Welcome to Justin Rose’s exclusive guide to Royal Birkdale. Ten years after England’s finest Major prospect first broke onto the scene with that magical 4th place finish, Rose returned to Birkdale earlier this year with GM in tow. Here he gives his personal view on how he will look to play all 18 holes.

1st

Par 4

Championship tee – 450 yards

Medal Tee – 450 yards

Hole number one at Royal Birkdale requires something like a low 2-iron or maybe even a rescue off the tee, leaving yourself about 190 yards to the front of the green but obviously avoiding the bunker that sits on the corner of the dog leg on the left hand side. Really you’re just trying to hit the shot into the middle of the green there give yourself a nice solid opening par, and the green generally runs from the front right to the back left.

2nd

Par 4

Championship tee – 421 yards

Medal tee – 418 yards

The second hole, again depending on the prevailing wind, is a tee shot where it’s maybe a 2-iron if there is not much wind or a low 3-wood. You want to hit it about 260 yards off the tee and avoid the bunkers that are on the right hand side that sit at about 290/300 yards out. From there you want to hit a nice approach shot as the greens are relatively small at Birkdale so a middle of the green shot is good and if the pins are at the back then you definitely want to be short of the hole. Over the back of that green is really big trouble so again its another strategy hole – your driving the ball short of a couple of bunkers and hitting it into the middle of the green.

3rd

Par 4

Championship tee – 451 Yards

Medal Tee – 406 yards

The third hole is a long par 4 where they have put the tee back and it’s a good opportunity to hit your driver for the first time. So for me on that hole I am probably going to hit my Tour Burner Driver which is probably going to be about a 290 club for me, which is perfect it just leaves me short of the bunkers at about 310 yards off the tee. From there it’s a pretty long, fairly narrow green so clubbing is essential on this hole. You are going to be left with a 7-iron into the green so two good shots could set up a birdie opportunity here.

4th

Par 3

Championship tee – 201 yards

Medal tee – 200 yards

The 4th hole is a pretty straight forward par 3. There is a little tree behind the green that I use as an aiming point. For me this hole is about avoiding the left hand side, there are some bunkers, humps and hollows on the left side if you do pull your iron shot. It’s probably about a 5-iron from 195 yards into the middle of the green.

5th

Par 4

Championship tee – 346 yards

Medal tee – 343 yards

The 5th hole I would regard as a birdie opportunity. It’s a relatively conservative shot off the tee, about a 4-iron up the right hand side of the fairway which should leave me one of my Z-TP wedges into the green probably anything from a little pitching wedge to a sand wedge in there so really this is realistically a birdie opportunity. Although it’s a fairly sloping green I think there are a couple of pin placements you will be able to really attack and hopefully make a 3.

6th

Par 4

Championship tee – 499 yards

Medal tee – 488 yards

The 6th hole is one of the longest,toughest par 4’s on the golf course – it’s normally a par 5 for members but the turn it into a par 4 for The Open Championship. There is a really big bunker on the right hand side of the fairway that you have to avoid at all costs. I have been hitting a 3-wood off this hole to come up just short of the bunker and except that I am going to have a really long approach in with a either a 2-iron or a Rescue club into the green here. This is a kind of hole that if you make four 4’s your ecstatic but probably par for the week on this hole will be a total of 18 shots. It plays about a par 4 ½

7th

Par 3

Championship tee – 178 yards

Medal tee – 177 yards

The 7th hole is a nice par 3 surrounded by bunkers and for me it plays a little bit downhill and depending on the wind it’s a short to medium iron in there something around a 7-iron. No matter where they put the pin on the green a middle of the green shot is going to serve you well for any pin placement and if your fortunate enough to make a putt that’s how your going to make your birdie there.

8th

Par 4

Championship tee – 457 yards

Medal tee – 413 yards

The 8th hole is a really demanding par 4, well bunkered from the tee. Into the wind I think it’s a really strong par 4. Driver, 5-iron and you really need to keep the ball down which is I think something that added dimension to my game this year. With the new TaylorMade Red LDP ball I have got the ability to keep the ball down which I think is only going to help in windy conditions. Down wind you need to hit 3-wood off the tee to avoid running out into the bunkers that are on your aiming line through the end of the fairways. So, a very strategic hole and depending on the different wind directions probably different clubs from the tee, driver or 3-wood.

9th

Par 4

Championship tee – 414 yards

Medal tee – 410 yards

The 9th hole is a blind tee shot where you’re generally hitting a 3-wood or a Rescue onto the top of the fairway and then you have probably got a 7 or 8-iron into a fairly large green, which generally slopes from left to right. On the 9th hole I think the blind tee shot is the hardest part of the hole, you need to pick a good line in the distance and trust it.

10th

Par 4

Championship tee – 408 yards

Medal tee – 408 yards

The 10th hole is a really well bunkered short par 4. It’s a hole where you hit a 2-iron or a 3-iron off the tee and chase it down the fairway and from there you have got probably an 8 or 9-iron into the green it’s a pretty small and slopes back to front. So, the one thing I might be thinking about is just keeping the ball below the hole and trying to give myself a realistic birdie opportunity.

11th

Par 4

Championship tee – 436 yards

Medal tee – 378 yards

The 11th hole is a really good strategic hole. Depending on the wind, you have two options on this hole you can either hit your driver and challenge the bunker on the left hand side and get down to about a 9-iron from the green or you hit a 3 wood or 2-iron from the tee and leave yourself 6 or 7-iron into the green. It’s a pretty straight forward hole unless they start tucking the pin on the right hand side of the green which brings a swail into play. This is a hole you probably need to respect a little bit and play for par and if you manage to make a putt that’ll be a bonus.

12th

Par 3

Championship tee – 184 yards

Medal tee – 181 yards

The 12th hole is probably the best par 3 on the golf course and actually one of the best par 3’s in the world. It’s beautifully framed by mounding and when the crowd sit on top of the hill it really is a beautiful site. The green is very narrow in the front and it has two deep bunkers that guard the front of the green. The bunkers play twice as big as they are because all the ground around the bunkers funnels the ball back into them. So this again is a very small green, distance control is paramount here and if you hit it into the middle of the green, you have a realistic birdie opportunity to any flag.

13th

Par 4

Championship tee – 499 yards

Medal tee – 433 yards

The 13th hole sets up really well as a long 500 yard par 4. The prevailing wind is behind you so hopefully it won’t play that long. It suits a fade from the tee which is the shot that I feel most comfortable with my Tour Burner Driver. From there you have a long to medium iron into a green that is well guarded at the front and maybe if you can fly the ball onto the front edge its going to release into the middle of the green and again it’s a hole you want to respect and walk off with par.

14th

Par 3

Championship tee – 201 yards

Medal tee – 199 yards

The 14th hole is a really nice par 3 well bunkered and anything that you hit left runs off the left hand side and gets swallowed up by a bunker, so another strategic hole well bunkered and again all I am looking for on this hole is the middle of the green. It’s probably going to be playing 5 or 6 yards downhill which is half a club downhill and you are probably looking at a 5 or 6-iron to this green.

15th

Par 5

Championship tee – 544 yards

Medal tee – 544 yards

The 15th hole is the first par 5 you play on the golf course which is very unusual for a lot of golf courses. With the right wind direction it is a very realistic birdie opportunity. Down wind you want to try and challenge the bunkers on the left hand side and you want to try and carry them and get a firm kick and leave yourself something like a 2 or 3-iron into the green. But into the wind those bunkers that your challenging really become the bunkers in play so you want to try and feed your drive down the right hand side. If the wind is very strong and you miss the fairway you’re really going to have a tough time getting passed the bunkers that leave you about 150 yards to the front of the green. But if you put the ball in play you can then lay up over the second set of bunkers and leave yourself 75 or 80 yards to the front of the green which would give you a realistic birdie opportunity.

16th

Par 4

Championship tee – 439 yards

Medal tee – 370 yards

The 16th hole again suits a little bit of a left to right tee shot which again I am very comfortable with and from there it’s probably a 6, 7 or 8-iron into a green where you would need to carry the ball right into the into the middle of. If you come up short with your second shot the ball has a tendency to run back down the front of the green and leave a very difficult up and down.

17th

Par 5

Championship tee – 572 yards

Medal tee – 527 yards

The 17th is quite a tight driving hole, especially into the wind. There is huge bank on the right hand side which you need to avoid at all costs. Downwind the fairway plays a lot wider than it does into the wind as it opens up on the right hand side and it does give you the opportunity to go for the green in two. They have completely redesigned the green on 17 and it has a lot of humps and hollows and swails, which can actually feed your ball to the hole. Again if you get on the wrong side of the swail your going to have a very tough up and down to make your birdie. Come the end of the championship it’s a hole that could provide a lot of drama.

18th

Par 4

Championship tee – 473 yards

Medal tee – 472 yards

18 is a hole that suits a little bit of fade from the tee. You can aim at the bunker that is out at about 300 yards from the tee and just work the ball from the left back into the middle of the fairway. I think this hole could play anything from a driver off the tee to maybe a 2-iron depending on the wind direction . Once you have hit the fairway the green gets wider as you play it. Anything landing in the middle of the green is a much wider target than anything landing short and you have got a very small landing area to land the ball into. Again it’s a hole that needs a lot of respect and par is a good score on 18 to hopefully win The Championship.