Hoylake: The Pro's View: Course to put the wind up the ill-prepared

John Heggarty, The Royal Liverpool head pro takes Paul Trow on a tour of 'a breeder of mighty champions'
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The Independent Online

In the 39 years since Hoylake last hosted The Open it has undergone many modifications. Exactly 263 yards have been added to the 6,995-yard layout on which Roberto de Vicenzo triumphed in 1967. The members' 17th and 18th holes will be the first and second at The Open, so the par-five 16th will provide a dramatic finish - a chance for redemption but also the potential for disaster with out of bounds all the way down the right.

Laid out in 1869-71, Hoylake had a facelift in the 1920s when Harry Colt rebuilt the four beachside holes from the ninth (to play as the 11th for The Open). More recently, Donald Steel made changes so it could be an Open venue again. Bernard Darwin's observation half a century ago - "Hoylake, blown upon by mighty winds, breeder of mighty champions" - is still valid. Whoever conquers the undulating greens, 96 bunkers and tight, meandering fairways must also beat varying winds over the four days.

Hole No 1 - Royal Par 4, 454 yards

Tough start into the wind, but in prevailing wind most drives will fly a steep bunker on left corner of a right-to-left dogleg for wedge approach, avoiding three bunkers on right. Traps left and right protect front of long green; run-off swales gather miscues.

Hole No 2 - Stand Par 4, 436 yards

This left-to-right dogleg has a narrow landing area due to bunkers left and right at driving distance. Laying up at 240 yards to avoid big bunker on left brings long second through a cross-wind to green sloping left and guarded by cleverly placed bunkers and swales.

Hole No 3 - Course Par 4, 429 yards

Bunkerless hole doglegs right at 300 yards. Accuracy and nerve needed. Good drives finish close to out of bounds on right. Commitment for approach to flattish green too, also tight to out of bounds. Baling out into swale left of green leaves awkward chip.

Hole No 4 - Road Par 4, 372 yards

Two new bunkers left of fairway between 275-320 yards swallow wayward tee shots to spoil an obvious birdie chance. Long-iron lay-up creates best approach angle for wedge with enough spin to hold a green falling away from front to back. Fairway runs at different angle to original.

Hole No 5 - Long Par 5, 528 yards

Clearing thick gorse and new bunker guarding corner of right-to-left dogleg - a carry of 285 yards - should set up second shot to two-tier green guarded left by three pot bunkers. In a south-westerly, drives must be threaded between gorse and two bunkers on right of fairway.

Hole No 6 - New Par 3, 202 yards

Normally played into a crosswind, with deep bunkers and run-offs punishing anything not perfectly struck. It is best to take one more club and aim at front-right half of green over cavernous bunker and let natural land shape gather ball. Missing left leaves awkward chip.

Hole No 7 - Telegraph Par 4, 453 yards

A gentle dogleg to right has been made harder by two new bunkers on right. Boldness from tee required as right remains best spot from which to attack green. Tee shots down left leave tricky app-roach across two small pot bunkers intruding into front of green.

Hole No 8 - Briars Par 4, 423 yards

A blind tee shot slightly left of the marker post over an out-of-bounds orchard must carry 190 yards to reach fairway to set up medium-iron to flattish green. New bunker on right threatens deliberate lay-up. Small extension to left of green provides more potential pin positions.

Hole No 9 - Dowie Par 3, 198 yards

Real difficulties if missed either left or right. Long, narrow green at end of what seems like funnel will try the patience. Bunkers left and right (and low dunes on right) protect front of green. Further back, severe slopes can throw ball into complex of swales beyond.

Hole No 10 - Far Par 5, 534 yards

The out of bounds down left will be less of a factor than mounds and hollows near where most tee shots will land. The defining feature is solitary bunker that protects front-right of green - very findable due to false front, off which approaches invariably roll back, and very deep!

Hole No 11 - Punch Bowl Par 4, 393 yards

Take in distant Welsh hills across Dee Estuary and admire Colt's contribution. With wind likely to help, good drives hit down left side of rolling fairway could finish close to green. But fairway is narrow, and a green sloping from front to back can be hard to hold.

Hole No 12 - Dee Par 4, 448 yards

A mound conceals a bunker designed to catch those trying to cut corner of right-to-left dogleg. Four bunkers on right lurk in a line 275-330 yards from tee, and adverse camber of fairway can throw ball perilously close to them. Raised, sloping green does not yield many single putts.

Hole No 13 - Alps Par 3, 193 yards

A new, higher tee adds to difficulty of playing mid-to-long-iron over mounds guarding front-left side of long, slender green that slopes away. More room on left side of green than seems the case from tee, but miss it left and the recovery shot could be impossible.

Hole No 15 - Rushes Par 3, 161 yards

Judgement of distance is key to classic par-three that proves you do not need 200-plus yards for tough test of shot-making. Tee nestles into dunes with sweeping view not only down to narrow green surrounded by thick rough and five pot bunkers, but across the links to distant clubhouse.

Hole No 16 - Field Par 5, 554 yards

The pros will drill drives down left towards distant fairway bunkers to leave long-iron or fairway wood to green. But aggressive approach is risky as landing area is narrow - revetted bunkers protect front and left of green and deep grassy hollow on right is treacherous.

Hole No 17 - Lake Par 4, 459 yards

The 16th and 17th run parallel, so a following wind on one will mean headwind on the other. Avoiding bunkers that protect both sides of the fairway is all-important. Two-tier "MacKenzie" green measures 40 yards from front to back. Players will aim to land on the front and chase ball up the slope.