Skip to main content
The Open Podcasts sports documentaries


Sold Out

St Andrews Course Guide

A momentous sporting occasion will be celebrated in July 2022 when the Old Course at St Andrews plays host to The 150th Open.

The Home of Golf has an unparalleled history, with many of the game's greatest Champions - including J.H. Taylor, James Braid, Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Peter Thomson, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods - having lifted the Claret Jug at the iconic venue.

St Andrews' 30th staging of The Open will now coincide with the 150th playing of the Championship, providing the world's best players with the opportunity to claim an extra-special triumph in a landmark event.

As the countdown to The 150th Open continues, we take a hole-by-hole look at the Old Course, picking out the highlights from an historic layout that has changed little since St Andrews' first Open in 1873.


Hole 1 - Burn - Par 4, 375 Yards

The Old Course begins with one of the most iconic shots in the game. A stone's throw from The R&A clubhouse, players have the luxury of targeting one of the widest fairways in golf, although there is out of bounds left and right to punish the most wayward strokes, and the snaking Swilcan Burn comes into play off the tee in varying winds and ground conditions, depending on how aggressive the player is. Finding a fairway that is shared with the 18th is certainly no guarantee, as many have discovered over the years. However, the vast majority of competitors in The 150th Open will surely be left with relatively short pitches over the Swilcan Burn and the opportunity to begin with a birdie three.

Hole 2 - Dyke - Par 4, 452 Yards

The fairway is certainly not as wide on the second, where menacing gorse threatens to pick up any tee shots flayed to the right. A good line is just to the right of Cheape's bunker on the left side of the fairway. The subsequent approach is aimed at the first of several huge shared greens, this one also serving as the putting surface for the 16th. Two small bunkers lurk to the right, while a diagonal ridge runs up to the front of the green and will cause trouble for anything landing short at this par-4.

Hole 3 - Cartgate (Out) - Par 4, 398 Yards
It is not hard to spot the biggest danger on the third, the huge Cartgate bunker guarding the front of a green that is shared with the 15th. Staying to the left is generally the safest bet off the tee all throughout the Old Course, but doing so on this par-4 will bring the most significant sand trap into play. A bold drive down the right half of the fairway leaves a much simpler approach to a green shared with the 15th, which again is vast in size and has subtle undulations and breaks.
Hole 4 - Ginger Beer - Par 4, 480 Yards

Arguably the toughest test on the Old Course's outward nine, Ginger Beer provides a similar challenge to the third from the tee, with the riskier line down the right half of the fairway opening up an easier second. Those choosing to play safer up the left may have stance and lie issues, and will have to carry a large mound just short of the green with their approach, no easy feat on a par-4 that nears 500 yards from the Championship tee. A deep bunker to the left of the green must also be avoided, and the hidden bunker to the right can be equally problematic. 

Hole 5 - Hole O'Cross (Out) - Par 5, 570 Yards

Expect to see birdies and eagles aplenty at the fifth, the first of only two par-5s on the Old Course. Those who find the fairway off the tee will fancy their chances of firing a second shot over the Spectacles bunkers and finding a putting surface that is an astonishing 100 yards long. A deep swale guards the green and makes a front pin position particularly tricky to access, but the world's best will be confident of picking up at least one shot here all four days.

Hole 6 - Heathery (Out) - Par 4, 414 Yards

The tee shot is not simple at the par-4 sixth, played blind to a fairway that is studded with the infamous Coffin bunkers. A further six sand traps lurk to the right of the short grass, making accuracy vital. Yet another double green, the fifth in succession, is somewhat simpler to find should a player's opening strike find the fairway. An excellent birdie chance should the fairway be found.

HOLES 7-12

Hole 7 - High (Out) - Par 4, 371 Yards

The green on this par-4 is shared with the 11th and the flag on the latter hole is generally considered a good line from the seventh tee, with just an iron likely required. Those hitting woods for their opening shot however must be careful not to find the gargantuan Shell bunker at approximately 310 yards. The putting surface winds its way from left to right, and is often the case on the Old Course, pin placement and wind direction are key factors in the approach.

Hole 8 - Short - Par 3, 187 Yards

Short represents the first time you play towards the Auld Grey Toon of St Andrews, and the eighth is one of only two par-3s on the Old Course. Downwind, it can be difficult to hold the putting surface due to the perfectly positioned Short Hole Bunker, which comes further into play when played into the wind with a front flag. Anyone looking to land the ball on the front portion of the green risks flirting with danger, but the job isn't done yet when finding the putting surface, as along with the shared 10th, the 8th is one of the trickiest to read around the Old Course, as evidenced by Jordan Spieth's Sunday mishap in 2015.

Hole 9 - End - Par 4, 352 Yards

One of several short par-4s around the turn, the ninth presents one of the best birdie opportunities of the round but is not without its dangers. A host of bunkers, including two in the right half of the fairway at approximately 260 and 290 yards from the tee, are in play for those looking to take on the green from the tee, while gorse bushes lurk to the left. Good lag putting on this hole, particularly downwind, is often crucial to securing a three.

Hole 10 - Bobby Jones - Par 4, 386 Yards

Named after the Champion Golfer of 1927 and Amateur Champion of 1930 at St Andrews, 'Bobby Jones' presents two distinct options off the tee. Those seeking to play it safe on this par-4 can lay up and have plenty of room for error, but there is also the option of taking a bolder line with a driver, taking aim at a narrowing, undulating strip of fairway that runs up to the green. Running back opposite the 9th hole, players will experience the complete opposite wind on Bobby Jones as from End, which will likely render one of the two holes driveable. This putting surface is shared with the eighth and again is tricky, sloping from front to back and offering subtle undulations.

Hole 11 - High (In) - Par 3, 174 Yards

Amusingly referred to by many locals as "the shortest par-5 in golf", the 11th (actually a par-3) is certainly a challenging test. The fearsome Hill and Strath bunkers short of the green must be avoided, although that can be easier said than done when the wind blows. And for those who take a club too many, a devilishly steep run off area awaits over the green, and can present at times just as difficult a shot as the bunkers. The green itself sits across from the player, and is likely the second shallowest green to find on the Old Course after the 17th. A brilliant hole, and a true test of a player's long game, short game and mental prowess.

Hole 12 - Heathery (In) - Par 4, 351 Yards

The 12th hole proved decisive in The Open of 2010, as long-time leader Louis Oosthuizen made a birdie in the final round and saw his closest challenger Paul Casey run up a costly seven. Their contrasting experiences neatly sums up the beauty of a short par-4 where the tee shot is key. If you avoid the five hidden bunkers scattered around the centre of the fairway and the gorse to the left and right, a great birdie chance awaits, particularly for the longer hitters who can take on the green. That task is easier said than done however, on a hole where five-time Open Champion Tom Watson admits he still doesn't quite know how to play.

HOLES 13-18

Hole 13 - Hole O'Cross (In) - Par 4, 465 Yards

The difficult par-4 13th starts the run for home, playing back towards the now visible town in the distance. The fairway comes to an end at approximately 300 yards, and playing up the left is again an advantage. The Coffin bunkers are the main threat from the tee, while it can be tough to pick the right line with a semi-blind approach played over a large mound to yet another double green. A swail and bunker just to the right of the green also present problems. Anyone making four here in all four rounds will surely be happy with their work.

Hole 14 - Long - Par 5, 614 Yards

Measuring over 600 yards, the 14th is a tough par-5 that begins with a demanding tee shot, where players can choose to go right or left of a group of bunkers known as the Beardies. With an out-of-bounds wall further to the right, many will likely choose the 5th fairway to the left as the option, although a bold drive to the right will be rewarded will a flat lie and a view of the green. The second shot can then be fired over the large Hell bunker or along the 5th fairway again on the left. More sand surrounds the green, and all the bunkers on Long will be in play depending on wind direction, making this one of the trickier long holes played at The Open.

Hole 15 - Cartgate (In) - Par 4, 455 Yards

Club selection is vital at the par-4 15th, a hole that demands accuracy off the tee. The fairway narrows significantly at around 300 yards and has pot bunkers a little further up, so many may choose to leave the driver in the bag. A deceptively deep green, shared with the third, appears closer than it actually is and is guarded by a devilish pot bunker to the front left and a difficult to read putting surface.

Hole 16 - Corner of the Dyke - Par 4, 418 Yards

The par-4 16th is a classic risk/reward hole, with boldness off the tee required to leave an easier approach. With out of bounds very much in play to the right, the safe play is a drive down the left side of the fairway shared with the third hole, but will leave a demanding second shot over two bunkers and with a worse angle into the green. Drives down the centre can bring the Principal's Nose collection of bunkers into play, and will result in a chip out. Playing down the right and taking on the out of bounds is much riskier, but can result in a golden birdie opportunity if navigated successfully.

Hole 17 - Road - Par 4, 495 Yards

The Road Hole is undoubtedly the Old Course's most demanding test and regarded by many as the toughest par-4 in golf. It has consistently played to a scoring average well above its par at The Open, including an average of 4.79 in 1984, and 4.65 when St Andrews last hosted the Championship in 2015. The tee shot needs to be fired bravely over the corner of the Old Course Hotel to find the fairway, although many will bail out left with out of bounds lurking to the right. An even trickier challenge awaits with an approach to the shallowest of greens, protected by the cavernous Road Hole bunker at the front and a path and wall to the back. Miguel Angel Jimenez famously played a rebound shot off the wall in 2010, but many others have come to grief here. The sensible play will always be front right of the green, but the putting surface too is arguably the hardest on the Old Course, and even after playing two excellent shots, avoiding a three-putt is a difficult task.

Hole 18 - Tom Morris - Par 4, 356 Yards

The site of so many dramatic moments over the years, the par-4 18th is quite simply iconic. It should be no problem to find the huge fairway that also served as the target for the opening shot of the round, so long as the out of bounds to the right is avoided. Players can then savour a walk over the Swilcan Bridge as they make it back into the town where they started. The Valley of Sin short of the green is a common collection point for under-hit approaches, or drives downwind, and the place from where Costantino Rocca famously holed a miraculous long putt to force a play-off with John Daly in 1995. Three-putts are common on a large undulating green, but Seve Ballesteros famously needed only one putt here - a curling effort from right to left - to seal his finest victory in 1984.