ST Andrews is the place every golfer wants to visit at least once. And the Old Course is the one that they all want to play. As the great Bobby Jones said: “If I had to choose one course to play and no other for the rest of my life then it would be St Andrews.”
St Andrews is synonymous with the Open, which it has hosted more times than any other venue, and the eyes of the golfing world will be fixed upon it this month when it hosts the 150th Open Championship.
The Old Course is where golf was first played 600 years ago and, while it is not a monster as Carnoustie, Sandwich and Birkdale can be, it will be a real test for the world’s best, especially if the wind blows.
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, who run the Open, have managed to stretch the course to 7,305 yards. That’s a length that would defeat most amateurs, but not today’s pros – unless the wind plays its part.
So, exactly what will the big boys face this month? Well, here it is hole by hole.
Hole 1 – Burn: Par 4, 376 yards
This has to be the widest fairway in world golf, although strictly speaking the 18th which runs alongside on the left makes it so. Nevertheless, Open champion Ian Baker-Finch somehow managed to go out of bounds on the left. You do have to drive left of centre because there is out of bounds on the right, but the biggest problem for the big boys will be the Swilcan Burn which runs across the front of the green – don’t be surprised to see a lot of big names not hitting driver off the tee.
Hole 2 – Dyke: Par 4, 453 yards
The drive has to go left because of the hidden fairway bunkers and savage gorse on the right. There is also Cheape’s Bunker to negotiate and the pronounced ridge on the green.
Hole 3 – Cartgate (Out): Par 4, 397 yards
A must here is to avoid Cartgate Bunker to the left of the green and, the further left you drive, the more it comes into play, and there is also a cluster of bunkers and some gorse to avoid on the right with the drive.
Hole 4 – Ginger Beer: Par 4, 480 yards
Again, it’s all about the tee shot, and a drive on to the left-hand side plateau will make the approach relatively simple. Going right into the narrow valley may shorten the second shot but it is more risky, although it will avoid the large mound 20 yards from the green and coming in from the left means taking on the carry over an array of bunkers.
Hole 5 – Hole O’Cross (Out): Par 5, 568 yards
The players will have to aim just to the left of the two bunkers known as The Spectacles and many may also lay up short of these bunkers. When they get to the green they will find it is 100 yards deep and a three-putt is not far away.
Hole 6 – Heathery (Out): Par 4, 412 yards
It’s a blind tee shot, one of many at St Andrews and, as is the norm early on, it’s best to be left, but not too far left as there are bunkers present that you cannot see, and then there is a gully to negotiate in front of the green.
Hole 7 – High (Out): Par 4, 371 yards
The seventh hole features the enormous Shell Bunker and there is a chance some players will take it on, but an iron off the tee will be the safe choice and then it’s a simple pitch to a green that slopes right.
Hole 8 – Short: Par 3, 175 yards
Perhaps one of the easiest holes on the course with a large green, but it tilts towards the back and it can be difficult to get the ball to stay on the green, and if the wind blows it has been known to need something more than a short iron.
Hole 9 – End: Par 4, 352 yards
The best line for the tee shot is left again to miss Boase’s and End Hole bunkers. It is just possible some of the big hitters will take it on and it’s a good birdie chance.
Hole 10 – Bobby Jones: Par 4, 386 yards
One of the few holes where the tee shot needs to be more right than left. It’s a tricky hole, but get the tee shot right and it’s a fairly comfortable pitch or chip and run.
Hole 11 – High (In): Par 3, 174 yards
This is one of the best short holes in world golf. If there is any wind at all it can be a nightmare, with a green that slopes severely from back to front and there are two fearsome bunkers, Hill and Strath – you could be in there all day!
Hole 12 – Heathery (In): Par 4, 348 yards
A real test here despite its relative short length for a par four. There are some nasty bunkers which often cannot be seen from the tee, but if the wind is slightly behind, some will be tempted to try and carry them, but I bet there are a lot of irons pulled out on the tee here and they will all be aiming left of Stroke bunker. The green is narrow and can be tricky.
Hole 13 – Hole O’Cross (In): Par 4, 465 yards
Any hole that has bunkers called Coffins should be treated warily, and the drive has to miss them, right or left, doesn’t really matter, although left gives a better view of the huge green. Again, the big boys might lay up, but it would make for a longer second.
Hole 14 – Long: Par 5, 618 yards
The longest hole of the course and with it, Hell Bunker. The same applies as the last hole. With a name like that, it doesn’t need any more description and the plan will be to just stay away from it and get to the landing area known as the Elysian Fields, which are left of Hell Bunker.
Hole 15 – Cartgate (In): Par 4, 455 yards
It’s worth playing this hole simply for the caddie telling you to dive on the church steeple between Miss Grainger’s bosoms! They are two prominent humps on the fairway and then the green is one of the trickiest on the course.
Hole 16 – Corner Of The Dyke: Par 4, 423 yards
Another hole to make sure the tee shot goes left to miss the Principal’s Nose bunkers. Anything right is flirting with those and the out of bounds. However, going left does bring Grant’s and Wig bunkers into play.
Hole 17 – Road: Par 4, 495 yards
Possibly the most famous hole in world golf. At 495 yards it’s a tough par four anyway, but there is pure terror all the way, starting with a drive over the old railway sheds and the corner of the Old Course Hotel. Many have been in the duck pond, some even in the first floor balconies. If you go too far left, it’s nearly impossible to get it on the shallow long green with the nightmare Road Hole Bunker and the road behind. Hit the fairway and it’s still difficult. The prudent shot is to the front right corner of the green although you will see some players trying to go long and come in the back of the green.
Hole 18 – Tom Morris: Par 4, 357 yards
Not a difficult drive with plenty of room and some players can get it all the way up to the flag. The problem is The Valley of Sin just short of the green, which slopes from the back and is perhaps the most often three-putted green in golf.