2010 Open Championship
St. Andrews Old Course
7,305 Yards, Par 72
The Open Championship returns to the home of golf and St. Andrews as the Old Course plays host to the 139th British Open. For the 28th time, the world’s oldest and most revered course will challenge today’s top players where golf has been played for over 600 years. I have provided some online site links throughout this article to better assist you in your search for information throughout the Open Championship. You can check out past history, results, tee times, course information and more at the official site of the Open Championship.
I’ve been watching and wagering on the Open Championship for over 20 years and had great success providing my selections as a public handicapper since 2004. Over the past six years, I’ve recorded a documented match-up record of 21-11 (+13.70 units) including 5-1 on our top-rated 20* Big Drive selections. Last year at Turnberry we went a perfect 6-0 on our head-to-head 72-hole match-up selections. If you decide to sign up for my selections this season (Sportsmemo.com), you’ll get yet another top-rated play on a golfer that has provided us more profit than any other in the Open Championship. I expect he’ll be a contender again this year and look forward to another great week battling the wind, weather and elements at St. Andrews.
I personally made the trip to Scotland in 1994 and had an experience of a lifetime with 16 ‘Fairway friends’. We played St. Andrews old and new course, Turnberry, Carnoustie, Muirfield, Royal Troon, and Prestwick among others. I’ve included a picture below as we enjoyed some stories and drinks at the 19th hole.
As you watch the action and golf at St. Andrews, know that ‘the road hole’ at no. 17 is getting much discussion with the change and tee being moved back an additional 40 yards. If you have not seen this hole before, the tee shot is played over a hotel to a narrow fairway (I snap hooked mine way left). During the 2005 Open Championship at St. Andrews, hole no. 17 played as the most difficult with a stroke average of 4.63. It was also the toughest hole at the 2000 Open with a stroke average of 4.71. The next toughest holes in order were 13, 4, 2, 11, 15 and 16. The closing hole no. 18 actually played as the easiest stroke hole with a average score of 3.5, and you may recall that was the last Open Championship for the great Jack Nicklaus.
St. Andrews Old Course is a par 72, but features just two par 5 and two par 3 holes. The two par 5’s will play as the next easiest holes along with the short par 4 ninth hole. Most holes have duel fairways, and the course heads straight outward for the opening seven holes and then turns back for the closing stretch starting at hole no. 12. Wind patterns, direction changes and the importance of ball control and trajectory force players to really think their way around the course and steer clear of the penal bunkers. The ball will really roll on the firm terrain, yet rain and wet conditions along with potential stronger winds over the weekend will take the edge off the firmness of the course.
You need to control trajectory more at these sorts of courses as the wind dictates that. Despite some wider fairways and landing areas at St. Andrews, players must still be able to place the ball correctly and control their golf ball both through the air and along the ground. The key off the tee at St. Andrews is to keep your ball towards the right side of the fairway for better entrance and scoring into most greens. Tides affect the winds at St. Andrews. Tee times can be effected by conditions, but can be difficult to predict. The greens at St. Andrews are not heavily contoured, but very big and quite flat. There are seven shared greens on the old course, and the speed of the greens is slower. Lag putting is a key component with 100+ foot putts not uncommon. I personally 3-putted my first hole in Scotland playing at Turnberry, as I left about a 50-foot putt nearly 12 feet short. I remember by caddie saying ‘hit it good’ before I putted and ‘go’ after I stroked it…! Thus, my first lesson in links golf as a learning American lad.
Here’s a hole by hole preview of the Old Course at St. Andrews. I’ve read and reviewed many player quotes and interviews and do believe experience plays a key role in succeeding in the Open Championship. However, many European players including the younger rising stars have been playing these style golf courses most their lives and are familiar with the weather and shots to succeed. In recent years, the Dunhill Links Championship has been played annually at St. Andrews and a few other courses in Scotland, adding another advantage to many players in the field more familiar with the course and conditions.
I rely much less on statistical profiles at the British Open and focus more on player profiles in regard to links style golf, wind and changing weather, and those players I can not only count on mentally but others that tend to struggle in tougher conditions. The ability to be patience and handle adversity is required. Yet with the elements and quirky bounces there can be some strange shots and circumstances that arise. Most PGA Tour courses are perfectly prepared and manicured and any problems are laid out in front of you. At the Open Championship it’s different. The shot angles and weather can really play havoc with ball striking, spin and trajectory, and players can seemingly hit a good shot or play as planned but still find trouble. Being more proficient in hitting run shots into the greens and keeping the ball below the wind with controlled trajectory will assist players looking to score and not scramble. Much of modern golf is very ordered, but at the Open Championship you can expect to see more strange shots and shaky players and putts. A near perfect shot to a planned spot can turn into trouble with a poor bounce off a hump or bump, and that’s what makes the Open Championship so endearing to many as players strategize and scramble their way around and battle the elements along with the golf course.
Best wishes as you battle the elements and bookmaker in your pursuit of the green.