Hole of the Day – No. 13 at Royal Liverpool

How a par 3 stole the day during the second round of the Open Championship


Today at Royal Liverpool, the onshore wind was a major challenge on the holes near the Dee estuary. Nos. 11-14 all play north along the dune ridge, and all reward players who can flight their ball against a wind coming off the left, from the water. The par 4s (11, 12, and 14) all turn to the left and camber to the right, meaning that any tee shots with left-to-right spin—such as a right-hander reliant on a fade would impart—are no good unless they start well over the dunes to the left. Since many top players prefer to hit a fade off the tee, it’s unsurprising that these fairways were the three hardest to hit in round two: 34% of the field found the fairway on 11, 33% on 12, and 40% on 14.

But the shot I most enjoyed watching was the mid-iron into the par-3 13th.

Courtesy of Sam Cooper

As Hoylake member and researcher Joe McDonnell explained on our Wednesday podcast, the “Alps” hole went through several iterations in the early years of the course. At one point, it was blind, playing over a dune to a green in a hollow—a less dramatic version of the Maiden at Royal St. George’s or the Dell at Lahinch.

In the 1920s, architect Harry Colt moved the hole to its current location.

Although the green and its surrounds have been reshaped a few times, Colt’s basic design concept has survived: a narrow putting surface nestled in the dunes and angled toward the estuary. A right-to-left ball flight isn’t fully required, but a strong left-to-right shape is a liability, especially since short left (native grasses) and long right (short-grass runoffs) are bad places to miss. When the wind pushes in from the left, as it did today, players have to control their spin and trajectory for the ball to hold its line and find the green. It’s a simple, satisfying shot to watch the best golfers in the world execute.

This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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