”
16th – Kingsbarns, 12th, Par 5
“Likely the most photographed hole at Kingsbarns, this brilliant par five hugs the coastline and encapsulates the best qualities of the golf course. Spectacular views, wonderful setting, and a well-designed challenge. This is an ideal late-round par five.”
17th – Old Course, 17th, Par 4
“The most famous hole in golf remains perhaps the most exciting in the world. Risk-and-reward was invented here as taking on the blind tee shot over the shed is the ideal line, with the further right you are opening up the angled and narrow green. The Road Bunker and tarmac road beyond the green are potentially devasting hazards, but smart play and good execution can see you escape with a respectable number as you head back into the town.
18th – Old Course, 18th, Par 4
“It may not be the most testing of holes, but there is no finer stroll than the 18th at the Old Course. Hitting over the burn towards the R&A Clubhouse and skyline of St Andrews, crossing over the Swilcan Bridge, and walking in the footsteps of legends. There is nothing quite like it. But this isn’t a given birdie or par. The Valley of Sin can ensnare weak approaches, but the dramatic tilt of the green ensures that there isn’t a straight putt. What a finish.”
Well, there you have it. That was our Fantasy Dunhill Links Course. Featuring six holes each from St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, four par fives, four par threes, and ten par fours, it’s an even par of 72 and would be the layout of our dreams.
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