Royal St. George’s, hole-by-hole
A hole-by-hole look at Royal St. George’s, site of the 140th British Open from July 14-17:
No. 1, 444 yards, par 4: The opening tee shot is so demanding that only 30 percent of the field hit the fairway in 2003, and Tiger Woods never found his drive in the first round. The fairway since has been widened by 12 yards. The carry over a valley called ”The Kitchen” is 250 yards. The approach must avoid three bunkers front and left of a large green.
No. 2, 417 yards, par 4: The hole moves from right to left toward the coast. Two bunkers on the inside corner of the dogleg require a 250-yard carry, giving players an option of trying to shorten the hole. The approach is a short iron to a raised green, and anything missing the target will run away from the putting surface and leave a delicate pitch.
No. 3, 240 yards, par 3: A new tee added 30 yards to the championship tees. Dunes to the right and behind the green will push balls onto a two-tiered putting surface. The green is 43 yards deep, and par is difficult with a front hole location. This was the third-hardest hole in 1993, but its rank was only 13th in 2003.
No. 4, 495 yards, par 4: This hole is two yards shorter, yet now plays as a par 4 for this Open. The tee shot is intimidating because of a towering bunker set into a 50-foot hill to the right. Once in play, the approach must get over a deep depression in the front-left quadrant of the green. Anything long brings the out-of-bounds fence into play. The average score in 2003 was 4.6.
No. 5, 419 yards, par 4: This hole bends sharply to the left, with five bunkers and several dune ridges guarding the left side and often leaving a blind approach. The farthest dune is 320 yards from the tee. With the wind at their backs, several players hit driver over the dune. More birdies were made, however, by playing conservatively off the tee. There are no bunkers around the relatively flat green.
No. 6, 178 yards, par 3: The long, two-tiered green is set at a 45-degree angle from the tee. The green is surrounded by four bunkers that collect any shot that misses the putting surface.
No. 7, 564 yards, par 5: This ranked as the easiest hole in 2003, although a new tee adds 32 yards. The crest of a hill, which hides the fairway from view, is 280 yards from the tee, and a bad bounce can send the ball into the rough. The fairway turns to the left toward a green with two bunkers to the right and to the left. There were 20 eagles in 2003, and the hole played to an average of 4.52.
No. 8, 453 yards, par 4: This played as the most difficult hole in 2003, and it starts with a daunting tee shot uphill and usually into the wind. The approach can be blind, over 80 yards of rough to an undulating green. Two fairway bunkers on the right force tee shots to the left side, making the approach slightly longer. There are bunkers short and left, and to the right of the green.
No. 9, 412 yards, par 4: The tee has been shifted to the left and lengthened 24 yards to help improve visibility of the fairway. A bunker on the right called ”The Corsets” tightens the landing area, and mounds in the fairways can send tee shots out of the short grass. The best approach is from the right, playing away from the indentation to the right of the undulating green that is guarded by four bunkers.
No. 10, 415 yards, par 4: The hole is defined by an elevated green that falls away sharply on all sides. The easier up-and-down will come from short of the green. Two small bunkers to the left and one large bunker to the right collect anything that misses the green. While relatively short, this hole ranked sixth-hardest in 2003.
No. 11, 243 yards, par 3: The longest of the par 3s played as the most difficult of the short holes in 2003, although a prevailing wind should mean a mid-iron for most players to a large green. Five bunkers guard the left and right corners of the putting surface. The green is one of the most difficult to read on the course.
No. 12, 381 yards, par 4: The shortest of the par 4s played as the easiest par 4 in 2003, although it can cause problems. The dogleg right hides eight bunkers that catch any tee shot struck too aggressively. The green can be difficult when putting from the wrong spot. Tiger Woods had a four-putt in the second round the last time here.
No. 13, 459 yards, par 4: The narrow fairway is littered with seven bunkers that start pinching the fairway at about 260 yards off the tee. The approach must be exact because of a ridge that runs the length of the 40-yard green, and the putting surface is protected by bunkers in front on the left and right. An out-of-bounds fence is just beyond the green.
No. 14, 547 yards, par 5: The out-of-bounds fence runs down the right side of the fairway, and Davis Love III caught an enormous break in 2003 when his tee shot bounced off a white stake. Players also have to deal with ”The Suez Canal” that crosses the fairway at about 330 yards. The approach has been softened slightly, but there is risk going for the green in two because of two bunkers protecting the left side of a green the drops away on the right toward the out-of-bounds fence.
No. 15, 496 yards, par 4: A brutal finish starts here — three of the last four holes were ranked no worse than No. 5 in difficulty. The tee shot must avoid five punishing fairway bunkers, leaving an approach to a relatively small green that must be reached on the fly to avoid three bunkers across the entrance of the putting surface. The green falls away to the right.
No. 16, 163 yards, par 3: This hole might forever be known for costing Thomas Bjorn the title in 2003, when he took three shots to escape a bunker right of the green. It’s supposed to be a brief respite from the closing stretch, but the green is surrounded by seven bunkers. This still played as the easiest of the par 3s in 2003.
No. 17, 426 yards, par 4: This is one of the toughest fairways to find because of the severe humps and swales that often send tee shots into the rough. The fairway has been widened by about six yards for this year’s championship. The approach is to a green that sits on a plateau and is protected by bunkers left and right. Anything short will roll back off the green and leave a challenging chip.
No. 18, 459 yards, par 4: The hole is about the same distance as 2003, although it has been revamped. The fairway has been moved to the right, and there are more bunkers in the landing areas. The three bunkers that once crossed the fairway are now two, and they have been raised. The bunker short and left of the green has been moved closer to the putting surface.