RICOH 2012: All about the course
As at the Open Championship in 2006 the 1st hole in the Ricoh is actually the 17th for the members so expect a lot of talk during the week of ‘the members actually play this (the 6th) as their 4th’.
It basically means the championship can finish with a par 5 where out of bounds lurks down the right-hand side.
This also means the two nines are quite different in length with the back nine, which plays to a par of 37, nearly 400 yards longer though there is a possibility that the last two holes could be shortened.
THE OPENING HOLE
The 1st (the members’ 17th) has three bunkers to negotiate from the tee and four more around the green.
The green used to be situated next to the road and this was moved in the winter of 2000. The hole is named after the Royal Hotel, on the other side of the avenue, and this was the first clubhouse in 1869 and where John Ball, son of the owner, was born.
Ball would go on to win the Amateur Championship eight times as well as the 1890 Open Championship, becoming the first Englishman and the first amateur to do so.
INTERNAL OUT OF BOUNDS
The good news is that this isn’t the opening tee shot (as it is for the members). The 3rd will require a tee shot which could easily flirt with the practice ground down the right.
This small mounded turf continues the length of the hole so expect to see plenty of players favour the left half. The same practice ground also comes into play from the 18th tee.
In general the course is flat and the bounces straight so expect a good driver of the ball to go well. Looking out from the clubhouse, much like at Lytham, the views are more of local housing than any water.
THE SHORT HOLES
These tend to be roughly around the same mark but the 13th, Alps, deserves special mention. Set among the dunes it might not quite live up to its name but, by Hoylake’s standards, these are fairly mountainous.
In general the course is flat and the bounces straight so expect a good driver of the ball to go well.
Looking out from the clubhouse, much like at Lytham, the views are more of local housing than any water.
But, also like Lytham, it was designed to be played, not photographed. While countless links courses across the British Isles are more attractive to the eye, few are as tough when the wind blows. In September that could be a real factor.
THE BEST HOLES
The holes at the far end of the course are well worth getting out to. Starting the turn for home the 11th tee offers views of the Welsh hills and Dee estuary and begins a stunning run of four holes along the shoreline. The 12th and 14th have a common general shape, doglegging left, but the latter is far better and possibly the hardest hole with a severe run-off by the green. Tiger Woods holed his approach here in 2006.
CARD OF THE COURSE
1 Royal 392 4 6
2 Stand 377 4 10
3 Course 405 4 5
4 Road 358 4 13
5 Long 528 5 11
6 New 157 3 7
7 Telegraph 383 4 1
8 Briars 382 4 9
9 Dowie 178 3 15
Out: 3,160 yards, par 35
10 Far 493 5 17
11 Punch Bowl 382 4 3
12 Dee 397 4 8
13 Alps 151 3 14
14 Hilbre 400 4 4
15 Rushes 161 3 16
16 Field 519 5 18
17 Lake 457 4 2
18 Dun 540 5 12
In: 3,500 yards, par 37
Total: 6,660 yards, par 72