The Open 2015: Old Course guide

Bunkers, blind shots and bemusing greens - how to play St Andrews' Old Course

Charlie Lemay's picture
Wed, 15 Jul 2015

The Open 2015: Old Course guide

Hole 1, Par 4, 376 yards, "Burn"

The opening hole's fairway is around 130 yards wide, but it's still a nervy tee shot. Land just left of the Swilcan Bridge in the right-centre of the fairway for a good angle for your approach. A relatively soft opener. (Photo: Getty Images) 

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Hole 2, Par 4, 453 yards, "Dyke"

An unsighted tee shot hit over a sea of gorse to find the fairway. Left is safe but makes the second harder, right is more dangerous but with a better angle in. With the wind behind, there's a chance of driving the green. 

Hole 3, Par 4, 397 yards, "Cartgate"

A wide fairway, protected by bunkers on the right but with plenty of room on the left. Only a wedge into the green, but it's hard to get it close. 

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Hole 4, par 4, 480 yards, "Ginger Beer"

A island of shrubbery stands in the middle of the fairway, and the question is do you fly it or go left or right? The decision often depends on the wind. One of the hardest holes on the opening nine.

Hole 5, par 5, 568 yards, "Hole O'Cross"

A wide fairway, and two good knocks will put you on the putting surface. A hollow protects the front of the green, which is a mammoth acre and a half, and 95 yards from front to back. 

Hole 6, par 4, 412 yards, "Heathery"

Bunkers, known as the "Coffins" await on the left of the fairway, and sand also protects the right. An undulating fairway means it's a bit of a lottery as to the bounce of your ball, and the approach is also awkward thanks to a five-foot rampart at the front. A flat putting surface, so you're safe once you get on. 

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Hole 7, par 4, 371 yards, "High"

A driver will take the pros over the gorse, which stretches to around 240 yards from the tee. An undulating fairway leaves an awkward pitch into the green, which has a camber at the front. 

Hole 8, par 3, 175 yards, "Short"

The first of two short holes at the Home of Golf. The green is unsighted from the tee because of a bunker at the front, and it's hard to get it close as you often get a hard bounce. Shares a green with the 10th hole, and has many subtle breaks. 

Hole 9, Par 4, 352 yards, "End"

Players can drive the green here, especially if the wind is helping, but two pot bunkers in the middle of fairway are a deterrent. The approach is into a hard, circular green, which has little definition. One of the easier holes in the round. 

Hole 10, Par 4, 386 yards, "Bobby Jones"

Reachable in one for the longest hitters.  It's important to get in position off the tee as the pitch is tricky, because it often skids. A large putting surface which is shared with the eighth. The large grandstand makes this one of the noisiest greens on the course. 

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Hole 11, Par 3, 174 yards, "High"

The shortest hole on the course. A deep bunker at the front of the green is sometimes almost impossible to get out of. The wind greatly changes the difficulty of the hole, and you could be hitting a short iron one day, and a mid iron the next. 

Hole 12, Par 4, 348 yards, "Heathery"

Another par four which is reachable for the boomers. A devilish bunker awaits short of the green, which often swallows a ball that looks set for the putting surface. A firm, fast green.

Hole 13, Par 4, 465 yards, "Hole O'Cross"

The left-side of the fairway is guarded by bunker, while going down the right gives you a blind shot into the green. A huge double green which often yields long putts. This is one of the toughest holes on the course. 

Hole 14, Par 5, 618 yards, "Long"

A long par five, which becomes even more treacherous if the wind is into the players' faces. Out of bounds down the right and bunkers on the left of the fairway. The "Hell Bunker" awaits second shots which are going for the green. You'll see eagles and doubles bogeys here this week. 

Hole 15, Par 4, 455 yards, "Cartgate"

A straight par four, with a fairway that narrows the further you get down it. A small but strategically placed bunker awaits in the centre. Another double green which runs away from the player, and often kicks to the right. 

Hole 16, Par 4, 424 yards, Corner of the Dyke

Out of bounds all the way down the right, and once again there are bunkers in the middle of the fairway at around 260 yards. Players can fly the traps with driver in hand, or lay up with an iron. A bank at the front of the green can kick your ball to the back, and the surface is hard to read which makes putting tough. 

Hole 17, Par 4, 495 yards, "The Road Hole"

The "Road Hole" is possibly the most famous hole in golf. Players have an unsighted tee shot and drive over the corner of the Old Course Hotel. Slice it and you're in the grounds, play too far left and you're in the thick rough. The Road Bunker greets anything left of the green, while anything right or long goes onto the road and possibly up against the wall. The green is narrow, so requires an accurate approach shot. 

Hole 18, Par 4, 357 yards, "Tom Morris"

Depending on the conditions, the green can be reached off the tee. The fairway is wide, but it's out of bounds to the right. Cross Swilcan Bridge, and you approach the "Valley of Sin", a hollow which runs in front of the green. Players can pitch into it, or take it out of the equation by flying overhead. The sloping green can lead to a testing putt, when nerves will undoubtedly be jangling.