Royal Liverpool is the only course in The Open Championship rotation that ends on a par-5 hole, and that’s not the only oddity stemming from the extreme dogleg known as “Dun.”
For one thing, it serves as the finishing hole only when The Open comes to town. Members play it as the 16th hole, with Nos. 17 and 18 used this week to start the round. Moreover, the hole is governed by a big chunk of out-of-bounds territory in the middle of the property.
An OB line runs down the entire right side of the hole, guarding what’s usually the Hoylake practice ground. But that houses the corporate and spectator village this week, separated from play by “cop” mounds covered in wispy fescue.
“That’s risk and reward,” said Ian Poulter, one of 19 Englishmen in The Open field. “You just need to have a good gameplan and stick with it and don’t do anything silly.”
The out-of-bounds juts hard into the dogleg, forcing players to make a decision in how to take it on – and how much.
“It’s a funny kind of tee shot, especially if the wind is pushing it that direction as well,” said Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy.
The ideal play is a drive down the right-center of the fairway, leaving a second shot that travels mostly through OB airspace but provides the best access to the green. Bailing out to the left not only creates a longer approach, but the putting surface now is fronted by three small, deep bunkers.
If the pin is on the left, it’s almost impossible to reach the green in two from the left side of the fairway. A new swale also has been created on the back left of the putting surface, creating a tougher recovery shot.
This Open also finds a new “horseshoe” grandstand flanking the green on three sides, changing the look if nothing else.
“It’s one of the strangest holes I’ve seen,” Ogilvy said, “but actually quite fun to play. I think it’s a fun hole.”
It also has the chance to bring a lot of drama to Sunday’s waning stages, with plenty of birdies and eagles in play – and maybe double bogeys for those who don’t hit the fairway.
“You don’t need to hit driver off that tee to be able to score,” Poulter said. “That hole is certainly reachable in the right wind condition without taking any risk on. So it just depends how people see playing [the hole] and how much risk they want to take.”