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The Open at Royal Birkdale: Back 9 Hole-by-Hole

In our earlier blog, we looked at how we at Hole19 HQ would take on the might of the front-9 at Royal Birkdale. The shots we would play, the risks we would (or in a lot of cases, wouldn't) take.

Now for the back-9...

Hole 10
10th Hole Royal Birkdale - Hole19 Premium Map

A relatively short par 4, but a straight drive off the tee is the only way to ensure being left with a decent approach. The long hitters might be tempted to go for the green, but the landing area is small with thick rough short and harsh bunkers long.

How we would play it: No hail-mary approach to the green for us, we would play along the left line of the fairway aiming to come up short of the right-side fairway bunkers. This should leave us with a fairly accessible approach to the green. We'd need to be accurate with our second; land on the left, right or short of the green and our ball is rolling away from the target.
Hole 11
11th Hole Royal Birkdale - Hole19 Premium Map

A well contoured fairway demands an accurate tee shot here; the central bunker will catch out some of the bigger hitters at the Open. The second shot must hit the green, anything short or wide of the target will find itself rolling down and away from the hole.

How we would play it:
The central bunker would not trouble us off the tee, so we'd play a drive down the left side of the fairway coming up well short of the sand. We were all a little divided on the next shot, but the percentage play won the day - short is better than long or wayward. Depending on our lie, we might choose to lay up and attack the pin with the third shot.

Hole 12
12th Hole Royal Birkdale - Hole19 Premium Map

One of the more straightforward looking holes on the course, but the pros will face a small target area with some challenging lumps and bumps. Miss the green on any side and they're in for a challening scramble for par.

How we would play it:
A deceptive hole, but yet another chance for us to test the mettle of our approach play. The only option here is to hit the green...sounds easy enough.

Hole 13
13th Hole Royal Birkdale - Hole19 Premium Map

Those cunning course designers have placed bunkers at perfect driving distance. If they can thread the needle between the left and right bunkers they'll be sitting pretty for a nice looking approach. Miss the fairway and making par immediately becomes a real challenge.

How we would play it:
Realistically, this might be a bogey hole for us. We would play a safe shot off the tee, doing our utmost to avoid the bunkers and come up short of trouble. This would leave a long approach in, our landing area for shot two would be short of the green and those bunkers surrounding it. This might sound overly cautious but we're playing our game, not all of us have Mickelson's short game to fall back on!

Hole 14
14th Hole Royal Birkdale - Hole19 Premium Map

The final of the courses par-3s has an elevated tee position, which is protected by from the winds - making it a challenging shot to read. This may be the easiest hole on the course, but only if they hit the green.

How we would play it:
It's centre of the green or bust here. We'd pick a sensible club, try to keep it low through the wind remembering that the only safe mistake here is to come up short.

Hole 15
15th Hole Royal Birkdale - Hole19 Premium Map

15 bunkers and 542 yards stand between tee and green for our fearless pros. Once they've navigated the fairway they'll want to be sure of landing the ball below the hole - anywhere above and they'll face one of the fastest and most deceptive putts of the round.

How we would play it:
We would get the big club out for this one and go for a long bomb (hopefully down the middle!) The 15th is too long not to really. The green being the challenge it is, we would lay up with our second and leave ourselves a full shot in with 9 iron or pitching wedge.

Hole 16
16th Hole Royal Birkdale - Hole19 Premium Map

A solid tee shot is needed here, one that can carry the rough and sloping fairway. An ideal landing zone is just short of the mid-fairway bunkers. If they can accomplish that, the players will face an upward approach to an elevated green that slopes into its surrounding bunkers.

How we would play it:
Sand-free and on the fairway is our only goal off the tee on this one, this should leave us with a fairly accessible approach shot. Now, once again there was a bit of discussion about the approach but the consensus was that we would play an approach at the green. Front or back. And take the chance on a testing long putt and an opportunity for a momemtus birdie...even if it could roll by the hole and off the green.

Hole 17
17th Hole Royal Birkdale - Hole19 Premium Map

The pros will need to dissect two large sand dunes with their tee shot, whilst avoiding two sizeable bunkers on the right of the fairway. A well hit drive will run on nicely and leave a relatively straightforward approach to a typically well protected green.

How we would play it:
Wayward off the tee here and we're done for, so we would opt to play a safer long iron or fairway wood off the tee to help our control. This would leave a longer approach in, so our choice would be to come up short of the bunker located roughly 30-40 yards from the green. It would then be down to our short game (for better or for worse) to get the job done.

Hole 18
18th Hole Royal Birkdale - Hole19 Premium Mpa

A beautiful closing hole for the Open, the 18th has out of bounds down the right and a fairway speckled with bunkers. Until they pass the second of the left hand bunkers, the pros will face a flowing and undulating fairway. The green is well protected (naturally) and commands a solid approach, just to add to the pressure of the clubhouse crowd.

How we would play it:
Another bogey hole here for us. Out of bound down the right out of the picture, the aim would be to hit two solid fairway shots and come up short of those pesky greenside bunkers. Sure, it might not be the most crowd-pleasing approach to the closing hole...but it might at least keep our scorecard happy.

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