As The Open heads to Merseyside, here’s a hole-by-hole guide on how to tackle Royal Birkdale…
Hole 1, 448 yards, par 4
Royal Birkdale doesn’t offer an easy start with its opening hole, and it’s proven a tough challenge in the past two Championships (1998 and 2008).
An out-of-bounds down the right of the hole makes for a very tricky approach to the green, while there is also a mound hidden to the right you’ll want to avoid.
Hole 2, 422 yards, par 4
There is not too much margin for error off of the tee on the second between a mounded area to the left and two bunkers on the other side of the fairway, both added ahead of the 2008 Championship.
The green is surrounded by six bunkers and has a slight slope from back to front, meaning it’s probably advisable to avoid striking your approach past the hole so you don’t have to putt down the hill.
Hole 3, 451 yards. par 4
The third at Royal Birkdale keeps you on your toes as it plays in virtually the opposite direction as the second, with a tee shot to the left giving you the easiest path to the green.
The cross-winds also make it difficult to get the ball between the two bunkers that flank the left and right sides of the green.
Hole 4, 199 yards, par 3
The first par three of the course. Hole four plays from an elevated tee, which sits about 30 feet above the height of the green.
A ring of bunkers protect the green, which slopes on both sides so an accurate iron shot is essential to give yourself a chance of a birdie.
Hole 5, 346 yards, par 4
The fifth dog-legs to the right and does prevent the opportunity for brave players to cut the corner, although they’d have to beware a pond and a rough.
A second option is to play it around the course, but then you still have to avoid the seven bunkers around the green with your approach. Arguably the biggest early birdie opportunity of the round.
Hole 6, 499 yards, par 4
Another par four hole that dog-legs to the right. Unlike the fifth, though, this hole is more than 150 yards longer and has provided the biggest challenge at the last two Opens held at Royal Birkdale.
Even if you manage to miss the bunkers and find the fairway off the tee, you’re still left with a long approach to the green, which has three bunkers guarding it and has a slight left-to-right slope.
Hole 7, 177 yards, par 3
A lengthy par four is swiftly followed by a short par three, as you attempt to hit from an elevated tee to a small green, which can be a tough find in the windy conditions.
The green is also surrounded by seven bunkers.
Hole 8, 458 yards, par 4
Two bunkers that were added ahead of the last Championship in 2008 make the tee shot far trickier on the eighth, while you’ll want to find the green carefully as it has a slope from back to front.
The lengthy dog-leg left hole in the wind would leave you happy with a par.
Hole 9, 416 yards, par 4
No fairway bunkers make this a slightly easier tee shot than some of the earlier holes in the front nine, although some mounding on the right of the dog-leg could leave you in trouble if you try and cut across from the tee.
Whichever route you choose, two bunkers guard the elevated green on either side which can be a tricky shot from anywhere other than the fairway.
Hole 10, 402 yards, par 4
There are five bunkers to avoid on the first hole on the back nine, which dog-legs to the left. A good shot, though, will leave you on the fairway between the two that sit close to together on the inside and the three that mark the outer rim.
There is also the possibility of hitting into the rough to the left from the drive to leave yourself with a chip to green.
Hole 11, 436 yards, par 4
An accurate tee shot is needed on the 11th to avoid the four bunkers on the fairway, three around the edges and a fourth right in the heart of the course, while there is also a ditch to the right.
The green, meanwhile, is angled slightly from left to right.
Hole 12, 183 yards, par 3
Four deep bunkers guard the green on the short 12th, making it essential to hit the green, while if you get caught in the cross-wind you can also end up in the grassy banks on either side.
A good first shot, though, and a birdie is a real possibility.
Hole 13, 499 yards, par 4
Formerly a par five, the 13th is now a very long par four. Eight fairway bunkers need to be avoided off the tee, while three more sit between your iron shot and the green.
Hole 14 200 yards, par 3
The final par three of the round, it’s another hole where a good tee shot can leave you with a slim birdie opportunity while any error can put you in big trouble.
The green is ringed by four bunkers and is also surrounded by thick grass which could leave you with a tough second shot.
Hole 15, 542 yards, par 5
The first par five of the day at Birkdale begins with 13 bunkers lining the fairway, while two more guard the left and right of the green and could also catch you out on such a long hole.
Hitting the fairway with your drive is essential if you want to give yourself a birdie chance.
Hole 16, 438 yards, par 4
Two bunkers to the right of a narrow fairway must be avoided off the tee, while the elevated green has two bunkers to either side. There is also quite a big drop-off to the left.
Hole 17, 567 yards, par 5
The second par five and the longest hole at Royal Birkdale provides a tough challenge for all those in contention towards the end. Two bunkers to the right of the fairway can leave you in real trouble if you don’t avoid them off the tee, while three more ring a narrow green.
Played correctly, though, and birdie and even eagle opportunities are available, which could make a huge difference in the latter stages of the Championship.
Hole 18, 473 yards, par 4
The third-longest par four leaves you with a tough hole to finish. Two bunkers must be split from the drive and three more sit around the green.
There is also an out-of-bounds section down the right.