Hannah Holden has studied the stats to see just where amateurs are going right and wrong when it comes to golf's most famous course. Here are the results

The Old Course at St Andrews is one of if not the most famous links in the world. The 150th edition of The Open will mark the 30th occasion The Championship has been held at The Home of Golf.

But we know the pros have the ability to go low at the Home of Golf, but how about us mere mortals? We pored through the Shot Scope – and the results were fascinating…

1st hole

Par: 4
Average score: 4.75      
Rank: 7 

From the tee, the 1st hole looks relatively simple. After all, the fairway measures 148 yards at its widest point. It is though, framed with out of bounds left and right, plus there is the added pressure the usual crowds and, you know, the pressure of playing the Old Course.

Most golfers manage to keep the ball in play, but the cost for missing the fairway is high. The average score when hitting it out of bounds or in the dreaded burn is 6.3. 

It’s surprising how many golfers make bogey or worse from the right side of the fairway, with 36% of double bogeys come from shots finishing up on the West Sands Beach side. Perhaps having the carry the burn in three different places proves too much for the nerves?

All birdies made on the 1st hole came from a tee shot that finished inside the circle shown above.

5th hole

Par: 5             
Average score: 5.28
Rank: 17

The first par-5 has a green that is extremely well guarded by bunkers, including those two famous “spectacle” pot bunkers which line the left and right side of the fairway. This is not the place to miss, as 25% of players who end up in the left spectacle bunker make double bogey or worse.

If you’re trying to get on, or close to the green in two, make sure you have enough club to carry these traps.

7th hole

Par: 4
Avgerage score: 4.60
Rank: 10

The carry to the fairway on 7 can be anything from 200-224 yards depending on which tee box is in play. This may not seem very far but due to the lay of the land it is all carry and to top it off this hole usually plays straight into a head wind.

As a result most club golfers actually struggle to reach the fairway and end up playing from the rough or, even worse, the gorse.

The trouble doesn’t stop there. The expansive Shell bunker lurks short of the green to catch any balls coming up short, from here your chances of making up and down are virtually impossible.

9th hole

Par: 4
Average score: 4.15
Rank: 18

This ranks as the easiest hole on the course and offers a great chance at birdie for golfers of all ability. The key to good scoring, though, is avoiding the first two bunkers on the left and right.

The best chance of making birdie is, unsurprisingly, from the fairway but interestingly this is one of the only holes where the best miss is to the right.

11th hole

Par: 3
Average score: 3.76
Rank: 6

The second of just two short holes on the Old Course layout, the 11th is a very testing hole with danger lurking in every direction.

It sounds obvious, but this is a hole where you really just need to hit the green, as missing it increases the average score by a full shot. Whether you are short, long, left or right, the chance of a double is lurking.

Even if you hit your ball on the green, you’re not in for an easy par thanks to the severity of the slope from the back to the front. So much so, 15% of players who hit the surface end up three putting.


Par: 5
Average score: 5.59
Rank: 11

Par-5s are often opportunities to improve your score, but the 14th actually plays more than half a shot over par.

The biggest hazard is Hell Bunker that runs across the middle of this hole. It covers 250 square-metres and is more than three metres deep. Get past this dreaded trap in two and you have a massive advantage.

17th hole

Par: 4
Average score: 5.31
Rank: 1

One of the most famous tee shots in golf rewards the brave. The further right you dare to go the easier your approach will be. Yet nearly half of golfers miss this fairway left.

The Road Hole bunker is, unsurprisingly, the biggest hazard on this hole. Only 15% of amateurs get up and down from here and more than 50% of players who end up in here walk away with a double bogey or worse.

18th hole

Par: 4
Average score: 4.34
Rank: 16

The closing hole offers all golfers a good chance of birdie. The fairway is 129 yards wide so it is perhaps no surprise 96% of golfers find the short grass. Getting your driver over the road gives you the best chance of making birdie.

The Valley of Sin just short of the green is seen as the biggest challenge on this hole yet nearly 50% of golfers make up and down from here.

NCG Top 100s Call to Action

If you’re after more equipment content, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, and if you have any questions about lie angles in golf or anything gear related, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter or Instagram.

Subscribe to NCG

Hannah Holden

Equipment and Instruction Editor

Hannah Holden is the Equipment and Instruction Editor here at National Club Golfer. If you’re looking to improve your game, by changing your golf swing or upgrading your golf equipment she’ll have the answers. As well as writing lots of features and reviews you can find her on our YouTube channel giving you insights on the latest rules, clubs and tips to improve your golf game. Hannah is a member at both Huddersfield and Alwoodley golf clubs. You will either find her here or driving up and down the country playing in a variety of elite amateur events.

Group bookings of four or more golfers receive 10% OFF our NCG Top 100s Tour events


Subscribe to NCG