The first hole is a nice pleasant opening hole, although it depends on how the wind is blowing as to how it will play. Generally it will be a lay up off the tee with a hybrid or maybe even less; depending on how firm conditions are it maybe even a four or five iron off the tee and then an 8 iron second shot. It could be drivable downwind but that is a riskier proposition. Overall, a nice pleasant start.
The second hole is a good solid hole, where it will be key to hit the fairway off the tee. There are a number of bunkers in the driving area that you need to thread it between, although the conservative play is to lay it up short of these bunkers leaving yourself a 150 to 170 yard shot to the pin. As players will be looking for a nice steady start I think they will lay-up with a 3 wood off the tee and then probably hit a 6 iron to the green.
The third hole generally plays back into the wind. Players will need to avoid the second bunker down the left at 300 yards so will attempt to hit down the right half of the fairway leaving a long second shot to the hole, although the green is a big target to hit. A tough but straightforward par 4.
The fourth is a beautiful little par 3 which will generally play downwind. It could be very awkward with pin positions at the front, so players will not want to miss the green left, long or short. It will be all about getting a good quality strike on the ball to the front of this green, trying to get it to stop as quickly as possible to those front pins.
The fifth is a strong par 4. Players will have the choice of laying back short of the fairway bunkers but this will leave a tough second shot to the slightly elevated green due to the two deep bunkers on the front left. However a good tee shot threaded between the bunkers means the second shot becomes a lot more playable and brings about a birdie opportunity.
The sixth hole is a very long par 3, which can play anything up to 240 yards to the middle of the green. It does play downwind but the green has a big slope at the front so players will need to carry that allowing the ball to release to the back of the green. Given the general slope on this green players will be happy making a par-3 on this hole.
The seventh hole is a generous par 5, providing an opportunity that must be taken on the front nine. Although an awkward tee shot, it is a dog leg left with the wind tending to be down off the left but the left hand bunker can be carried. If players hit the fairway they will be left with a 6 iron or so to the green, giving an opportunity for an eagle. If coming from the rough players can probably run one up to a reasonably generous target, with the ball tending to gather into the green. Again the green has an extreme slope, back to front, so keeping the ball below the pin will be very important.
The eighth hole is a straight forward par 4, where players will need to try to avoid the bunkers down the right hand side, although as the ball can kick generously away from these bunkers at times it is certainly a hole where you will see guys hitting their driver. There is a tier in the green so players will look to play to the right position on the green but I believe this, even though it is a long hole, would be one where players will be hoping for birdies.
The ninth is the first of the two real signature holes on the course, with the lighthouse on the left hand side. It’s an awkward tee shot as you cannot see the fairway and also the ball tends to kick away. Downwind it doesn’t play too long, but the difficulty is hitting the fairway, or if you have missed the fairway, controlling the distance from the rough. The green is more or less in a bowl so you will see birdie opportunities on this hole.
The tenth is a fantastic hole that rewards a brave drive down the left side between the bunkers and the water, which shortens the hole quite considerably. Anything hit out to the right lengthens the hole and also brings the bunkers into play so a good driver of the ball is going to like this hole. A good solid drive down the left will leave only a wedge to the green and a birdie chance awaits.
The eleventh is a solid medium length par 3 and again the difficulty here will be when the pin is placed on the front left of the green just over the bunker. Trying to get balls to stop without releasing to the back of the green will then be tough.
The twelfth is a long par 4 back into the wind. A good solid drive is needed to avoid the bunkers down the left. Players will be left with a long second shot into the wind and anytime you make 4 on this hole you will be very pleased. It is a well protected green, with bunkers, mounds and gorse on the right so certainly a hole where par is going to be very acceptable.
The thirteenth is an awkward driving hole, generally played with a cross wind off the right and yet it is a dog leg to the right. With bunkers down the left the difficulty is not letting the drive carry on the wind and run towards the bunkers, so it will play as a lay up off the tee with a long iron or a hybrid, trying not to let it swing away on the prevailing wind. From the fairway it is a short second shot but an interesting one to an elevated green. Again any player who plays the hole well will be looking to make birdie, but for someone who does not get into good position, it becomes very tricky.
The fourteenth is a tough par 4 playing back into the wind. Again it is about hitting the fairway on these long par 4s into the wind, still leaving a tough second shot. The green is protected by a few bunkers so anytime you make par here you will be very happy.
The fifteenth is a great par 3. With the prevailing wind tending to be from the right and given a big fall off on the right side of the green, players will have to aim down the right hand side of the green, trying to cut it. It is a big enough target and you will see a lot of players playing safe, leaving themselves a long putt. As players will try to avoid missing this green on the right I do not think you will see many birdies on this hole. It will be more about just trying to take two putts from long range.
The sixteenth hole has changed since the last Open. It is now a dogleg right with a bunker on the corner. As the prevailing wind tends to be in off the right, players will try to avoid the bunker even though they are probably going to be aiming very close to it. Players will want to get down this fairway as much as possible as it is not a hole to lay back on, although if it is firm and fast it might be hard to hold the dogleg so you will probably have to lay up and leave a longer second shot. However this hole is really all about the second shot. It has a “wee burn” (also the name of the hole) in front and right of the green, so the risk is that any ball five yards onto the green could run back into the water. This is a hole to get the tee shot in play to give yourself the best chance of controlling distance. It is a great finishing hole because it is easy to mess up and drop a few shots and yet, if it is played and executed well, there could be birdies to be found.
The seventeenth is the only real hole on the golf course that substantially rewards the longer hitter. It is a reasonably generous fairway, although semi blind. For the second shot if you can’t carry the two cross bunkers, which are 45 yards short of the green, you have to lay up but then the problem is that you then are going to have to lay up at the bottom of the hill leaving a blind third shot of about 100 yards to the pin. Anybody laying up is actually going to be happy if they are making a par, whilst players who carry the bunker will have a great chance to make a birdie or eagle. This is a hole where a bit of power will make it a soft par 5 and a birdie and yet for the shorter hitter it is actually a difficult par 5 to have to lay up into a very awkward spot short of the treacherous bunkers.
The eighteenth is a good solid par 4 to finish, playing as a dog leg right to left. Three bunkers on the left hand side are to be avoided so the tee shot needs to be aimed at the gorse hoping for the wind to turn it round the corner. The second shot from the fairway seems like a six iron or seven iron to a slightly elevated green, with a fall off on the left where Jesper Parnevik ended up in 1994. The second shot is ideally played down the green letting it drift a little to the left on the wind. Again it is a solid hole and if you have to make birdie it can be achieved, but if you have to make par that brings its own pressure.