July 13, 2010
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 and No. 5. Now we will look at the all important 11th, a par-3 playing 174 yards.
There are only two par-3s at St. Andrews, with the 11th being by far the more difficult of the two. Sitting just 174 yards out, with a tee perched as high as any point on the golf course, a player can hit anything from a pitching wedge to a 4-iron, depending on how the wind is blowing.
The 11th is interesting for a number of reasons. First, it crisscrosses the par-4 7th hole, making a regular day at St. Andrews look like some kind of golfing parade. Players are all over the place between these two holes, making the wait for this tee shot all the more difficult. Second is the dreaded Strath Bunker, arguably the toughest bunker on the entire golf course because it sits dead in the center of the line off the tee. A pin tucked behind Strath means the player is bailing out left, and hoping a pitch and a putt leads to a 3.
The wind can howl on this hole, and if you go long, you're basically looking at bogey at best. The green is severely slopped, so even if you find the putting surface from the tee, you are still struggling to get down in two.
As history at St. Andrews goes, the story of Bobby Jones is one of the most famous, and talked about between caddie and player, out there. Jones came to the 11th in his first-ever British in 1921, and took three shots to exit a bunker, only to rip up his scorecard and storm off the golf course.
In Tiger Woods' two wins at St. Andrews, he has played this difficult hole 1-under, with no bogeys.