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Shane Bacon

Sizing up St. Andrews' Swing Holes: Hole #1, Burn

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The British Open is this week, at the home of golf. Luckily, I used to caddie at the Old Course, and will be breaking down a few of the important holes throughout the week. First up, the opening hole, a 376-yard par-4.

The Old Course at St. Andrews might be a lot of things, but tight is not one of them. That couldn't be more apparent than when you walk up to the first tee at the Old, with all the green in the world looking at you.

Does that mean that the short opening hole is easy? Absolutely not, especially if the wind picks up. Usually the wind you see here is into your face, meaning you'll have to hit two good shots to avoid the Swilken Burn in front of the green.

The tee shot calls for a long iron or hybrid at the bush between the first and 18th fairways. A leak out right and you could find the burn that runs up towards the opening tee, or even worse, out of bounds over the burn. A snap-hook with a hurting wind and you could be way out of position in the 18th fairway, making the second shot all the more tough.

Most players will hit it in the middle of the two fairways, play their second shot to the middle or back of the green, and hope for a two-putt par. It's a short hole but has a ton of trouble if you aren't careful.

Maybe the most famous of opening tee shots came in 1995, when Ian Baker-Finch was paired with Arnold Palmer, playing in his final British Open. Baker-Finch had a hard right-to-left wind, and ended up yanking his tee shot so far left, it went out of bounds.

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