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Royal Liverpool 17th hole

‘They will be blowing it up’: Is Hoylake’s controversial 17th set for a rebuild?

The 17th at Royal Liverpool brought controversy and exciting moments, but will Royal Liverpool be “blowing it up”?

 

Rest in peace, Little Eye? Would too many in the golf world would shed any tears for this version of Hoylake’s short par 3?

There have been reports Royal Liverpool might be about to make some pretty substantial changes to the controversial hole after it embarrassed some pretty high profile players during the championship.

Matt Fitzpatrick’s hopes of winning the Claret Jug were all but ended as he swished his way through the sandscrapes to a treble, while Tommy Fleetwood also came a cropper on the final day.

Now, amid the list of complaints from Open players, and an apparent mixed reaction from the club membership, is a rethink on the cards?

Telegraph Sport’s James Corrigan reported plans were already in place to make the hole fairer and easier, especially for Hoylake stalwarts.

It’s suggested the tee is set to be elevated and the area to the right of the green flattened out – giving golfers a better chance of not losing their minds in one of the brutal bunkers that currently surround the green.

Royal Liverpool 17th hole

“In truth, the majority of members have not liked this hole since it was opened a few years back,” an insider told Telegraph Sport.

“It has caused all manners of problems in the club’s competitions. There was one women’s tournament held when there was a host of ‘no returns’ at the 17th.

“It was taking 20 to 30 minutes for each group to complete and it caused a huge tail back. They are not getting rid of it but they will be blowing it up and making it much fairer and appealing to play.”

Yet, there was still some mystery in the affair, with golf.com, speaking to designer Martin Ebert about the impact of the hole, reporting a Hoylake club representative saying there were “no plans to modify the 17th”.

What the 17th at Hoylake was supposed to become – and who sounded off…

At 136 yards, the new 17th hole at Royal Liverpool, which plays as the 15th for club members, was meant to join the great short par 3s of world golf.

Inspired by the 17th at Sawgrass, and designed to create the drama of the Postage Stamp at Royal Troon and the 12th at Augusta National, it wasn’t to everyone’s liking.

But it did provide one moment of magic during the 151st Open when Australian Travis Smyth hit the championship’s only hole-in-one on Friday afternoon.

On the flip side, Matt Fitzpatrick had his problems with the shortest hole on the property. The Yorkshireman made a triple-bogey six after going long on the 17th.

He then had three attempts at getting out of the waste area, with his fourth shot on the hole finding another pot bunker.

“I hit a bad shot, so that’s on me,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think it is too penal down there. Yeah, that’s all I have to say really.”

But the former US Open champion did have more to say, arguing they would go back to the drawing board.

“Start again… I mean, I think if you ask the majority of people out here, their opinion would be on the absolutely more negative side. But yeah, I hit a bad shot, got punished. At the same time, I think the punishment was a bit too severe.”

Fitzpatrick’s younger brother Alex was another man to struggle on the 17th.

He made triple-bogey on day one, while Lucas Herbert, Tommy Fleetwood and Zach Johnson were among those also write down ‘6’ on their scorecards after playing ‘Little Eye’.

NOW READ: Everything you need to know about the 151st Open Championship

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Matt Coles

Matt Coles

Mention a European country, and Matt will tell you which resorts make the National Club Golfer Top 100s: European Resorts list. He might even throw in who designed the golf course and how many rooms the hotel has got at each one…

Matt got into the game of golf from a young age, following his old man to the local golf club. He fell for the sport, and now can’t seem to go a day without thinking about how to improve his game (Thanks Dad!). Matt has been a member of Howley Hall GC in Leeds since 2020, and is just about managing to maintain a single-figure handicap. He likes to remind people that he once broke 75, but won’t tell people that it was on a shortened course during the winter.

He moved to Leeds after graduating from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class Honours degree in Sports Journalism. Matt joined NCG after almost five years travelling the world with the Professional Squash Association, working on events in all four corners of the globe.

Matt currently plays a Cobra King LTDx driver and RadSpeed 3-wood. TaylorMade monopolise the rest of his bag, with a SIM UDI, M5 irons and both Milled Grind and HI-TOE wedges, along with a Monza Redline putter. He uses a Vice Pro Plus golf ball, because he’s a bit different…

Away from golf, Matt is a Manchester United fan, and a keen runner, having ran the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon (his first and possibly last), in May 2023.

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