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Royal St George Course Guide

Hole 1 – 442 yards, par 4

A difficult opener requiring a well struck drive over a valley known as “The Kitchen” – a carry of over 250 yards from the championship tee – favouring the flatter left side of the fairway. The wide green, sloping away from the player and with bunkers stretching across its front, can only be held with a high, spinning second shot. Those playing safe often aim for the gulley to the right. Click here to see image…

Hole 2 – 426 yards, par 4

Bunkers at the corner of the right to left dog leg draw in any shots within a few yards of them. They can be carried by strong players, but the ball usually finishes further left than one thinks and even playing well right to avoid the sand should leave just a short iron to a raised green. Any approach drifting left or right or falling short will run into hollows and leave a tricky pitch back. Play for the front of the green to leave an uphill putt – there can be a sharp break on anything from above the hole. Click here to see image…

Hole 3 – 239 yards, par 3

Originally played as a blind hole over the hill to the right of the present green, this was lengthened by 30 yards for the 2011 Open. Mounds cradle the green and will often direct balls from the right back onto a two-tiered putting surface.  Putts from the upper level to a pin at the bottom require great touch and judgement of line. Statistically it is one of the most difficult Open holes despite being the only Par 3 on any Open Championship course without a bunker. Click here to see image…

Hole 4 – 496 yards, par 4

One of the great championship holes, the fourth is an intimidating prospect. A towering bunker, perhaps the tallest in Britain, and with a long back, faces the driver, and attempts to skirt it by aiming left often run further left into trouble. Once the fairway has been found, approaches that can range from pitches to a full 3 wood have to contend with a green cut at an angle. Shots run in from the left, and balls right of centre will fall off on the other side. Accurate clubbing is required – anything short is caught by a Valley of Sin with a six foot climb to the flag that makes two-putting a rarity, but out-of-bounds is only three paces over the back. Click here to see image…

Hole 5 – 416 yards, par 4

The first sight of the sea.  Three bunkers guard the left of the fairway, which is divided by a band of dune-flanked rough dotted with more sand.  Originally the sixth tee, a small plateau known as Campbell’s Table, after a perfect drive into a gale by the American Walker Cupper Bill Campbell in the 1967 match, is the target, leaving a clear line to the green, but it is elusive and shrugs off many tee shots to a lower level on the right. It was from the right hand rough, his ball having come to rest inside a broken bottle, that Harry Bradshaw attempted to play without taking relief, a decision that lost him the 1949 Open to Bobby Locke. The second shot can range from a short iron to a wood over or between the dunes to a long bunker-less green that slopes from the right. Although the furthest mound is 320 yards from the tee, many Open competitors take on the carry; but thanks to recently created moguls down the right hand side of the second part of the fairway, more birdies are made by those playing short of the sand ridge. Click here to see image…

Hole 6 – 176 yards, par 3

The Maiden, named after the shape of the towering dunes surrounding it. The long two-tiered green, set at an angle to the tee, can be tricky if a shot finds the wrong level. Bunkers surrounding the putting surface await anything pulled, pushed, or under-clubbed. Click here to see image…

Hole 7 – 573 yards, par 5

The first of only two Par fives, the crest of the hill which hides the fairway from view is almost 280 yards away from the back tee. The ideal line is over its left side, using the left to right slope at driving length and avoiding bunkers on the right. The hole turns slightly left for a second shot that can offer rich rewards: almost all of the eagles achieved during Open Championships at Sandwich are made here. Click here to see image…

Hole 8 – 457 yards, par 4

Once a Par 3, this is now a tough test requiring an accurate uphill drive. Two bunkers collect anything centre-right, but the best line is left for a clear downhill second over 80 yards of rough to a long, deceptively contoured green nestling in the sand hills. One of the fastest on the course, it is bisected by a ridge and bunkers eat into its front corners. This is always the most difficult Open hole. Click here to see image…

Hole 9 – 410 yards, par 4

A relatively short hole, but with a demanding second shot to a distinctive green. Originally played  along the ridge that extends down its right hand side, the fairway now snakes between dunes which can guide off-line drives back to the short grass.  Approaches will run in from the right but can be carried away by a drop-off and anything left is likely to end in one of two deep bunkers or face the most delicate of pitches. The green is long and undulating, with breaks of up to eight feet. Click here to see image…

Hole 10 – 412 yards, par 4

Falling away sharply on all sides, the elevated green sits on the horizon, making second shots difficult to judge. Drives should favour the left side of the fairway, which is protected by a solitary bunker. The drop-off behind the green is especially severe and a second shot that is not kept right of centre is likely to run into one of the two deep and greedy bunkers left, so a tactical play is often to go for the front apron – Walter Hagen made his par that way in all four rounds of the 1928 Open – but be just a little short and the ball can run down the hill to leave a difficult pitch from a tight lie over sand. There are often more sixes or worse here in championships than on the Par 5 seventh: Tom Kite was one victim, going from bunker to bunker to destroy his Open chances when leading in 1985. Click here to see image…

Hole 11 – 242 yards, par 3

The green of what was originally played from behind the 10th as a Par 4 looks inviting but shots have to be precisely targeted with length at a premium – the right to left slope is likely to feed anything a little short into sand; a little too much and a gully with a sticky bank beyond await at the back. Running up a tier with a significant break, putts are notoriously difficult to read. Click here to see image…

Hole 12 – 379 yards, par 4

The shortest par 4 on the course, but certainly not the easiest. Drives which cannot crest a ridge that bisects the hole are gathered into two bunkers at the corner of the right angled fairway. Taking a line just right of the bunker on the opposite side may seem too far left, but the shape of the hole is deceptive. More sand catches any short approaches. Second shots played right of the flag will usually run towards the hole. Click here to see image…

Hole 13 – 457 yards, par 4

The finishing holes at Sandwich are some of the hardest anywhere, and they begin with this long Par 4. Four bunkers at driving length can be avoided by a straight or drawn tee shot on the line of the right edge of Prince’s Lodge.  More trouble threatens the second shot, usually with a long club: three bunkers down the left can catch second shots when the wind is against, any under-hit approach left of centre will be swept left into one of the greenside bunkers, and a ridge running the length of the 40-yard green can make for hazardous chipping and putting from the wrong side. It is very difficult to get close if the pin is left of the ridge, which shrugs shots away from the hole and down to the apron. The right half is easier, gathering the ball down a long valley. The green, with the out-of-bounds fence separating Royal St George’s from Prince’s just beyond, marks the furthest point from the clubhouse. Click here to see image…

Hole 14 – 545 yards, par 5

The wind plays a large part here: the hole can require anything from a rescue club off the tee and a mid iron to three full woods. Safe drives favour the left of the wide, flat fairway and second shots should skirt the narrow strip between out of bounds and two centrally placed bunkers or face an approach from the left over bunkers to a two tier, turbulent green running towards a stream just feet beyond and falling away at the back. Click here to see image…

Hole 15 – 493 yards, par 4

A classic hole and from the back tees the longest Par 4 on the course. Even a big drive between five bunkers leaves a challenging carry, often with a long club, over cross bunkers to a relatively small, sharply contoured green that falls away to the right. Shots missing on the left face a difficult pitch over a bank. The other side is safer, but the ball must be run up a steep slope to a flag often only a few feet beyond. Click here to see image…

Hole 16 – 161 yards, par 3

Thomas Bjorn’s hope of lifting the Claret Jug in 2003 evaporated when he took three to get out of the sand on the right, a magnet even for balls landing several feet from the fringe. It was also here, in the 1967 Dunlop Masters, that Tony Jacklin made the first televised hole in one. The bunker-ringed green, which slopes down from the back, is wide and three clubs deep, and it is easy to leave a 50 foot putt. Click here to see image…

Hole 17 – 424 yards, par 4

Although it is littered with swales and humps, a flat draw following the line of the dogleg fairway will produce good results.  The green, often a foot faster than others on the course, is protected by bunkers left and right and sits on a plateau with a false front, so anything under-hit will roll back. Recovering from an over-strong approach is even harder unless the pin is on the front of the green. Click here to see image…

Hole 18 – 456 yards, par 4

Extensively remodelling has made perhaps the toughest finishing hole on the Open rota even harder. The fairway has been moved a few yards to flatter ground on the right, but a deep greenside bunker comes into play for shots from that side and two new bunkers lie in wait for drives seeking to leave the better line in from the left.  The green was originally just beyond the cross bunkers that have to be carried with second shots, but was moved back a full 120 yards in 1908. Fronted by a shallow ridge, it slopes from the right and sweeps anything left of centre into a dip from which George Duncan marred a great final round to miss the chance of tying for the 1922 Open. 63 years later, Sandy Lyle failed to make it up the hill from Duncan’s Hollow but got down in two more to clinch the Championship. Click here to see image…

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