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Shane Bacon

Sizing up St. Andrews' Swing Holes: Hole #17, Road

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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. We already tackled No. 1, No. 5, No. 11 and No. 14. Now we will look at the most famous hole in golf, the par-4 17th, playing 495 yards.

It isn't just the most famous hole in the world, but it might be one of the toughest. Carnoustie has the 18th, Augusta National has Amen Corner and St. Andrews has the Road Hole, a test of golf so tough that they made the 18th easy just so you could have a break on your way in.

This year will be the first time that St. Andrews has used a new tee on the Road Hole, pushed back some 40 yards, onto the regular driving range for the St. Andrews Links.

The new tee has brought about a ton of controversy amongst the locals, and is going to change the hole dramatically for the players. First, players are forced to hit driver, a change from Tiger Woods and his choice for a fairway metal for his past Opens. A driver over an old railway shed will be the line, unless the wind is into the players.

If that is the case, look for some of the shorter players to bail out left, into the second fairway, and play the hole like a par-5.

If there isn't any wind, players must hit a good driver over the shed and face a second shot somewhere around 200 yards. Depending on the flag, players will either pick the left side of the green or the right side of the green, but never the middle, because that is where the lone bunker on this hole sits, the Road Hole Bunker, which has ended many Open bids in the past.

A long second shot to this skinny green could end up on the road, which is still in play, or against the wall, which is also in play. If the pin is back left, players will intentionally miss the green left in hopes of a pitch and a putt for a par. If you miss the green short and right, a false front makes a two putt all the more treacherous.

They say this in major championship golf a lot, but it is never truer than on the Road Hole: Par is an incredible, incredible score.

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