Royal Birkdale - Course changes 2008

Royal Birkdlae


Described by five times Open Champion Peter Thomson as “man sized but not a monster” the course at Royal Birkdale Golf Club has recently undergone a number of modifications that further enhance that assessment while posing new challenges to the world’s greatest golfers.

The course modifications have been agreed between The R&A and the Club and have been completed with the assistance of course architect, Martin Hawtree. His brief was to “tighten up” the course without resorting to an excessive increase in length. Particular attention has been paid to introducing tee shots that give players a number of strategic options, and making players execute more imaginative recovery shots around the greens.

The resultant changes include a new green at 17, while alterations have been made to greens and their immediate surrounds at 5, 8 and 14. The surrounds on four other greens have been significantly re-contoured.

There are 20 new hazards - 16 fairway and 4 greenside bunkers. A further 27 bunkers have been redesigned and 14 bunkers have been removed. There are 123 bunkers in total on the course; a net increase of 6.

There are six new Championship tees, with 8 and 13 having been re-built.

Changes have also been made to seven of the eighteen fairways, the most significant being alterations to the line of play on 3, 9, 11, 16 and 17, with the fairway on 9 moving 25 yards to the left.

There have been several significant landscape changes including the creation and alteration of mounds on 2, 9, 15, 16 and 17. These will not only increase the challenge of these holes but also provide further natural vantage points for spectators to view the championship.

The total length of the Championship course is 7173 yards, which is an increase of 155 yards.




Course modifications will reward accuracy and enhance the strategic challenge for the world’s leading players.


Additional yardage is measured at 155 or 2% over the 1998 Open Championship distance.

Hole 1, 450 yards, Par 4

Tough opening hole that requires a good drive. Changes reward the more accurate 2nd shot. Bunkering has been tightened into the green and new greenside mounding and contouring adds to the difficulty of the approach.

Hole 2, 421 yards, Par 4

Tee shot has been toughened by the addition of 45 yards of new mounding on the left side of the fairway and new bunkering, right, both at drive distance.

Hole 3, 451 yards, par 4

Extensive modification includes a new tee, dramatically, set back in the high dunes and producing a very challenging tee shot. New bunkering is introduced to the left side of the fairway at drive distance. A previously flat green surround is transformed with new mounding and contouring and the addition of a bunker, front right, puts a premium on approach shot accuracy.

Hole 4, 201yards, Par 3

Very challenging Par 3. Tightened bunkering into the green and new mounding introduced to the right of the green.

Hole 5, 346 yards, Par 4

Short Par 4. Tightened bunkering into the green demands accuracy from the second shot and a greater variety of hole locations is made possible by widening the right side of the green.

Hole 6, 499 yards, Par 4

Magnificent Par 4 converted to one of the world’s best. A new back tee challenges the opening shot and new bunkering features on the left side of the fairway, at 303 yards, and also set into the left side of the green.

Hole 7, 178 yards, Par 3

No modification to this outstanding Par 3.

Hole 8, 457 yards, Par 4

The challenge of the tee shot is increased dramatically by added fairway bunkering, left at 267 yards and right at 307 yards. Green extended to provide greater variety of pin positions.

Hole 9, 414 yards, Par 4

Routing is considerably altered to produce a, left to right, dogleg. Extensive new mounding on the right adds hazard for those tempted to cut the corner. New front left bunker presents added danger to the second shot.

Hole 10, 408 yards, Par 4

Championship tee moved to the right to improve the line of play. Strategic bunkering is repositioned on the left side of the fairway. Anyone hitting a weak tee shot will find this hole extremely demanding.

Hole 11, 436 yards, Par 4

Into the prevailing Westerly wind this is a tough Par 4 from the new back tee. Green offers many potentially demanding pin positions.

Hole 12, 184 yards, Par 3

Magnificent Par 3 with no modification.

Hole 13, 499 yards, Par 4

Tough Par 4, made more so by revised fairway bunkering. Stiff second shot.

Hole 14, 201 yards, Par 3

Already superb Par 3 enhanced by more aggressive bunkering and contouring around the green.

Hole 15, 544 yards, Par 5

The addition of new fairway bunkering and mounding at the green approach makes this a demanding Par 5. The removal of trees on the left opens up the links aspect of the hole.

Hole 16, 439 yards, Par 4

New back tee has made this a fearsome tee shot against the prevailing Westerly wind. Re-contouring around the green and the removal of trees to the rear present an open appearance and a less defined target.

Hole 17, 572 yards, Par 5

The famous 17th features 2 challenging new bunkers on the right side of the fairway at 316 and 320 yards. A more demanding 2nd shot is created by the ingress of bunkers and mounds, narrowing the fairway. The green is moved back and raised.

Hole 18, 473 yards. Par 4

Remains a strong finishing hole. New fairway bunkering is added at 304 yards, on the left side of the fairway, challenging the tee shot.