From St. Andrews on down: Ranking every single Open venue

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SANDWICH, England — Jack Nicklaus by no means received to play an Open at Royal St. George’s throughout his prime. That, maybe, is likely one of the causes a quote attributed to him — he’s coy about whether or not he really actually stated it — make some sense. And why when an Open comes round on the southeastern England venue, because it does this week, the quote resurfaces.

“The Open venues worsen the farther south you go,” Nicklaus as soon as allegedly stated.

This remark or varied iterations have been linked to Nicklaus, though pinning down its origin is problematic. Nicklaus through the years has denied saying it, laughed when it’s introduced up, admits he might need stated it, then goes right into a extra diplomatic response.

“I favored the Scottish venues higher than the English venues,” stated Nicklaus, who gained all three of his Opens — Muirfield and twice at St. Andrews — in Scotland. “I believe the kind of golf in Scotland is slightly completely different than the kind of golf in England, and the farther south you went the extra you noticed type of a hummocks and bee hills and stuff that was completely different.”

Nicklaus is just not essentially alone. Royal St. George’s, which hosts this week after The Open was canceled a 12 months in the past due to COVID-19, doesn’t at all times get the best critiques.

Sandy Lyle, who gained at Royal St. George’s in 1985, referred to as it “a beast.” Nonetheless, it’ll host the championship for the fifteenth time this week, making it the fourth-most used venue within the rotation.

Three years in the past, in 2018, we supplied up our first rating of Open venues. Since then, Royal Portrush in Northern Eire made a grand return to the rotation. In 2019, it hosted the occasion to rave critiques; it had hosted simply as soon as earlier than — in 1951.

So right here is our newest crack on the listing. The primary 10 are these which are nonetheless a part of the rotation and the final 4 — sure, there have been simply 14 whole venues in Open historical past relationship to 1860 — observe.

1. St. Andrews (The Outdated Course)

St. Andrews, Scotland
Hosted 29 Opens; first in 1873, the final: 2015. Subsequent scheduled: 2022.

This tops the listing for apparent causes. St. Andrews is taken into account the house of golf, the Outdated Course its jewel. Not everybody likes the format, however its uniqueness makes it particular and it has remained nearly the identical since Outdated Tom Morris took care of the place within the nineteenth century. Subsequent 12 months, the a hundred and fiftieth taking part in of The Open will happen at St. Andrews. The course has produced a number of the greatest winners of their respective generations. Tiger Woods gained there twice. So did Jack Nicklaus. Seve Ballesteros gained at St. Andrews. And but, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson didn’t.

St. Andrews tidbit: The R&A Clubhouse, which sits behind the primary tee and 18th inexperienced, was inbuilt 1854 and have become residence to golf’s governing physique (outdoors of the U.S.) in 1897.

2. Muirfield

Gullane, Scotland
Hosted 16 Opens; the primary in 1892, the final in 2013. Subsequent: but to be scheduled.

Recognized extra formally because the Honourable Firm of Edinburgh Golfers, Muirfield is likely one of the oldest golf equipment on the earth and sometimes cited because the fairest of the Open venues. The course was opened in 1891 and have become a frequent web site of The Open, changing close by Musselburgh, which was a nine-hole format. The listing of winners at Muirfield can be spectacular: Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen, Gary Participant, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson all gained right here.

Muirfield tidbit: Muirfield was briefly taken out of the operating for future Opens as a result of it didn’t have any ladies members. The course voted to alter that in 2017. Nonetheless, it has but to be awarded one other Open since Mickelson’s win in 2013.

3. Royal Birkdale

Southport, England
Hosted 10 Opens; the primary in 1954, the final in 2017. Subsequent: not but scheduled.

Jordan Spieth captured his third main title in gorgeous vogue when he gained The Open at Birkdale in 2017 with a wild again 9 that noticed him give floor to Matt Kuchar after which overtake him for the victory. That was the 12 months Spieth recovered from the driving vary after a wayward drive on the thirteenth. In the identical 12 months, Branden Grace shot a third-round 62, the bottom spherical ever in a serious championship. Situated alongside northwest England’s best stretch of hyperlinks golf, Royal Birkdale is a relative newcomer to the Open rota and is now among the many hottest locales. It did not host its first Open till 1954, when Peter Thomson gained the primary of three straight.

Birkdale tidbit: The course was the positioning of the well-known concession by Jack Nicklaus to Tony Jacklin on the ultimate inexperienced of the 1969 Ryder Cup, which led to a 16-16 tie.

4. Royal Portrush

Portrush, Northern Eire
Hosted two Opens; the primary in 1951, the final in 2019. Subsequent: not but scheduled.

Solely two Opens have been performed outdoors of Nice Britain. The newest was so profitable the venue will probably be rewarded with a minimum of yet another, maybe comparatively quickly. Logistical issues have been the primary cause for such an absence, actually not the golf course, which is understood for its gorgeous magnificence and immense issue when the wind howls. The city of Portrush can be residence to Open champion Darren Clarke. Fellow main winners Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell additionally hail from Northern Eire. And it actually helped that an Irishman, Shane Lowry, gained the championship in 2019.

Portrush tidbit: There’s a good likelihood the R&A returns to Royal Portrush for the 2025 Open, the following out there open date.

5. Carnoustie Golf Membership

Carnoustie, Scotland
Hosted eight Opens; the primary in 1931, the final in 2018. Subsequent: not but scheduled.

The course has earned a repute for being one of many hardest hyperlinks layouts on the earth. It’s the place Ben Hogan gained his one and solely Open in 1953, the place Tom Watson gained his first of 5 in 1975, the place Jean Van de Velde turned notorious in 1999, the place Padraig Harrington in 2007 prevented the identical destiny by defeating Sergio Garcia in a memorable playoff, and the place in 2018 Tiger Woods made a spirited run on the Claret Jug earlier than Italy’s Francesco Molinari prevailed.

Carnoustie tidbit: When Hogan gained the title in 1953, 36 holes have been performed on the ultimate day. He birdied the par-5 sixth twice on the way in which to a 4-shot victory and the opening is called “Hogan’s Alley.”

6. Royal Troon

Troon, Scotland
Hosted 9 Opens; the primary in 1923, the final in 2016. Subsequent: scheduled for 2024.

Troon is a next-door neighbor to Prestwick, which hosted the primary Open in 1860. The 2 golf equipment have an annual match during which they begin at one course and play by onto the holes of the opposite and again once more. Troon has an out-and-back configuration much like the Outdated Course and was higher geared up to deal with the calls for of an enormous match, therefore it changed Prestwick within the rotation. The well-known “postage stamp” eighth gap is the place Gene Sarazen made an ace at age 71 in 1973.

Troon tidbit: Each Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson shot then record-tying 63s in 2016 at Troon. Mickelson’s got here within the first spherical and Stenson’s capped his final-round victory.

7. Royal Liverpool

Hoylake, England
Hosted 12 Opens; the primary in 1897, the final in 2014. Subsequent: scheduled for 2023.

The primary membership in northwest England to host an Open, Hoylake, as it’s referred to as, is the second-oldest seaside hyperlinks in England and residential to some good historical past. It was the venue for the primary (British) Newbie Championship in 1895. Two of the three amateurs who gained The Open, Harold Hilton and John Ball, have been Hoylake members. It is usually the place one other novice, Bobby Jones, gained the second leg of the Grand Slam in 1930. Hoylake went 39 years between Opens earlier than Tiger Woods gained in The Open’s return to the venue in 2006. Rory McIlroy added his lone Open title in 2014.

Liverpool tidbit: With the course baked out by scorching, dry circumstances in 2006, Woods famously hit only one driver all week — it was in the course of the first spherical — and strategically performed the course by hitting irons off the tees to keep away from bunkers. He completed at 18 underneath and gained by 2 strokes.

8. Royal St. George’s

Sandwich, England
Hosted 14 Opens; the primary in 1894, the final in 2011. Subsequent: this week.

The primary course in England to host the championship, St. George’s has additionally been the positioning of extra Opens than every other membership south of the Scottish border. It has hosted the fourth-most instances of any venue. It’s within the tiny city of Sandwich, which has lower than 5,000 individuals. Walter Hagen gained two of his 4 Opens at Royal St. George’s, which went 32 years between internet hosting from 1949 till 1981. Situated close to the Kent coast, on a transparent day you may see France from the encompassing space.

St. George’s tidbit: Writer Ian Fleming used Royal St. George’s in his 1959 novel “Goldfinger” however referred to as it “Royal St. Mark’s.”

9. Turnberry (Ailsa Course)

Turnberry, Scotland
Hosted 4 Opens; the primary in 1977, the final in 2009. Subsequent: not but scheduled.

That is probably the most picturesque of Open venues. The R&A, although, introduced earlier this 12 months that it has no plans to deliver the match again “within the foreseeable future” resulting from former U.S. president Donald Trump’s possession. Turnberry has hosted the championship simply 4 instances. Its distant location can be a monetary hardship for the R&A. The final to hitch the rotation in 1977, Turnberry has but to disappoint, with Tom Watson’s “Duel within the Solar” with Jack Nicklaus that first 12 months, adopted by Greg Norman’s first main title in 1986, a memorable end for Nick Worth in 1994 and Watson’s outstanding run at turning into the oldest main champion at age 59 that ended with a playoff defeat to Stewart Cink.

Turnberry tidbit: Paired with Nicklaus for all 4 rounds in 1977, Watson shot 66-65 on the weekend to edge Nicklaus’ 66-66. No person else was nearer than 10 strokes.

10. Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s

Lytham St. Anne’s, England
Hosted 11 Opens; the primary in 1926, the final in 2012. Subsequent: not but scheduled.

It begins with a par-3 and isn’t overly lengthy at 7,100 yards, however with some 200 bunkers, Lytham will be very exacting, particularly when the wind blows. Bobby Jones gained the primary Open at Lytham in 1926. It took till 1996 for an additional American, Tom Lehman, to win on the course on England’s northwest coast. It is usually the place England’s Tony Jacklin turned the occasion’s first homegrown winner in 1969. Very similar to Turnberry, Lytham has fallen out of favor with the R&A, due not a lot to the course however to its footprint and the struggles to host such a big enterprise. It has not been talked about in any future Open plans.

Lytham tidbit: When Lytham hosted The Open in 2012, it was the primary time in Open historical past that the championship was performed in England in consecutive years, having been performed at Royal St. George’s in 2011.

Different venues not in use

Prestwick Golf Membership

Prestwick, Scotland
Hosted 24 Opens; the primary in 1860, the final in 1925.

The unique residence to the Open Championship, Prestwick nonetheless charges due to its spectacular historical past, though it’s not suited to host the championship. The primary 12 Opens have been performed at Prestwick, and 15 of its 24 have been performed on a 12-hole format that was not revamped till the late Eighteen Eighties. As we speak solely 4 of the unique holes stay, however the quirky format is crammed with historical past.

Prestwick tidbit: In 1870, Tom Morris Jr. gained for the third straight time and began the match with a 3 on what was then a 578-yard opening gap that performed as a par-6.

Royal Cinque Ports

Deal, England
Hosted two Opens; the primary in 1909, the final in 1920.

Situated a number of miles from Royal St. George’s, Deal, as it’s generally referred to as, would have hosted the championship much more usually have been it not for world circumstances. It misplaced out resulting from wars in 1915 and once more in 1938. The 1949 Open scheduled for Cinque Ports was moved to Royal St. George’s resulting from flooding. An fascinating second in golf historical past occurred at Deal in 1920, when Walter Hagen defied orders to alter within the professional store — as required of all professionals on the time. Execs have been barred from the clubhouse, however Hagen had his limo driver park on the flagpole, the place he would change his sneakers every day. Hagen would win The Open 4 instances.

Cinque Ports tidbit: The venue is greater than able to internet hosting The Open, it merely lacks the area and infrastructure to have the ability to stage the match, therefore Royal St. George’s emergence.

Prince’s

Sandwich, England
Hosted one Open, in 1932.

Situated adjoining to Royal St. George’s, the course made for 3 Open venues inside a number of miles of one another. It received its one and solely Open in 1932, when Gene Sarazen set a scoring file that stood for 18 years. A lot of the course was destroyed throughout World Struggle II because the Royal Air Pressure used it for bombing goal observe. Though the greens have been left largely intact, The Open would by no means return.

Prince’s tidbit: Sarazen led the one Open at Prince’s after each spherical and defeated Macdonald Smith by 5 strokes.

Musselburgh

Musselburgh, Scotland
Hosted six Opens; the primary in 1874, the final in 1889.

Final however actually not least, Musselburgh goes to the top of the listing just because any person needed to and it’s the course furthest faraway from internet hosting the championship. The nine-hole course is a loop that’s largely contained inside an present horse racetrack. It performed an enormous half within the early days of the championship; for a time The Open rotated between Musselburgh, St. Andrews and Prestwick.

Musselburgh tidbit: The course is formally acknowledged by the Guinness E book of World Data because the oldest surviving golf course.

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