European Tour star Stephen Gallacher chooses his fantasy 18 holes

Stephen Gallacher
With the European Tour resuming on 9 July with the Austrian Open, Stephen Gallacher and his fellow pros can look forward to competitive action once more

"My idea of a great golf course is one where you have to use every club in the bag. This course does that."

Stephen Gallacher has smacked a golf ball across the world, sinking putts at some of the best courses on the planet. Here, he brings them all to you.

BBC Scotland asked the 45-year-old to design his fantasy golf course from every hole he's played at home and abroad in his time as an amateur and for the last 25 years as a professional.

On the European Tour alone he's played in 572 events and his layout is drawn from 16 different courses in eight different countries.

"It's a par 70 and a thinker's golf course," he said. "You can't overpower it, you have to use a bit of strategy and there are multiple options in how you play nearly every hole. You've got the potential to shoot 64, but if you muck up then there's a danger of shooting 78. In my head, I'm shooting 67, but I'm going to have to play really well."

1st: Muirfield

A testing, 448-yard, par four to start. Tom Watson calls it "the toughest opening hole in Open championship golf". Gallacher is not minded to disagree. "It can give you a sleepless night. Bunkers everywhere and if you find one of them, you're in trouble. I'm not starting off with easy and working my way in here. It's strap yourself in and let's go. I'm taking a nice par and getting out of there."

2nd: Royal Dornoch

Royal Dornoch's 2nd hole
Who knows what horrors await if you shoot beyond the green at Dornoch's second?

Once again, we quote the great Watson who says the second shot on this hole is the "hardest shot in golf". Given that it's a 184-yard par three, Watson's assessment is curious. He was talking about what happens when you miss the green and have to chip from a place that nobody wants to be.

"It's an unbelievable par three," says Gallacher. "A big, slopey green, back to front. It can play anything from a nine iron to a five iron and you cannot miss the green. Ideally, you hit it below the hole and leave yourself an uphill putt, but if you go past the hole, my goodness, it's so fast. Just a brilliant, brilliant golf hole."

3rd: Bathgate

"A short par four, about 300 yards, but about 240 if you cut the dogleg. I'm throwing in a bit of sentiment here because this was my course as a kid. I used to go out there and practise at night. I'd hit wedges in there for hours. It's a special place for me. Bryan Shields was one of my best mates. I partnered him at club and county level back in the day. Bryan passed away recently, so it's another reason to include this hole because it was his favourite at Bathgate. It means a lot to me for all sorts of reasons."

4th: Valderrama

A general view of the 4th hole at Valderrama
A general view of the stunning 4th hole at Valderrama

Home of the 1997 Ryder Cup, Valderrama has been described as the Augusta of Europe. The 4th is a par five called La Cascada after the cascade of water that flows by the green. "I had to get something in from Valderrama because of how good the course is. There are five different ways you could play this hole and any time you have options like that it's great. This is generous off the tee, and it's reachable in two, but if you miss your second shot to a three-tier green you can take all sorts of numbers. The green is tiny and there's water up there and it's narrow as anything. Everybody will see this hole differently."

5th: Royal Melbourne

As the five-time Open champion, Peter Thomson, wrote of this par three: "The view from the tee is inspiring, but even for the best of players the scoring possibilities lie between one and six. Three and even four putts are common for the careless or over-exuberant. An outstanding piece of architecture."

Gallacher says this is one of his favourite golf courses in the world: "It's a magical place. You're probably hitting nine iron or wedge into the green. You're going in with loft and you can get close by being cute and using the slopes to contour it round, but if you miss your shot, you can take anything. It's an Alister MacKenzie design, the same as Augusta. He's my favourite designer of them all."

6th: PGA National

"It's where they play the Honda Classic and it's another spectacular golf course. There's a famous stretch at the end called the Bear Trap, but I'm not picking any of them. This is an unbelievable par four. It has water all down the left, two bunkers up the right which are in range and if you manage to miss both of them you now have a five iron into a green with water left and bunkers right. There's normally a cross wind as well. You're taking par again."

7th: Crans-Montana

Crans-Montana 7th hole
Golf paradise - the impossible beauty of the 7th at Crans-Montana, where every shot's a fresh-air shot

Perched on a hill in the Swiss Alps, this is golf paradise. "It's the most picturesque golf hole I've ever played. It's absolutely spectacular, a driveable par four, big bunkers left, small target. Every man in the field can reach it, short hitters, long hitters, it doesn't matter. A lovely risk-reward hole. It's a ski slope in the winter. The practice area is the nursery slope. You watch Twitter when we go there for the European Masters - nearly every player will post a picture standing on the seventh tee."

8th: Troon

The famous Postage Stamp, scene of so many stories in the Open, from Gene Sarazen's hole-in-one in 1973 at the age of 71 to a young Tiger Woods' six when going nicely in the 1997 Open. "It's just a brilliant design, isn't it? I like par threes that are short. You think you should be going at the flag but you can't because if you short side yourself it's almost impossible to get up and down. Put it to 15-20ft and it's a good shot even though you're going in with loft. Too aggressive is not good, not aggressive enough is no good either. I don't think there's anything more terrifying to a pro golfer than a short-iron par three with a crosswind. The new designs are all 240-yard par threes - long and boring. It's not a coincidence that the best par threes in the world are all shortish.

9th: Turnberry

Immortalised when Watson and Jack Nicklaus went toe-to-toe in the Duel in the Sun in 1977. "It's just an iconic hole. I haven't played it since the redesign, but I hear the new version is even better, which is saying something. I just have an image in my head of Tom Watson on the tee in 1977 with his bunnet on and the water and the lighthouse in front of him and him whacking a wood over the sea. There's a lot visually to put you off. It's just beautiful. I'm taking a par four here and I'm level par at the turn - and happy.

10th: The Belfry

Seve Ballesteros drives the 10th green at The Belfry at the Ryder Cup in 1985
The late great Seve Ballesteros drives the 10th green at The Belfry at the Ryder Cup in 1985

Memories of Seve Ballesteros. "I can't think of this famous par four over water without thinking of Seve, ripping his driver on to the green in the Ryder Cup. I was second at the Belfry in the Benson & Hedges, but I'll always associate it with the Ryder Cup, my uncle being involved in a few of them there. Watching Seve flash it on to green with a bit of wood on telly was memorable, but to go and play there and see how narrow it is in to that green was another thing entirely. It's not easy. It's the Ryder Cup he was playing, not a bounce game with his mates. Incredible."

11th: Augusta

Say your prayers, you are now entering Amen Corner. "I was doing pretty well at the Masters one year and then I fell foul in Amen Corner. The 11th hole is quite eerie because there are no fans near you, there's nothing behind the green, there's just that inky black pond on the left that you can't stop looking at. On the 10th at Augusta you're dropping downhill about 100ft and you're dropping again on 11. The second shot is the hard one. Miss left and you're wet, miss right and you need the touch of a surgeon to get up and down. It's claimed many a victim."

12th: Augusta

Augusta 12th hole
'The best players in the world are not immune' to the dangers of the 12th hole at Augusta, says Gallacher

All golfing drama is here. "Another short par three, possibly the most famous hole of them all. I played with Jose Maria Olazabal in my first practice round and he said just hit it over the trap in the middle of the green. Never mind the flag. It's nerve-wracking because you don't know what the wind is doing. You could be in the middle of the water or 20 yards over the back - the best players in the world are not immune. One of the hardest shots in golf is playing away from the flag on a par four. You don't have a target. A sensational golf hole."

13th: Augusta

"A right-to-left dogleg par five, which suits me. You can bail out up the right or try to hook it round the corner, like Bubba Watson or Rory McIlroy. You've a really good chance of a birdie. What people don't understand is the severity of the slope on your second shot. It's such a severe right to left slope. That's why you see a few in the water because they are aiming right expecting it to go left. There's talk of them moving the tee back to make it harder, but after hanging on through 10, 11 and 12 they need 13 to offer a chance of an eagle or birdie. I hope they leave it as it is."

14th Loch Lomond

The 14th hole at Loch Lomond
It's a question of risk versus reward at the 14th hole at Loch Lomond

"Another birdie chance on this great driveable par four. It's a brilliant design by Tom Weiskopf, an under-rated designer. I had to have something from Loch Lomond because it's a gorgeous golf course. You can hold the green with a driver or a three wood, so if you whack it on it should stay on and you'll have a shot at eagle. There's a burn up there so you have to accurate. Risk and reward.

15th: Le Golf National

French home of the 2018 Ryder Cup. "One of the best golf holes there is on the European Tour and one of the best courses we play. Just over 400 yards, a par four. I could have put most holes from Paris National in contention. I played it first in the Eisenhower in 1994, Tiger Woods was playing for America, and I've loved it from day one. Water all the way down the right. You want to be a wee bit aggressive off the tee but the more aggressive you are the more you bring the water into play. You're looking at the green on your second shot and it's like the flag is sitting in the middle of the lake. It's the start of a very tough closing run of holes in my dream 18."

16th: Carnoustie

The 16th at Carnoustie
Lesser talents than Danny Willett would have been as well entering the bunker with a bucket and spade, but the Englishman looks to be in complete control here at the Dunhill Links Championship in 2016

Barry Burn is known as one of the fearsome par threes in Open golf, a 248-yard brute. "I have three shortish par threes already and now I'm putting in a longer one that can be anything from a driver to a five iron depending on what the wind is doing to you. All you're trying to do is par it. Get it to the front portion of the green and run it up. Take a three and give thanks. I could easily have picked the last four from Carnoustie because I love it so much.

17th: St Andrews

The Road Hole, one of the most storied stretches of links terrain on the planet. "I still don't know if I like it or not. It's cost me a few bob in the past. I was six over at it in one of the Opens. I struggle to hit the ball left to right and I also struggle to get myself to hook it over the top of the building, so I was always end up in that left rough, which is not the place to be. You have to come from the fairway. You don't go for the flag, you play short, you play left, you run it up - there are so many ways to play it. If you want to fly it on but hit it a few yards too long you can be up against the wall or on the road. It's full of danger."

18th: DLF New Delhi

"It's where I won the Indian Open last year. I'd taken a quadruple bogey earlier in the round and I had to claw my way back into it. The 18th is an outrageous hole , a par five with a massive bunker in your landing area and trouble all the way down the left. It's a great finishing hole. You want eagles, birdies, bogeys, doubles, you want drama on 18 and this provides it. It's another sentimental choice because my son, Jack, was my caddie and it was a special day. I hit a four iron to 12ft, one of the best shots of my life, and took two putts to win.

"I'm level par on the front and three under on the back - 67. If I took three more of those on this course then I'd win."

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