ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – A hole-by-hole look at the Old Course at St. Andrews, site of the 139th British Open starting on Thursday:
No. 1, 376 yards, par 4 (Burn): A short opening hole with no bunkers in the generous fairway, the only issue being the Swilcan Burn that runs down the right side of the fairway and across the face of the green. As with everything at St. Andrews, the wind dictates the ease of this hole. It can be a long iron off the tee and a lob wedge, or a driver and mid-iron. Players should avoid going after a hole location toward the front of the green.
No. 2, 453 yards, par 4 (Dyke): The ideal tee shot is a drive between Cheape’s bunker on the left at just over 300 yards from the tee and the edge of the rough on the right, which features thick gorse. Championship pin positions are often found on the high left side of the green beyond a sharp ridge that can throw the ball left into a deep bunker or right toward the lower level of the green.
No. 3, 397 yards, par 4 (Cartgate Out): Another good birdie opportunity in favorable conditions. The drive should be to the right side of the fairway, which is lined with three pot bunkers and small gorse bushes. That leaves the best angle to avoid Cartgate Bunker, which is shaped like a crescent and cuts deeply into the left side of the green. A small, subtle ridge in front of the green can produce strange kicks.
No. 4, 480 yards, par 4 (Ginger Beer): The options off the tee are to go straight at the flag down a narrow strip of fairway hemmed by dunes and gorse or to take the drive over mounds on the left, where the fairway widens to merge with the inward 15th hole. The farther left the tee shot, the more difficult the approach with a bunker on the left and the green sloping away to the right.
No. 5, 568 yards, par 5 (Hole O’Cross Out): Typically the easiest hole on the Old Course at most championships. One of only two par 5s, but easily reachable in two shots as long as the wind is not into the players’ faces. The tee shot must avoid seven bunkers on the right between 270 and 320 yards. The best place to lay up is between two spectacle bunkers. The sheer size of the green – 92 yards from front to back – can frustrate many birdie chances.
No. 6, 412 yards, par 4 (Heatherly Out): The tee shot is completely blind, so bunkers to the left and right are hidden as the hole drops to a lower level beyond the gorse-covered ridge. A hidden dip runs across the front of the green, making the approach shot deceptive. Still, it should be nothing more than a wedge to a relatively flat putting surface.
No. 7, 371 yards, par 4 (High Out): This starts the famous St. Andrews loop, a six-hole span of short par 4s and two par 3s. On the only true dogleg on the Old Course, most players will hit iron to a flat area beyond a large mound where the seventh and 11th holes cross. The green is guarded by Shell Bunker and slopes from left to right.
No. 8, 175 yards, par 3 (Short): The only par 3 on the outward nine, with the skyline of St. Andrews and its prominent towers and steeples on the horizon. Depending on the wind, this can be a short iron or a 5-iron. A large green is partly obscured by a ridge, and while relatively flat, the tough hole location is behind a vertical-faced bunker on the left side.
No. 9, 352 yards, par 4 (End): This might play as a long par 3 for some big hitters because the green is relatively flat with no trouble in front of it, making it reachable off the tee. Gorse bushes creep close to the left edge of the green, but there is a wide expanse of fairway between the gorse and two bunkers on the right.
No. 10, 386 yards, par 4 (Bobby Jones): In calm conditions, this is another par 4 that can be reached off the tee. The landing area is tighter, with rough to the left and two small bunkers on the right about 290 yards away. The green slopes much more than the ninth hole, falling away from a raised front.
No. 11, 174 yards, par 3 (High In): The final par 3, and far more intimidating than the other. It could be anything from a 9-iron to a 3-iron depending on the wind. The green is guarded by bunkers so severe that Bobby Jones once tore up his card after three swings in one of them. A ball in Strath Bunker in front of the green could require players to go backward. The green slopes severely to the front.
No. 12, 348 yards, par 4 (Heathery In): This short hole is deceptive because of four bunkers that are hidden from the tee. Craig Wood first drove the green in the 1933 Open, and Sam Snead did it in 1946. The hole location dictates the line of the tee shot. The top level of a two-tiered green is only 12 paces deep and demands utmost accuracy with the wedge. Look for most players to go for the green.
No. 13, 465 yards, par 4 (Hole O’Cross In): A brutal string of holes begins with a shot that must avoid a line of Coffin bunkers down the left side. The approach could require a long iron, which must carry the entire way to a green that is slightly elevated, and should stay left of the flag. A shallow hollow filled with rough on the left, and a deep bunker on the right, guard the entrance to the green.
No. 14, 618 yards, par 5 (Long): An out-of-bounds wall runs down the right side and a group of four Beardies bunkers on the left require a 250-yard carry. Into the wind, the second shot should be played toward the fifth fairway to avoid Hell Bunker. Into the wind, this is a three-shot par 5. The face of the green rises steeply before dropping away back and left.
No. 15, 455 yards, par 4 (Cartgate In): The Sutherland bunker in the middle of the fairway could be a factor into the wind. The fairway tightens at about 300 yards, and the drive should be aimed at the church steeple between two hillocks. The approach is open to a sloping green, but it should be a high shot to avoid the humps and bumps in front of the green.
No. 16, 423 yards, par 4 (Corner of the Dyke): The fence that marks the route of the old railway into St. Andrews runs down the right side of the entire hole, leaving only a narrow strip of fairway between the fence and a cluster of three bunkers called the Principal’s Nose. The drive should be left of those three bunkers to set up an open shot to a green that rises sharply at the front and is guarded by a bunker front and behind.
No. 17, 495 yards, par 4 (Road): The Road Hole is the most famous in the Open rotation with a reputation as the toughest par 4 in championship golf. An additional 40 yards means the drive should carry 260 yards over the replica railway sheds to reach the right edge of the fairway. Approach should be to the right half of the green to avoid the Road Hole Bunker. Anything long will result in a shot from the road behind the green.
No. 18, 357 yards, par 4 (Tom Morris): The closing hole is short, simple and dramatic. It can be reached from the tee, but a road runs along the right side, and shots toward the green – the first or the second – must carry a swale known as the “Valley of Sin.” The most famous part of the hole is the Swilcan Bridge.