The five toughest Open Championship courses – according to the average scores

Open Championship

The Open Championship has consistently challenged the skills of the world’s top golfers for over 160 years.

Here we rank the toughest courses to have hosted the Open Championship.

In total, 14 venues have played host to the Open Championship, with 10 currently in rotation.

The measure of toughness we used for the ranking is the average score at the venue.

5. Muirfield

A classic links challenge, Muirfield has played host to the Open Championship on no less than 16 occasions.

The undulating fairways feed wayward shots into classic links bunkers, but Muirfield has a reputation for being the fairest course in the Open rota.

In its most recent stint as Open host, Muirfield played longer than ever before with it set up at 7,192 yards.

Phil Mickelson won the Open when the tournament was last staged at Muirfield.

4. Royal Birkdale

Royal Birkdale only joined the Open Championship rotation in 1954 but has already staged the event nine times.

The raised greens make for great viewing for spectators, but for players they prove a target that can be very hard to hit.

When the wind is blowing, or gusting as it does, then Royal Birkdale’s challenge increases exponentially.

Jordan Speith shot a one-under final round to claim the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale.

3. Royal Troon

Royal Troon is known for lulling players into a false sense of security on its first six holes.

The middle holes of the out and back course have seen many a campaign come unglued.

The final day showdown between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson when Royal Troon last hosted is an iconic Open Championship moment and showed how tough it can be to close things out.

Its 11th hole is a scorecard killer that has knocked the best off their game.

2. Royal Lytham & St Annes

Royal Lytham & St Annes is a relatively short course but its high degree of difficulty can be accounted for through its extensive deployment of bunkers.

There are 174 strategically positioned pot bunkers that give players plenty of pause for thought going round Royal Lytham & St Annes.

It is often accused of being a bland course but players likely do better for being focused on the challenge at hand.

Royal Lytham & St Annes has one of the most difficult starts of the Open Championship rotation and its third hole is particularly harsh.

1. Carnoustie

Carnoustie would have been the choice if most were asked to name the Open course that was the most challenging.

Playing very long at over 7,400 yards Carnoustie demands everything a golfer has to give in an epic test of endurance.

Carnoustie has held the Open Championship on eight occasions.

Even in the best conditions the 17th hole at the course is a bit of a nightmare and is dubbed ‘Island’.