How a 10-handicap would fare on St. Andrews' toughest hole

How a 10-handicap would fare on St. Andrews’ toughest hole

The Road Hole at St Andrews is long, tight, and difficult.

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The Old Course at St. Andrews is never easy, but with the wind down and the course (slightly) softer than the day before, good scores were out there to be had on Friday at the 2022 Open Championship.

Watching from home wondering what pros will shoot also inevitably leads golf fans to pose a question of their own: What would I shoot?

“It’s so firm and fast,” says TPI certified coach Reed Howard. “The way it’s playing, a high single digit would shoot well over 95, probably over 100.”

the 17th green of the old course.

The hardest hole in golf is back: Inside the OId Course’s diabolical Road Hole


Josh Berhow

The issue is that dry, browned-out conditions demand a high level of precision, especially when it comes to distance control. Shots need to land in specific spots at certain yardages, and the if they don’t, you’ll be penalized perhaps too harshly.

“Links golf is hitting the perfect shot and hoping for the best,” Cam Smith said earlier in the week.

We’re good at hoping for the best. It’s hitting the perfect shot that’s the hard part for the rest of us.

To put the task into perspective, the team over at Arccos places the average driver dispersion patterns of 10-handicaps onto St. Andrews’ famed 17th hole, which ranked the third-hardest hole during the first round. Stretching nearly 500 yards with a tee shot that golfers need to hit over a hotel that’s out of bounds.

As you can see, a vast majority of drives from 10-handicaps never get that far. Those that finish out of bounds are double bogeys — or worse — waiting to happen. Probably similarly to those that end up left of the fairway, in the fescue.

Even those that finish in the fairway will struggle. Considering the average drive here was sub 250 yards (which would leave another 250+ yards for your second shot) and that just two percent of 15-handicaps hit shots from 170 yards that finish within 10 feet, the reality is that even 10 handicaps who play the hole the best of their peers from the pro tees will likely need to get up and down with a longer wedge shot to save par.

A tall task.

Luke Kerr-Dineen Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University . His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

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