Nineteen years ago, Jean Van de Velde saw his British Open hopes all but dashed on the par-4 18th at Carnoustie Golf Links.
Sure, the Frenchman still had a chance to capture the Claret Jug in a four-hole aggregate playoff, which Paul Lawrie ended up winning over Van de Velde and Justin Leonard. But the triple bogey Van de Velde made at the finishing hole in regulation was the lasting memory from a week in which Carnoustie was dubbed “Carnasty” for its sheer difficulty.
“If you don’t save a lot of energy the last four holes, mentally,” Van de Velde said, “it will break you into pieces.”
The finishing hole at Carnoustie has finished off plenty of challengers, but it certainly isn’t the only tough hole in major championship golf. Which raises an interesting – and terrifying – question: What if a golfer had to play a round on the 18 toughest holes in recent major history?
Using scoring averages from the last 25 years of majors and a par-70 template (35-35 with 12 par 4s, four par 3s and two par 5s), here is arguably the most difficult “composite” major venue.
Grab your clubs – and some Tylenol plus a few Band-Aids – and we’ll see you on the first tee. And don’t sweat being over par – the composite total score for these holes in majors since 2003 is 78.65 (versus a par of 70), and that’s for the best players in the world.
(Note: Hole yardages reflect the course’s most recent major; scoring averages are for toughest year since 1993.)