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Royal Birkdale Course Guide

Royal Birkdale Course Guide – measured from the Championship Tees.

1st (450 yards Par 4)

A good, testing opening hole, but one that can also help you create some early momentum. Which club to hit off the tee will depend on the strength and direction of the wind, but there’s a strong possibility of being aggressive with a driver. With a bunker in play at 232 yards, a safe tee shot requires a semi-blind second, whereas a driver would carry the trouble and make for an easier approach. Click here to see image…

2nd (421 yards Par 4)

At just over 300 yards to the bunkers, a long iron or five wood may be a preference off the tee when it is downwind. As long as you are laying up short of the fairway bunkers, it’s a big target off the tee. However, the difficulty of this particular hole will be seen when it plays into the wind, whereby if you have to force a driver, those bunkers come into the equation. Playing downwind, a layup and a pitch make it more straightforward but it will play very different and much tougher when it is into the wind. Click here to see image…

3rd (451 yards Par 4)

A superb hole – as long as you hit the drive straight and avoid the bunkers at just over 300 yards. The tee shot will be the toughest part of the hole, leaving an approach to a green that gathers a little off the left edge. The second and third holes are the exact reverse of each other: one’s going to be easy and the other is going to be tough depending on the wind. Click here to see image…

4th (201 yards. Par 3)

A beautifully-framed par three. Interestingly enough, the danger first appears to be all at the front of the green with the bunkers, but anything turned over going long and left could well run into the bushes at the back – especially if it is firm. It is one of those holes you’d be happy to hit into the middle of the green every day and take a chance on holing a putt from there. Click here to see image…

5th (346 yards. Par 4)

A nice risk and reward hole. If you want to take on the dog-leg with the driver, then the green is obviously reachable in calm conditions. But on the other hand, you could find a nasty lie in the rough or greenside bunkers. Click here to see image…

6th (499 yards Par 4)

A tough par four usually played into the prevailing wind. Again, the premium’s on finding the right spot with the tee shot, ideally just carrying the bunker at 282 yards. Yet the likelihood is that you’ll lay up short of or level with the right hand bunker off the tee and play a longer approach into the long, elevated green.  A good solid hole. Click here to see image…

7th (178 yards Par 3)

A really nice par three with a lovely shape to the green, however, the ball can easily spill off the small green into the bunkers. So look to hit the middle of the green and work from there. There is nothing about the hole that is unplayable. Click here to see image…

8th (457 yards Par 4)

A very good and very tough par four. You need to negotiate your drive between the three bunkers on the right and one on the left, but once you’ve done that, you are pretty well set up. However, if you hit any of the fairway bunkers, then effectively it is a penalty shot. It’s a bigger fairway than the previous holes but that’s because the punishment for missing is more severe. It has a big, wide green, so even if you are hitting a long iron in, you should have a chance of setting up a birdie putt. Click here to see image…

9th (414 yards Par 4)

Not a long hole, but a challenging dog-leg. Unless you hit the fairway off the tee it could be a semi-blind second shot to the raised green. You could be aggressive and cut the corner but it is better  to play it safe by getting to the top of the hill and hitting it from there to the green. It depends on the wind but the likelihood is that it is not going to be a driver hole. Click here to see image…

10th (408 yards Par 4)

Another hole that you could attack with a good drive – this time close to the corner of the dog-leg and avoiding the bunkers that are a 250 yard carry. Depending on the strength and direction of the wind, the second shot could be either a lob wedge or up to a five iron to the small green. Click here to see image…

11th (436 yards Par 4)

This hole provides a very tight tee shot in order to miss the well-placed fairway bunkers, especially the new one on the left at 270 yards if played into the wind. The second shot needs to be precise and well placed given the angle at which the green is set. Click here to see image…

12th (184 yards Par 3)

A really good par three with an attractive green setting. The wind is likely to be off the right side, so you need plenty of club and commitment to the shot in order to control the ball into the breeze. Missing the green leaves a tough up and down, especially from the deep front bunkers. Click here to see image…

13th (499 yards Par 4)

Getting a good drive away is vital on such a long par four, although it will generally play downwind. A new bunker has been added on the right of the fairway at 290 yards and there are two others on the left at 324 yards and 350 yards respectively, so it will be a real challenge to avoid the traps. Once the tee shot is negotiated, you are left with a shot to a green surrounded by sand hills. Click here to see image…

14th (201 yards Par 3)

It is difficult to measure the strength and direction of the wind from the tee on this hole due to a sand hill guarding the tee box. The approach to the large green is relatively narrow and pin placements can take the hole up to nearly 220 yards. The new bunkers are well placed so you should look to hit into the middle of the green and go from there. Click here to see image…

15th (544 yards Par 5)

A good strategic par five that requires some thought. The tee has been moved to the left to make the drive tougher. The hole incorporates new bunkering at around 300 yards from the tee and the second shot has also been made tighter. The hole is generally played into the wind and has a green that is more undulating than most on the course. Click here to see image…

16th (439 yards Par 4)

A good hole normally played into the prevailing wind that has been lengthened recently. Tee shots have to be straight, because of the thick rough on the left and some gorse and bunkering on the right. The approach to the green is testing, especially given the number of deep surrounding bunkers and the unpredictable wind factor. Click here to see image…

17th (572 yards Par 5)

This is an obvious birdie opportunity as it is normally played downwind. If you can hit a good drive past the sand hill on the left and avoid the new bunkers on the right, then you give yourself a good chance of reaching the green and picking up a shot. But if you don’t hit a good drive, then it can be a very dangerous hole. The new green is undulating. Click here to see image…

18th (473 yards Par 4)

A terrific finishing hole off the new Championship tee, with the wind normally at your back. A tight fairway means either a driver or a three wood is needed to avoid the bunker and out-of-bounds on the right and a new bunker on the left at 300 yards. Distance control on the approach shot is key, as you need to avoid the bunkers that guard the front of the green, but then avoid going too long and facing a tricky up and down in front of the famous clubhouse. Click here to see image…

 

 

TOTAL: 7,171 YARDS PAR 70

 

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