The Open For The Ages
Statistics from The Old Course
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St Andrews
Gary Player at St Andrews

In the history of The Open, no venue has held more Championships than The Old Course at St Andrews.

The home of golf has held golf's original major a record 29 times, first doing so in 1873 and most recently in 2015.

In celebration of The Open For The Ages, in association with NTT DATA, which will feature real archive footage from St Andrews, we take a look at some intriguing statistics relating to Opens at The Old Course over the years.

Similarity in Yardage

One of the most remarkable aspects of The Old Course is its similarity today to its earliest days staging The Open.

From back when Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris graced the fairways through to the likes of Sam Snead, Peter Thomson, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods, the course has stayed much the same.

In the nine Opens at St Andrews between 1955 and 1995, the yardage of The Old Course was always within 15 yards of 6,936 yards.

From 1978 until 1995, the course was exactly 6,933 yards, three yards shorter than it was in 1955. As driving distance increased, the first time St Andrews measured over 7,000 yards, at 7,115, was for The 129th Open in 2000.

Since then the yardage has increased further, with the course for The Open in 2015 measuring 7,297 yards. Still, the course stands only 350 yards longer than it did nearly a century ago.

Lower Scores

St Andrews is a fascinating venue that provides both the possibility of shooting a low score, and the genuine threat of a painful score, with much depending on Mother Nature.

Rory McIlroy’s 63 in the first round in 2010, followed by his second-round 80, is a prime example of such variation, and is the largest difference between two successive rounds in the history of The Open at St Andrews.

On the whole, scores have generally got lower over time at The Old Course, as they have in golf more generally. In 2015, for instance, there were more final rounds in the 60s than in the entirety of any of the first five St Andrews Opens following the Second World War.

However, nobody had ever broke­­­n 65 around The Old Course in an Open until Paul Broadhurst accomplished the feat in 1990, shooting a brilliant 63 in the third round.

Since then, only two other players have gone round in fewer than 65 strokes, the aforementioned McIlroy, in 2010, and Marc Leishman, who shot a third-round 64 in 2015.

Calibre of Champions

On claiming his first Claret Jug in 1970, Jack Nicklaus famously said: "If you're gonna be a player that's gonna be remembered, you must win at St Andrews."

The calibre of recent Champions at the Old Course certainly backs up that statement.

Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have each won twice at St Andrews in back-to-back appearances, cementing their positions among the game's greats.

In addition, Sam Snead, Bobby Locke, Peter Thomson, Seve Ballesteros and Sir Nick Faldo have all prevailed at the home of golf since 1946, making for an astonishing list of Champion Golfers.

In all, St Andrews' 12 post-war Champions hold a remarkable 67 major titles between them.

The Road Hole

St Andrews is well known for its many fascinating holes and course features, but there are probably none more famous, and in some senses infamous, than the Road Hole.

The par-4 17th is renowned as one of the hardest holes in the world of golf. Often, perceptions such as these can be misconceptions, but the data proves that is far from the case.

Since 1982, the Road Hole has played as quite considerably the toughest hole on The Open rota. Its par differential of +0.79 in 1984 was the single highest differential recorded in the last 38 years at an Open on any hole.

Tom Watson 1984 St Andrews The Open

Tom Watson came up just short of the Claret Jug in 1984 after bogeying the Road Hole in the final round

In individual Opens since 1982, the 17th at St Andrews accounts for six of the 10 most difficult holes played in that time period, making the list in every Open since then except for 1995.

Yet while the Road Hole is brutally difficult, the closing hole offers some respite. With the widest fairway in golf and no burn to contend with, unlike its neighbouring 1st hole, the 18th hole at St Andrews is the easiest par-4 on the Open rota, playing nearly half a shot under par in 2005, at -0.46.

Frequency of Hostings

With 29, St Andrews has hosted more Opens than any other venue. Prestwick is second with 24, last hosting golf's original major in 1925.

St Andrews' longest gap between hosting in peacetime was the nine-year period between 1946 and 1955, with the gap between Jack Nicklaus' two triumphs in 1970 and 1978 the second largest at eight years.

From 1990 to 2015, The Open was held every five years at St Andrews. When The Open returns to the Old Course in 2022, it will be after a seven-year wait.

Attendance

As well as being The Open’s most iconic venue, St Andrews frequently pulls in record crowds when it hosts the Championship.

The highest attendance in the history of The Open was set at St Andrews at the turn of the millennium. The 129th Open in 2000 had an attendance of 239,000, breaking the record previously set by St Andrews 10 years earlier.

The Old Course has accounted for four of the seven highest attendances in the history of the event, and has set a new attendance record six times since 1960.

The Open For The Ages is in association with HSBC.