Irish Open 2015: Hole-by-hole guide to Royal County Down course
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is almost underway, so we've taken a look at what golfing aces, such as Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia, will have to overcome if they are to clinch the coveted title.
1: Par 5, 539 yards
A relatively straightforward opener with a par five reachable in two for most, with a generous landing area off the tee. The long deep green is receptive to hybrid approaches and, like most of the putting surfaces, leans towards Dundrum Bay.
2: Par 4, 444 yards
The first blind tee shot and a daunting one with all kinds of danger lurking out of sight. Approaches need to avoid a grassy hollow short right of the green which slopes up from front to back.
3: Par 4, 477 yards
Longer hitters will aim to carry the fairway bunker left to leave the best line into the green. The putting surface is one of the flattest on the course but has a reputation as one of the most difficult to read.
4: Par 3, 228 yards
The longest short hole on the course which will need a long iron or hybrid off the tee. Three bunkers lie short of the green and another two right behind them and all must be avoided.
5: Par 4, 448 yards
Once again the fairway is unsighted from the green and a host of bunkers are waiting for anything leaked right off the tee. The green is guarded by bunkers at the front and by banks of heather on the other three sides.
6: Par 4, 398 yards
One of the shortest par fours but also one of the most difficult from a tight blind tee shot to the approach to a small and fiendishly difficult green. Chips to be avoided if at all possible.
7: Par 3, 145 yards
Sand is the major obstacle with one bunker to the front of the green, two pot bunkers to the back and one large one to the right which will gobble up anything which lands the wrong side of the
8: Par 4, 430 yards
The wind dominates on the highest hole on the course and the second shot can be anything from a three wood to a wedge. The narrow green is a notoriously quick putting surface. For members it is stroke index one.
9: Par 4, 486 yards
The most picturesque, but imposing hole on the course. Players cannot see the landing area of the green despite the elevated tee.
Even a good drive leaves a difficult second to one of the more undulating greens.
10: Par 3, 181 yards
Strong par three with four bunkers protecting the green. The safe play is to the left half of the green usually leaving a long birdie putt. Anything else flirts with considerable danger.
11: Par 4, 440 yards
Another blind tee shot but with one of the more generous landing areas over the hill. Three bunkers protect the green and there is a patch of dead ground just in front of the putting surface to avoid as well.
12: Par 5, 527 yards
Some monstrous bunkers lie in wait for errant tee shots and are the penalty for anyone seeking a short cut to a birdie. It is reachable in two and top players will relish the opportunity for eagle.
13: Par 4, 444 yards
High dunes down both sides of the fairway dominate the view from the tee. The fairway doglegs from left to right. The green is surrounded on three sides by high dunes which will make it a key viewing point.
14: Par 3, 212 yards
With the green sloping from front to back the players can have a little fun from the elevated tee. But five bunkers guard the front and for wild shots there is a pond over to the left.
15, Par 4, 467 yards
A tough second as anything over 300 yards off the tee will roll into the rough. The narrow green slopes away on all sides leaving difficult
16: Par 4, 337 yards
The longer hitters will be tempted to take the driver and the green is just about in range for them. But it’s a small target for those laying up, there’s plenty of trouble to find through the back of the green.
17: Par 4, 435 yards
The pond in the centre of the fairway is the dominant feature off the tee and the prudent play is to lay up short with a wood. It’s a tricky second from a downslope to an elevated green surrounded by seven bunkers.
18, Par 5, 550 yards
Great finishing hole back towards the mountains. No fewer than 18 bunkers line the hole and there’s danger all down the left hand side. The safe approach is to the front of the green to leave an uphill birdie or eagle putt to finish.