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The Open is golf’s original major championship and was first played in 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland.
The 149th Open Championship will head for the 15th time to Royal St. George’s. Only Muirfield (16), Prestwick (24) and St Andrews (29) have hosted the tournament on more occasions. The last Open here was in 2011 when Darren Clarke lifted the Claret Jug. This classic links, which we rank as the 23rd best golf course in the world, is a truly monumental challenge with undulating fairways, steep dunes and deep bunkering, particularly at the 4th, said to be the highest bunker in England. The par-3 17th was made notorious by Thomas Bjorn in 2003 when he took three shots to get out of the bunker before finishing runner-up to Ben Curtis.
Where else could the 150th Open be played? Picking St Andrews as host every five years since 1990, the R&A have decided to skip a year and allow the Old Course to take the historic event a year later. More Opens have been played here than any other course and we rate it as the 8th best golf course in the world. Steeped in history and tradition, The Open has been won here by golf’s greatest players including Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, and Nick Faldo. The final two holes are world famous, starting with the par-4 17th where players have the hotel and infamous Road Hole bunker to negotiate, followed by the par-4 18th, reachable from the tee and played over the Swilken Bridge towards the Royal and Ancient clubhouse.
The Open has been staged 12 times at Royal Liverpool in Wirral, England, or Hoylake as it’s often known, most recently in 2014 when Rory McIlroy won the Claret Jug. In 2006, it was the scene of Tiger Woods’ third Open Championship victory, and his second in a row, shortly after the death of his father, Earl. We rate it as the 27th best golf course in the UK. It’s a superb links layout with beautiful greens, wonderful natural contours and punishing bunkers which persuade tricky threaded tee shots. The best holes are mid-round and played along the coastline, and test every part of a golfer’s game.
Royal Troon in Ayrshire, Scotland, has hosted The Open nine times. Henrik Stenson won here in 2016 with a final round 63, narrowly beating playing partner Phil Mickelson in a memorable 18-hole duel. It will mark 100 years since Troon’s first Open Championship in 1923, and we rate it as the 23rd best course in the UK. The front nine on this wide open links is a brilliant test of golf with the 120-yard 8th, heavily bunkered with a small green known as the Postage Stamp, a standout hole. The challenge increases as you reach the back nine; usually played into the wind, it’s a fabulous stretch of testing golf. It’s been modernised over the years, but remains wonderfully old fashioned and traditional.