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Carnoustie is no1. The toughest, longest course on the Open rota. It may not be as picturesque as the others but when labelled "the most challenging links in the world" you should sit up and take notice. Els described it as the best bunkered course in the world? Wind or no wind, it's a monster but so rewarding to play. And remember, golf was played on the Angus coastline long before St Andrews!

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Carnoustie championship is as hard as it gets when the wind blows. A rugged big links highly regarded as a tough but fair test of golf, and what about the closing 3 holes? Magnificent!

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Played Royal Troon, Carnoustie, Muirfield and Birkdale this past October and I can honestly say I have no idea how to rank these 4 courses as I said "this was the best day of my life" after completing each round. But for the sake of discussion, I'll give it a shot.

1. Muirfield (Can't put my finger on it, but it's life changing (golf wise)).

2. Royal Troon (My favorite of the 3 courses, from just golf stand point)

3. Carnoustie (I could have easily ranked this course #1, it was in the best shape of all, and the rawness of it - weather/layout/dark nasty part of Scotland, were incredibly awesome in a tough way to explain).

4. Birkdale (I'm sorry, but it doesn't compare to the 3 courses above, almost has a claustrophobic feel as you are sunk in with the way its laid out). Very nice course, but I would stay north.

I had such an incredible time over there that I'm going to try and make it an annual pilgrimage. The problem is that when I go back, I want to play the same courses, but I know that's probably not the best idea.

If I was only recommending one course I would go with Troon, Muirfield is just so expensive if you do it the right way, and Carnoustie is a bear to get to.

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So, what does it cost to play these BO courses?

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Got to agree with Barry D. Liverpool is the perfect base to play 3 British Open courses, Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) Royal Birkdale and Royal Lytham. The apre-golf is also 5* with Liverpools famous night life. But them maybe I'm biased as I arrange highly personalised golf tours to all British Open courses. Why not combine these great courses with the Greatest Horserace of them all ... The Grand National. (14th April 2012)
I am currently updating my website but in the meantime should anybody wish to contact me, please do so on the email address above.

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Again, it was tough to leave it off the list, but had to cut it off somewhere!

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Dear Craig,
those are all great courses but how can you leave out CARNOUSTIE, which all the pros say is the toughest of the curren Open Rota and has a lot of history, including Ben Hogan's 1953 win an Jean Van de Velde's more recent Meltdown.
it also has the 3 tougheat closing holes on the Rota.
As a bonus, it is less than an hour from St Andrews.
Geo

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Turnberry always gets the write up here in the South West of Scotland but there are many other great courses here. Prestwick is were the Open begun its not that far down the road and then you have Royal Troon, Darley and Dundonald links these are all wonderful courses.

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Just returned from a fantastic golf vacation in Scotland with 11 other guys. We played Prestwick and while the course wasn't a top five golf course, the experience was. Also, Prestwick offers a unique "Day of Golf at Prestwick" - two ball in the morning with the members, lunch with the members (coat and tie required), and a four ball in the afternoon with your buddies. The first Open Course with the second most Open Tournaments, and the oldest unchanged hole in Open Championship history (the 17th) make the history perhaps second only to St. Andrews.

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I had the priviledge to play Carnoustie and the Old Course in May 2011. While I haven't played any of the other BO courses, based on our experience at Carnoustie it has to be in the top 5. The combination of history, difficulty, conditioning and pure, old school golf atmosphere is hard to beat; it reminded me a lot of Oakmont here in the U.S. I agree that the Old Course should be included; there's nothing like it, especially when combined with the town of St. Andrews.