TG Top 50 Open Legacy Course: Our favourite courses crafted by men who lifted the Claret Jug
The likes of Old Tom Morris, and the Great Triumvirate of Harry Vardon, JH Taylor andJames Braid were pioneers of the game. Not only were they great players, but great course architects, too, with the prolific Scot Braid being responsible for an incredible 200-plus layouts sprinkled across the land.
Clearly, many of their courses have had to be tweaked and enhanced, chiefly owing to modern technology. But there's no doubt we have much to be grateful for in the legacy these Open-winning legends left us, along with the layouts created by modern superstars including Nicklaus, Faldo and Seve. Treat yourself and check them out – there's bound to be one or two near you and they're not as expensive as you might think...
The Heritage, CO Laois
A pulsating design and among Ireland's best inland layouts. It's hosted the Seve Trophy and with water galore, notably at the 9th and 18th, it's matchplay heaven.
Green fees: From €35 (Mon). Contact: 00353 57864 2321.
The Shire, Herts
Seve turned ordinary north London land into a striking course with water on 12 holes including the S-shaped pond on the tough par-4 18th.
Green fees: £190 per fourball, Mon-Thur before midday. Contact: 020 8441 7649.
SIR NICK FALDO
Chart Hills, Kent
A modern beauty and beast rolled into one. You have to carefully plot your way around water hazards and sand traps, the varied bunkering, ranging from deep pot bunkers to the serpent-like signature bunker on the 5th. Signature hole is the par-3 17th with its island green.
Green fees: £45 midweek, £50 weekends. Contact: 01580 292222.
Quality and great value parkland within Belleisle Estate on Ayr's outskirts. Enjoy the spectacular Isle of Arran views, but beware the Curtecan burn which features on several holes.
Green fees: From £36. Contact: 01292 441258.
Braid's touch is clearly evident at this regular Open Qualifying venue just off the A1. The highly-rated par-73 links is consistently robust and always demanding.
Green fees: Midweek £50. Contact: 01289 387380.
One of Essex's leading layouts, Colchester is the home of a gently undulating mature parkland with the fast-running fairways lined by a variety of mature woodland including firs and oaks. Green fees: From £45 midweek. Contact: 01206 853920.
Copthorne, West Sussex
Braid carried out significant modifications in the 1930s though the length of the course – a challenging heathland/woodland combination - was extended to 6454 yards in 2015.
Green fees: From £50 midweek (10% discount when you book online). Contact: 01342 712033.
East Brighton, East Sussex
Classic par-72 layout for players of all levels. Playable and in excellent condition year- round. Green fees: County card rate £25. Contact: 01273 604838.
Hull, East Yorkshire
Challenging parkland with a splendid variety of holes. Regularly hosts both county and regional amateur and professional tournaments.
Green fees: Nov 1-Feb 28 £25. Contact: 01482 660972.
Kirkistown Castle, County Down
Sitting on the beautiful Ards Peninsula, you'll relish hitting off elevated tees as you plot your way around this par-69 Braid design from 1934. Worth adding to an itinerary that could include nearby Royals, Portrush and County Down.
Green fees: Nov-Mar £35 midweek, £40 weekends. Contact: 028 4277 1233.
Par-70 layout on unspoilt heathland around the town's racecourse in the beautiful rolling hills of south Shropshire. It's only just over 6,200 yards but provides a good test.
Green fees: £36 midweek, £50 weekends. Contact: 01584 856366.
North Shore, Lincs
A splendid combination of links and parkland holes just outside Skegness. A blind par 3 and several driveable par-4s, including the 18th in front of the hotel, stand out.
Green fees: £19.50 (mid-Oct). Contact: 01754 764822.
Peterborough Milton, Cambs
This well-established, easy walking parkland weaves around the Fitzwilliam Estate. But don't think it's a stroll in the park – the teasing par-5 opener, with a lake splitting the fairway, is just a taste of the test to come.
Green fees: £40 midweek, £50 weekends. Contact: 01733 380489.
Porthmadog, North Wales
Overshadowed by nearby Royal St David's and Aberdovey, Porthmadog is a class links in its own right. A true, well-bunkered links with top views of Snowdon and a brilliant back nine. Green fees: £37 midweek, £42 weekends. Contact: 01766 514124.
St Enodoc, Cornwall
Braid is responsible for one of England's great links though it received a facelift by Peter McEvoy a few years ago to ensure it remains a test today. Right from the start you're tested and delighted in equal measure on a quirky but fair seaside course. Simply superb.
Green fees: Winter rate £45 (Nov 1-Mar 31). Contact: 01208 863 216.
Stranraer, Dumfries & Galloway
Braid's final design before he died in 1950 saw him bow out in style. The par-4 5th is the star, played from an elevated tee to a tight, sloping fairway between a densely gorsed bank and two fairway bunkers.
Green fees: £35 midweek, £40 weekends. Contact: 01776 870245.
Underrated Braid heathland created in the early 1920s and significantly improved in recent times. Fantastic par-4 finale to a green beneath the towering 'House in the Clouds.'
Green fees: From £35. Contact: 01728 454926.
This is the humble home of the Ryder Cup, where founder Samuel Ryder was a legendary figure. It's a splendid mature parkland overlooked by a clubhouse featuring interesting Ryder Cup memorabilia.
Green fees: From £28 midweek. Contact: 01727 853327.
SIR HENRY COTTON
Abridge G&CC, Essex
Essex isn't really renowned for the quality of ts courses but Abridge is one of the county's nest. The mature par-72 parkland layout was designed by Sir Henry about half a century ago and in 1972 staged the Martini International won by Brian Barnes.
Green fees: From £25. Contact: 01708 688 333.
Three Hammers, West Midlands
You can sharpen up your short game at this excellent complex which boasts an 18-hole short course, with holes ranging from 45 to 122 yards, originally designed by Sir Henry Cotton in 1964. It recently underwent a £100,000 makeover by Hawtree Design.
Green fees: £9.95. Contact: 01902 790428.
Lytham Green Drive, Lancs
Neat and tidy and easy walking parkland layout which has been a final qualifying course for the Open at nearby Royal Lytham. Great greens, but they're small and well protected.
Green fees: From £45. Contact: 01253 737390.
Pannal, North Yorks
Varied 1906 design with outstanding views over the North Yorkshire Moors. There are many memorable holes including the par-3 17th – almost 200 yards over a valley.
Green fees: £100 fourball on Thurs & Sun pm. Contact: 01423 872628.
Collingtree Park, Northants
Challenging former European Tour layout. Highlights include the par-3 5th, which is well guarded by water, and the par-5 finale played to an island green in front of the clubhouse.
Green fees: £35 midweek, £40 weekends. Contact: 01604 700000.
OLD TOM MORRIS
King James VI, Perthshire
Hidden Perthshire gem, historic King James is believed to be Scotland's only inland island course – it sits on Moncreiffe Island where it has resided since 1897.
Green fees: £25 midweek, £30 weekends. Contact: 01738 632460.
A demanding parkland foil for Fife's plethora of world-class links. Kirkcaldy was designed by Old Tom in 1904 and provides some dramatic Forth views. Well worth a visit while at the Home of Golf
Green fees: From £25 midweek. Contact: 01592 205240.
Prestwick St Nicholas, Ayrshire
Proud home of the 26th oldest club in the world, this is a traditional links with sandy, free draining soil, gorse, deep bunkers and a seemingly ever-present, testing wind. This is also where Old Tom was a founding honorary member.
Green fees: Last-minute booking (within four days of play), £50. Always call to check for availability. Contact: 01292 477608.
Rosapenna, Co Donegal
Rosapenna somewhat slipped from the radar after once being ranked the third best course in the British Isles, but nevertheless it's still an outstanding place to play, specially following the addition of the Sandy Hills course over a decade ago.
Green fees: €55 online dawn/dusk rate before 9am & after 3.30pm. Contact: 00353 7491 55000.
It's the longest course in Ross-shire and if you have the game, visitors can play off the whites but keep in mind the wind that invariably blows along the Moray Firth. Off the tee it is visually intimidating, but there's usually more landing area than first appears.
Green fees: From £25. Contact: 01862 892314.
Carden Park, Cheshire
Top parkland with typical Nicklaus risk-reward features – there are split fairways on two holes – though the par-4 17th which weaves around a lake leading to a green in front of the hotel is the pick of a very impressive collection.
Green fees: From £25 midweek. Contact: 01829 731000.
Mount Juliet, Co. Kilkenny
Arguably Ireland's best parkland layout can be found at the Kilkenny resort: it opened in 1991 and has hosted several top international events, including the World Golf Championship in 2002 and 2004 plus three Irish Opens.
Green fees: Midweek before 8am, €75 includes a buggy. Contact: 00353 56777 3012.
St Mellion, Cornwall
This was the Golden Bear's first course project in England – and everything about it oozes class and quality including immaculate conditioning, gorgeous greens and countryside views and, most significantly, variety of holes. It even has its own Amen Corner after the turn.
Green fees: Oct-from £30. Contact: 01579 352004.
WILLIE PARK JNR
There are no par-5s to gorge on but you do have to deal with a string of lengthy and demanding par-4s while the fairways are mostly lined with the kind of thick gorse which swallows up your drive once and for all. Challenging with a capital C.
Green fees: Winter (Nov-Mar) – foursome (per person), £40 midweek & £50 weekends. Contact: 01728 452927.
Gog Magog, Cambs
On the outskirts of Cambridge you'll discover a wonderful golfing venue featuring the historic Old Course (opened in 1901) and the modern Wandlebury (1997). But it's the former most want to play as it offers great variety, views and test. Green fees: County card rate – £27.50. Contact: 01223 247626.
Gailes Links, Ayrshire
The Open final qualifying home of the ninth oldest club in the world and according to double major champion Sandy Lyle "one of the world's truly great tests of links golf."
Green fees: Winter rate (from Oct) - £45. Contact: 0141 942 2011.
Montrose (Medal), Angus
This old course dates back to the 16th century and there are two parts to the modern Medal, the first basically following the lines of the dunes and beach while the second plays back towards town before returning to the dunes.
Green fees: From £40 (Sunday). Contact: 01674 672932.
Notts (Hollinwell), Notts
Wonderful heathland and though Notts provides pure golfing joy, be warned, you can easily spend your day hacking out of heather or avoiding trees if you don't drive it straight. Immaculate greens.
Green fees: Nov (after 1pm) £40. Contact: 01623 753225.
A top-class if somewhat quirky links – you encounter a number of 'blind' holes - which winds between some serious dunes at times, producing some of the nest holes in the land. Amazing value-for-money.
Green fees: Autumn rates (mid-Oct-Nov 30) - £36 midweek, £48 weekends. Contact: 01697 331304.
J H TAYLOR
You're virtually guaranteed a game here whatever time of the year – it's based on chalk so is free-draining meaning the undulating 6,096-yards par-70 layout is playable year-round. The club itself is 110 years old.
Green fees: From £15. Contact: 01264 358040.
A challenging clifftop course with stunning views of the scenic south Devon coastline, and Bigbury's coastal location means it is virtually always playable and in ne condition.
Green fees: £39 before 1pm. Contact: 01548 810 557.
Heaton Park, Manchester
One of the best municipal courses in the region opened in 1911 and has hosted a string of prestigious amateur and professional tournaments. The park's three lakes come into play, especially on the 193-yard 11th.
Green fees: £15 midweek, £20 weekends. Contact: 0161 654 9899.
Langley Park, Kent
Taylor predicted: "I have no hesitation in saying that the course will afford an excellent test of golf." He wasn't wrong. The back nine features three tricky short holes, signing off with a potential card wrecker... a 162 yarder over a lake.
Green fees: £45 Mon & Thu (10am-5pm). Contact: 0208 6586849.
Selsdon Park, Surrey
Taylor used all his design skills to engineer a fine test for the "thinking" golfer at this Croydon venue featuring nine par-4s, five par-5s and a memorable par-3 penultimate hole from an elevated tee across a valley.
Green fees: £25 midweek, £35 weekends. Contact: 0208 768 3116.
York, North Yorks
An exquisite and natural blend of parkland/ heathland a short drive from historic York. Admittedly, it lacks length, but it doesn't fall short in the charm and personality departments while the greens are quality, too.
Green fees: From £45 midweek. Contact: 01904 490304.
Plotted on the Cambrian Coast in Snowdonia this wonderful links and parkland combo is still underrated and under-valued. Signature hole is the 246-yard par-3 3rd played from an elevated tee offering stunning views.
Green fees: £43 midweek, £48 weekends. Contact: 01758 712622.
Copt Heath, West Midlands
Classic heathland initially created by the hands of Harry Vardon and later enhanced by Harry Colt, and today simply a great place to play with great greens, though you'll do well to avoid all 96 bunkers.
Green fees: County Card rate £35. Contact: 01564 731620.
This part of the world is famous for its world- class links, but this is a different ball game in the form of an attractive, undulating parkland on the Wirral Peninsula on the banks of Dee Estuary and overlooks the Welsh hills.
Green fees: £35 midweek, £40 weekends. Contact: 0151 342 1237.
Another undulating parkland treat plotted on fast-draining terrain on the south side of the River Tyne, Hexham has a splendid collection of holes, glorious greens, stunning views and a memorable short par-4 finale.
Green fees: £30 midweek, £40 weekends. Contact: 01434 603072.
This relatively open and exposed par-70 layout sits on swift-draining Ther eld Heath so is always playable and in good nick. It's a decent all round examination too specially with a couple of par-3s over 220 yards.
Green fees: £20-£30. Contact: 01763 243476.
St Neots, Cambs
Set out as a Vardon-designed nine holer in 1912 with another nine holes being added half a century later following the club's – the oldest in Cambridgeshire – purchase of land north of the River Kym, which comes into play.
Green fees: £35 till Oct 31. Contact: 01480 472363.
Fun little nine-hole, par-35 layout which starts and nishes with daunting short holes. In-between there are some lovely par-3s and 4s. It's near the coast, plays like a links and has a wonderful set of greens.
Green fees: From £30 for 18 holes. Contact: 01502 723234.