In reverse order from 2015, we take a look at the opening holes from the Open Championship rota
St. Andrews – 2015
Probably the most straightforward of the Open Championship opening holes, the 376 yard 1st hole, appropriately named ‘Burn’, isn’t without its dangers despite the enormous fairway. In addition to the Swilcan Burn, a tee shot leaking right could go out of bounds. 2010 winner Louis Oosthuizen made par here whilst romping home to a seven-shot victory.
Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) – 2014
A recently redesigned green complex built in 2010 adds menace to this 458-yard opener named ‘Royal’. Most players will play a driver to help their approach shot into what is now a tough target with a long iron in hand. In 2014, Rory McIlroy started with a par here in his final round. Plays as the 17th for the members.
Muirfield – 2013
Phil Mickelson made par on this 447-yard par 4 on his way to a three-shot victory over Henrik Stenson in 2013. Playing into the prevailing wind, there are seven bunkers to avoid on the opening hole of what was recently voted #1 on our Top 100 Courses list.
Royal Lytham & St Annes – 2012
The only course on the Open rota to start with a par 3. Most amateurs would shudder at the thought of the first hit of the day being with a long iron, but for the world’s best it’s less of an issue with a good warm up and mid-iron in hand. 205 yards in 2012, it caught out winner Ernie Els who bogeyed before picking up three shots during the rest of his final round. Adam Scott, who ended his tournament tragically with four bogeys to lose out by one, started with a 2.
Royal St. Georges – 2011
Frontrunners Darren Clarke and Phil Mickelson both birdied this 444-yard par 4 in their final rounds before the former won by three shots. The wide green slopes away from the golfer making for a difficult approach shot after anything less than a long and straight tee shot.
Turnberry – 2009
The three main contenders all made par on ‘Ailsa Craig’ at the start of their rounds in 2009. The main defence of this 354-yard par 4 comes in the form of nine bunkers, the five fairway traps being particularly penal.
Royal Birkdale – 2008
Padraig Harrington’s three best rounds of the week all included a par at the 450-yard par 4 first hole. Seen as one of the toughest holes on the course, this brutal starter must rank as one of the hardest on the Open rota. You’ll need a long drive to aid an approach into a front-to-back sloping green. In an incredibly difficult week for the world’s best, Harrington defended the Claret Jug by finishing at 3 over par, four clear of second placed Ian Poulter.
Carnoustie – 2007
Considering the difficulty of this beautiful course, the opening hole, ‘Cup’, is relatively gentle. A wide fairway feeds the ball down the right hand side leaving a partly blind approach into the green. The 406-yard par 4 wasn’t a problem for most of the contenders in the 2007 Championship.
Royal Troon – 2004
Similar to Els in 2012, eventual winner Todd Hamilton bogeyed the first hole of his final round before rallying and eventually defeating the South African in a four-hole playoff. Running adjacent to the sea, it is not unusual to see seals basking on the reef to the right hand side. Hence, the 370-yard par 4 is called ‘Seal’.