Ranking the toughest holes at St Andrews

·3 min read

Ranking the toughest holes at St Andrews originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

St Andrews is one of the most historic and scenic golf courses in the world, but don’t let nostalgia trick you into thinking a round of 18 will be an easy stroll.

The sport’s top players are back at the Old Course this weekend competing for the Claret Jug. As the 2022 Open Championship cut has already shown, even all-time greats are no match for the course.

What makes St Andrews so hard? Well, the course features a number of tricky holes, including one of the most notorious in all of professional golf. Those turbulent spots on the course make it all the more important to capitalize on some of the easier holes sprinkled throughout.

Here are the holes that make St Andrews one of the most iconic and challenging settings in golf:

What is the hardest hole at St Andrews?

The 17th hole at St Andrews is where the rubber meets the road.

The infamous “Road Hole” is far and away the Old Course’s toughest. When the British Open was last held there in 2015, there were more bogeys (217) than pars (203) and golfers scored 0.66 shots over par on average. No other hole got players to average more than 0.24 strokes above par during the event.

Distance is just one factor that makes the Road Hole so tough. At 495 yards, it is one of the longest Par 4s you will find.

On top of the length, there are also obstacles between the tee and the pin. The Old Course Hotel stands in the way, along with a daunting bunker and one last peril near the hole.

How did the Road Hole at St Andrews get its name?

The furthest obstacle on No. 17 at St Andrews is the namesake for the hole.

Players that hit a shot to the right of the green run the risk of having to chip off an actual road.

What is the easiest hole at St Andrews?

The best spot to save a stroke at St Andrews is the fifth hole.

Nicknamed “Hole O’Cross Out,” players averaged a 4.46 score on the 570-yard Par 5 in 2015. It’s one of just two Par 5s on the course, and players have a shot to reach the green in two shots depending on the wind.

Full difficulty ranking of holes at St Andrews

Using numbers from the 2015 British Open (h/t Golf Channel), here is a hardest-to-easiest ranking of every hole at the Old Course based on how much over or under par the average score was:

  • No. 17 (Par 4): +0.66

  • No. 16 (Par 4): +0.24

  • No. 13 (Par 4): +0.19

  • No. 4 (Par 4): +0.15

  • No. 15 (Par 4): +0.11

  • No. 11 (Par 3): +0.09

  • No. 2 (Par 4): +0.04

  • No. 8 (Par 3): +0.04

  • No. 12 (Par 4): +0.01

  • No. 14 (Par 5): +0.01

  • No. 3 (Par 4): -0.14

  • No. 6 (Par 4): -0.14

  • No. 1 (Par 4): -0.16

  • No. 9 (Par 4): -0.19

  • No. 7 (Par 4): -0.20

  • No. 18 (Par 4): -0.21

  • No. 10 (Par 4): -0.22

  • No. 5 (Par 5): -0.54