Note: This is the first of a 3-part walk through of The Old Course at St. Andrews by my good friend and Old Course caddy John Boyne (Boynie). I asked John to give us these hole by hole descriptions for this week’s British Open and he kindly obliged because, well, he’s a hell of a good guy. Tomorrow I’ll post part two, and Wednesday will be part three. Many thanks to Boynie for doing this special piece just for Hooked On Golf Blog and The Golf Space ~Tony Korologos
The descriptions for the holes that I summarise on the Old Course at St. Andrews will be as if the golfer has found the perfect day for golf on the links – no wind!
1st, Burn, 376 yards, Par4
Should be a relatively straight forward par 4 with the tee shot heading down the widest fairway in golf – 143 yds across the walkway Granny Clarks Wynd – No excuses for missing it really!
Desired landing area is left centre of the fairway about 240 yards, a 3 or 4 iron should be enough. This will leave the approach 90 yards to the front edge plus the pin position. The hazard on the hole is the burn that runs across the front of the green so you take enough club to hit the centre of the green and two putts though if one drops in hurrah. There are usually two front pin positions, left and right about 6 &7 yards on respectively. These are sucker pins and should not be chased!
2nd, Dyke, 453 yards, Par4
A super par 4 the tee was extended back close to 40 yards in 2005 onto the Ladies Putting Green, more commonly known as the Himalayas, now creating a blind tee shot.
Ideally the drive would land on the right side of centre keeping you away from Cheape’s bunker which sits at 298 yards left of fairway. A three wood will probably be used leaving the player 150 yards into the green. The pin is usually on the top tier on this the first of St. Andrews famous ‘double greens’ and I would recommend playing it 5 yards past the front edge, allowing the ball to miss the bank at the front and therefore any crazy bounces, and gently roll down the slope towards the centre of the green.
3rd, Cartgate (Out), 387 yards, Par4
The tee shot is to a massive landing area and once again a 3 wood should be enough leaving the golfer a 100 yards to the front edge of the green plus his pin position, a good full wedge.
The trouble of the tees from this point on are small pot bunkers situated down the right side of the fairways and the 3rd hole has a couple placed at 245 & 270 yards which have to be avoided. Using a driver from the tee can take you too far into some rolling mounds, strange bounces, and awkward stances. If the drive is pulled over to the left side the approach then has to be struck across the crescent shaped bunker Cartgate behind which a couple of flags will be placed.
4th, Ginger Beer, 480 yards, Par4
This is one of golf’s unsung par fours, a great test with a big carry over a hill and rough for the shorter hitters, 277 yards, to the safety of the expansive fairway.
There is another route and that is down the right side of the hill’s banking to a thin landing strip made slightly simpler this year by the removal of a large intimidating gorse bush that sat about 180 yards in front of the tee now giving the golfer a clear view to this area. Two bunkers down the right side at 240 and 290 are to be avoided and the rough has been shaved down on the right this year. Sam Snead said that you had ‘to walk in single file’ using this route!
The approach to a sloping left to right green can be 180 – 140 yards front edge dependent on the strength of the drive. The greens defence is one bunker 23 yards into the green on the left side and two small pots at the rear. A large hog’s back runs through the green, left to right, 21 yards on and the majority of the pin positions will be over this. Land short of this and it is an extremely tough putt with a couple of big breaks.
5th, Hole o’ Cross, 568 yards, Par5
The first of the two par 5s and the first really good birdie opportunity. If the professional walks of here with a par or worse he should be furious.
Drive is to the left side of the fairway as the right has seven bunkers, referred to as the Seven Sisters, the main set of three are at 265 yards and the last sits at 307 yards. Once on the left centre of the fairway a good solid fairway wood or long iron to a raised welcoming green, that is close to 100 yards deep, should present a two putt birdie. There is a deep gully at the front of the green and if the golfer is a wee bit greedy in trying to get close to the front green pin positions there is a danger of hitting the bank and rolling down into it. An awkward chip or putt from this position tends to blow away the birdie.
6th, Heathery (Out), 412 yards, Par4
A blind tee shot that normally has the visiting amateur baffled in which direction to go. Different when the Open is staged here though as the grandstands (bleachers) and tv towers offer lines for the professional to take. This is a pretty simple par four that should offer up a birdie to most players.
A really good drive on the correct line can get you close to the green which only has a small gully at the front for protection. Three of the Championship flags are usually at the front, 8 – 10 yards, over the gulley’s ridge. I have seen a few players putt their approach from the fairway down and up through the gully to nestle close to these front pins.
Six holes completed and if the professional golfer is worth his salt and the day is going reasonably well with his putter he should be -2 under par. The following six holes offer four short par 4s and two par 3s and a golfer with the (alleged) quality of these guys will be looking to pick up at least three more birdies, thereby achieving a score that he will want to keep as intact as he wanders up the 18th.