British Open: Hole-by-hole guide to Royal Portrush links
Spectacular course set to challenge the world’s best golfers
The stunning Par 4 fifth hole at Royal Portrush. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP
Royal Portrush (Dunluce Links) hole-by-hole
421 Yards Par 4
Unique in its own way in that there is internal out-of-bounds on both sides of the fairway, a throwback to when the club didn’t own the triangle of land between the first and 18th holes, the opening tee-shot demands accuracy. The approach shot is to an elevated two-tier green which carries all of designer Harry Colt’s characteristics, with plenty of undulations.
574 Yards Par 5
Most players will view this as a potential birdie hole. A new tee has been added to stretch the length of the hole so that it is not an automatic two-shotter and players will aim to avoid the three bunkers strategically located down the right hand side. The biggest change, though, is the creation of a new green which retains the contours of Colt’s original design.
177 Yards Par 3
So named because of the tee ground’s high elevation, which – on a clear day – gives players a view across the sea to the Scottish island of Islay. The first task is to find the green with the tee shot, which is not an easy ask and anyone missing the putting surface will find it extremely difficult to make an up-and-down to save par.
482 Yards Par 4
With an out-of-bounds running all the way down the right side of the fairway, again there is a premium on accuracy off the tee. The challenge is accentuated by the strategic bunkering and mounding down the left. The green is surrounded by sand dunes and, depending on where the flag is located, the approach shot can be a blind one.
374 Yards Par 4
A stunning vista from the tee, many players will attempt to drive the green. The risk-reward element is increased with the green’s location on a clifftop, with out-of-bounds just four yards beyond the putting surface. There is a tier in the green which makes it difficult to hit. Many players will expect to make birdies here, but it will also see its share of bogeys and worse.
194 Yards Par 3
Another stunning hole – with Dunluce Castle and the white cliffs as a backdrop – this short hole is notable for the absence of any bunkers around the elevated green. The green has a false front which will punish any underhit shots and there are a number of run-offs and swales which make par-saving difficult for any players missing the green.
592 Yards Par 5
A brand new hole although one which, created by designer Martin Ebert, mimics perfectly the original work of Harry Colt. This long hole works its way through dunes which were part of the Valley links and the tee shot is downhill to a well defined fairway which has a replica of Big Nellie (the huge bunker that was on the now defunct original 17th) down the right. The approach is through a narrow corridor but wind direction will determine whether players will be able to reach the green in two.
434 Yards Par 4
The second of the new Ebert-designed holes, the eighth has been created on virgin duneland. It is a real gem, again crafted so seamlessly in Colt-like characteristics: a slight dogleg left, with a tee-shot played over a chasm and the fairway framed by sand hills, there is again a premium on finding the fairway. A large hollow to the left of the green is an area to be avoided. “It has the potential to become one of the most dramatic holes in championship golf,” remarked Ebert of his creation.
432 Yards Par 4
Will potentially play as the most difficult hole through the championship, a new bunker has been added on the right side of the fairway which will probably force most players to play a fairway wood or iron off the tee. Two cross bunkers frame the approach making the green appear closer than it really is while there is a large run-off to the right of the green.
447 Yards Par 4
Another tough hole, this Par 4 will require a tee-shot – with driver in play – to find the corner of the sharp dogleg so that players aren’t faced with a blind approach shot. There are no bunkers on the hole, the green protected with a series of sand hills on either side and behind. New contours have been added to the long narrow green to improve its definition but also to put a further emphasis on putting.
474 Yards Par 4
A third straight difficult Par 4, the tee shot is probably the toughest on the course with players driving to a narrow fairway – with sand hills and heavy rough left and right – which has a slight dogleg. The elevated green is perched amongst the sand hills with a false front that will punish any shot landing short.
532 Yards Par 5
A little respite after a stretch of tough Par 4s, this Par 5 will – depending on wind direction – be on in two for most players and represents a realistic birdie opportunity. The fairway slopes from left to right which also brings the bunkers down the right into play. The elevated green has a false front while a stream is hidden away in the gully to the right.
194 Yards Par 3
A brilliant downhill short hole, the green – unusually – runs from front to back which only adds to the challenge for players to find the green with the tee shot. The green is further protected by five bunkers which surround it. One of Ebert’s changes was to make alterations to the front left portion of the putting surface to allow for a tough front pin position.
473 Yards Par 4
The construction of a new tee has added almost 60 yards to the hole. The narrow right-to-left sloping fairway has strategically positioned bunkers on either side, including a new sand trap down the left. This is a true second shot hole. The approach is to a hogs-back green with a severe slope to the front and back.
426 Yards Par 4
The dilemma for players here is whether to use driver – which brings a new fairway bunker down the right into play – or to hit a fairway wood or iron off the tee, which restricts the sightline to the green. Again, the second shot is vital here; the approach is to a small green guarded by bunkers left and with a severe slope front and right.
236 Yards Par 3
Its reputation for calamity precedes it: there are no bunkers on the hole which is about the only relief for players hitting across a chasm of heavy rough, which runs to the front right of the green. Any shot coming up short and right will leave an extremely difficult up-and-down, while some players will be tempted to follow the example of Bobby Locke who, in 1951, played all four shots to a bail-out area front left which became known as Locke’s Hollow.
408 Yards Par 4
The addition of a new back tee has increased the challenge for players in finding a narrow fairway, which has sand hills down the right and a large drop off area down the left hand side. If the forward tee is used, players will be tempted to go for the green although a new bunker has been added down the left to make them think twice. For those playing conservatively, the approach is to a narrow green protected by bunkers right and left.
474 Yards Par 4
A new tee has been added to ensure a challenging finishing hole with driver more than likely the club of choice in attempting to favour the left side of the fairway where, adding to the difficulty, there is an internal out-of-bounds fence for any shots pulled too far left. The green sits at an angle, with a large drop off area to the left.