British Open, Hole by Hole
SOUTHPORT, England (AP) A hole-by-hole look at Royal Birkdale, site of the 146th British Open to be played July 20-23:
No. 1, 448 yards, par 4: One of the toughest opening holes in the Open rotation. This requires a tee shot to a fairway that bends to the left. The closer the drive is to the fairway bunker on the left, the better view of the green and angle of attack. Two pot bunkers on either side guard the front of the green.
No. 2, 422 yards, par 4: Two bunkers are to the right side of the fairway nearly 300 yards from the tee, and there is severe mounding up the left side between 250 and 290 yards. It plays into the prevailing wind, and the green is protected by six bunkers and rough-covered banks.
No. 3, 451 yards, par 4: A tee built in the dunes turns this hole into a slight dogleg to the right, and additional bunkers on the left side of the fairway at just over 300 yards makes a partially blind tee shot even tougher. The tee shot should stay on the left side of the fairway to open up the best approach to a green guarded by four pot bunkers.
No. 4, 199 yards, par 3: The par 3 is made even more difficult by a right-to-left prevailing wind and a green that can be hit only with an accurate shot. There is deep bunkering around the green, and mounds to the right will kick the errant shots away from the greens, making it tough to save par.
No. 5, 346 yards, par 4: Some players might try to drive the green if the conditions are favorable. Otherwise, an iron or hybrid is the likely choice off the tee for an approach into a two-tier green surrounded by seven bunkers.
No. 6, 499 yards, par 4: The signature hole on the front side. There is a pot bunker on the right at about 275 yards, and one on the left at just over 300 yards. The tee shot must stay between them, leaving a long approach to an elevated green that is contoured and surrounded by dunes.
No. 7, 177 yards, par 3: The shortest par 3 at Royal Birkdale, and one of two holes that have not been changed since 1998. It requires a middle iron to a crowned green that is protected by seven bunkers, one with a circular patch of grass in the middle.
No. 8, 458 yards, par 4: Bunkers on the left at about 270 yards and on the right at about 300 yards increase the demands on the tee shot, which must thread its way between a total of four bunkers. Two deep pot bunkers guard a large green that is difficult to read.
No. 9, 416 yards, par 4: This features a blind tee shot, rare for this links, and a dogleg right. There are no fairway bunkers, making it tempting to cut the corner, but extensive mounds down the right side of the fairway will punish anything less than perfection. The elevated green has two bunkers set into the hill.
No. 10, 402 yards, par 4: The tee has been moved to the right, and fairway bunkers on the left have been moved forward to about the 250-yard range to collect any tee shot hit with an iron. A new fairway bunker brings the total to five bunkers that must be avoided. The approach is to a green with one large bunker to the right.
No. 11, 436 yards, par 4: This hole typically plays into the wind, and the tee shot must avoid four bunkers placed between 280 yards and 350 yards. The variety of tough hole locations on the long, angled green require good decisions on club selection.
No. 12, 183 yards, par 3: This is the other hole that has not been changed. It is one of the most famous par 3s in the British Open rotation, set among deep dunes and protected by four bunkers.
No. 13, 499 yards, par 4: Unlike the USGA, the R&A has a maximum yardage for a par 4 and this is it, along with No. 6. Five fairway bunkers bring trouble into play no matter which way the wind is blowing, although it is slightly easier at the players' backs. The long iron is required for the second shot to a green framed by the dunes with three bunkers toward the front.
No. 14, 200 yards, par 3: The elevated tee is sheltered from the prevailing wind, which will make club selection tricky. A swale has been created over the green to allow for challenging hole locations at the back of the green. Deep pot bunkers guard the front of the green.
No. 15, 542 yards, par 5: The longest wait for a par 5 in the British Open rotation. There are a total of 15 bunkers over the course of the long, narrow hole that plays into the prevailing wind. The tee has been moved slightly left, with bunkers added in the driving zone. The trees to the left have been removed to open the links look of the hole.
No. 16, 438 yards, par 4: The strength of the hole is the prevailing wind over native grass to the fairway, made even more difficult by a new tee added ahead of 2008 that is 23 yards longer. Now there is an intermediate tee to be used depending on the wind. There are runoff areas on both sides and behind the green, making it important to stay straight. Trees behind the green have been removed to make it a less defined target.
No. 17, 567 yards, par 5: Even the longest hole on the course should be reachable in two with the prevailing wind. First, the tee shot must avoid bunkers at about 300 yards. The hole then turns to the left to a newly built green that is narrow and has two tiers with extreme undulations not usually found on a links course.
No. 18, 473 yards, par 4: Out-of-bounds is on the right on this closing hole, with three bunkers that come into play depending on the strength of the wind. The green sits below the famous white clubhouse, and its narrow entrance is guarded by three bunkers.