This is a repost of a 2010 feature by my friend and Old Course caddie John Boyne, part three of three. Part one is here and two here. This piece covers the final six holes of The Old Course, and how a professional golfer should fare. Many thanks to Boynie for this great resource. ~Tony Korologos
13th, Hole O’ Cross (In), 465 yards, Par4
Now the golf course begins. This magnificent par four plays as the second most difficult hole on the course after the 17th Road Hole not only during the Championship but also day to day.
The tee was extended in 2005 which cunningly brought the aptly named ‘Coffin’ bunkers that sit, apparently, on the left of the fairway back into play. A carry of close to 300 yards is now required to clear the last of the ‘Coffins’. The ideal line from the tee is to drive over the first couple of ‘Coffin’ bunkers onto what could be regarded as the 6th fairway. From this position you have a simpler approach shot to the green. Any tee shot to the right of the ‘Coffin’ bunkers will leave a blind second through a narrow entrance that is guarded by a deep greenside bunker on the right and a horrendously thick matted ‘grass bunker’ at the front. This nightmarish thin entrance also has a down slope which invariably kicks the approaching long iron a good distance past the Championship pin positions, generally placed over three of the days behind the right bunker. Forget going after the pin (unless on the 6th fairway) and accept the centre of this acre plus green and a two putt par. Good luck.
14th, Long, 618 yards, par5
Another hole that was increased in length in 2005, making it the longest par five on the Open rota of golf courses taking the mantle from Royal Troon’s par five 6th at 601 yards. They were not best pleased down the west coast of Scotland.
I love this par five. A marvellous hole that has a variety of routes to the green…some that avoid the trouble and a couple that court it. The professional golfer goes direct, they cannot stop themselves.
The drive goes, initially, across an Out of Bounds wall with a 200 yard carry and avoids a set of four devilish bunkers on the left side of the fairway, the ‘Beardies’, which sit at 238 – 280 yards. Once this is achieved a three wood, or less, can be struck with everything, comfortably clearing ‘Hell’ bunker and trying to reach this raised green. If the green is not within range on the second shot perhaps the golfer should consider playing to the left of ‘Hell’ bunker onto the 5th fairway leaving him a comfortable 120-110 yards to the front edge of the green and a great angle to attack any pin position with a wee short iron in his hand. This (chicken/amateur) route offers an opportunity for a birdie if the wind is blowing, takes the stress out of the hole and certainly secures a par five which many would take if offered it on the tee.
15th, Cartgate (In), 455 Yards, Par4
This could be my favourite hole on the course. Not a long par four and seemingly not to difficult with a Stroke Index of 9. So what makes it so good to me? Answer: it is the first of the two holes on this golf links that compliments my gentle left to right (slice) drive. Also we, as caddies, can now see the vista of the old town and know that within 75 minutes we should be having a pint of beer in the Dunvegan Bar, situated 120 yards from the 18th green!
A solid drive past ‘Sutherland’ bunker at 260 yards from the tee takes the golfer to the left side of this fairway which is shared with the outward going 4th, Cartgate (Out). Over the years I have seen an extraordinary amount of second shots to this green land short, at least a full club short. There are some undulations or folds on the fairway as it nears the green which produces an illusion to the eye, foreshortening the distance to the edge of the green. The golfer tends to believe the eye, even though he has the club for the yardage, and will play less than a full shot leaving him scrambling to make par.
16th, Corner Of Dyke, 423 yards, Par4
If you see a professional golfer on the 16th tee, during this 150th Open Championship, with a driver in his hand he is an Idiot!
This is a real awkward golf hole. One plays a long iron short and slightly left of the three bunkers named ‘Principle’s Nose’ from there the golfer will have roughly 160 yards to the front edge of the green. The percentages are played on this golf hole.
It has a raised green with a four foot ridge that begins at the front right, really close to the OB fence that runs alongside the length of the fairway, and eats into the green by 17 yards. A good punched 5/6 iron running shot, landing 10 yards or so shy of the green will have the momentum to roll up the slope and should secure the par. Not many of our young thrusting 21st Century professionals may attempt this shot.
17th, Road, 495 yards, par4
Finally we arrive at the 17th Road hole.
I am sure you all know that the Championship tee has been put back 40 yards, over the fence and pathway that the spectators used to crowd around. In Opens past the spectator was really amongst the golfers on this tee, so close I would occasionally think that a perhaps a wee breath freshener might not go amiss! I do hope that when they play that drive, from the re-positioned tee, the golf fans are still going to be allowed to ‘hustle’ around and breathe upon the golfers that are taking part in this Open competition.
The European professional golfer has been using a 3 wood and a driving iron (some still used a driver if wind dictated it) over the last few years when playing in the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship. From a central position on the fairway they were striking a 7, 8 and even a 9 iron into this thinnest slither of a green. Once on the green after being able to stop the ball upon it with the now banned grooved clubs they generally proceeded to miss the birdie putt by not allowing for the large swing and always on the ‘low side’ but securing the par has not been too difficult.
This legendary golf hole needed toughened up.
For a full description, prior to the tee alteration, of this dramatic golf hole visit the following link: http://www.caddiegolftours.com/oldcoursetips/17throad.htm
This 17th Road hole is the golf hole that every golfer wishes to play and there is always drama upon it so let us hope that tradition continues.
18th, Tom Morris, 357 yards, Par4
A welcoming fairway awaits the golfer. Aiming at the clock on the right side of the R&A clubhouse and it will be tickety boo!
The 18th tee is tucked over on the right side only a few yards from the back edge of the 17th green and next to an active road, the massively wide fairway is there to be hit it and it will all be about positioning, few of the golfers will take on the green. Most of the players contending for the Championship will play a three wood left centre of the fairway. The golfer should then have a simple wedge approach to a massive green. Quite a few may forget that the approach shot to the 18th green pin position is uphill and will try to be too cute and may explain why so many roll down into the ‘Valley of Sin’.
The professional golfer will most probably have dropped a few shots, between the 13th & 18th, on route to the sanctuary of the clubhouse. His total for the first days play is -2 under par. The dropped shots are most likely to be at the 13th, 16th and 17th.
The Old Course can be simple to play and it can be tough to play.