When you watch a lot of golf, it’s easy to think that every hole is a birdie-fest. The top players hit it so far and so pure that most courses seem to have no defence against red-hot scoring. But, sometimes, the holes do come out on top.
When it comes to the battle against players, the 17th at St Andrews is the not-so-secret weapon in the courses’ armoury. The 495-yard par 4 was the hardest hole in golf during 2015. Here’s why…
The tee shot
It’s a blind tee shot, forcing you to choose a letter from the ‘Old Course Hotel’ sign to aim at. Don’t leak it right – there’s a reason they have extra-resistant glass in the hotel windows!
Hit it close, tiny dancefloor
Let’s all just take a moment to appreciate the quality of that Elton John reference.
Great. Now we can move on.
The green on the Road Hole is only 13 yards wide, and if you miss it right, there’s a very real chance you’ll be up against the wall or, worse, out of bounds. Favour the left, then, you’d think…
Miss the green left and there’s a good chance you’ll find the Road Hole Bunker, which could be your new home for the next few days.
David Duval took an eight after finding the Road Hole Bunker in 2000. Tommy Nakajima took a nine after getting stuck in there in 1984.
The Road Hole yielded just nine birdies during The Open. The next most frugal hole was the 16th, but even that gave up a comparatively generous 25 red numbers. The par 5 5th was the easiest, yielding 257 birdies and 10 eagles.
The 17th saw more bogeys (217) than pars during The 2015 Open, the only hole to do so. It saw 212 scores of par or better but 260 of bogey or worse.
The Road Hole’s scoring average of 4.655 makes it officially the hardest hole on both the PGA Tour and European Tour season during 2015. That scoring average is higher than a lot of par 5s!
The next toughest hole on the European Tour was the 18th at Le Golf National, which had a scoring average of 4.60 during the Open de France.
So there you have it: if you play the Old Course and par the 17th, you’re better than half of the Tour golfers out there.