The Open Championship at Royal St. George’s: What Would You Shoot?
Gary Player recently ranked Royal St. George’s as the easiest golf course in the British Open rota.
The only caveat?
The notoriously unpredictable weather and often blustery wind off the English Channel. The 2011 playing of The Open being a case in point, as players battled torrential rains and winds gusting above 40 miles-per-hour.
Who can forget the images of then 22-year-old Rickie Fowler in his cream-coloured Puma rain suit and mittens with his drenched “flow” hanging down from his over-sized ball cap?
With preliminary forecasts for Sandwich, U.K. calling for temps in the low 70s and high 60s with (gasp) plenty of sunshine, players might be looking to go low on the late 1880s design by Dr. William Laidlaw Purves.
But then again, we’ll have to check the weather on Thursday morning and get back to you on that prediction.
Arccos Members at Royal St. George’s
As for Arccos members, they’ve never let a wee bit of wind and rain keep them from playing Royal St. George’s. In fact, they’ve logged 156 rounds on this storied links layout.
As one might expect of a golf course Golf Digest calls “opaque, rumpled and confounding,” members who’ve played here are of the experienced sort, boasting an Arccos handicap average of 9.2.
With an average score of 83.5, it’s fair to say that Royal St. George’s challenges, if not confounds, Arccos members. Like many courses designed to play to a par of 70, its strength lies in its brawny par 4s.
Two of its two-shotters, holes four and 15, stretch to nearly 500 yards. No surprise, they are the No. 2 and 1 handicap holes, respectively. Three other par 4s register between 450 and 492 yards, including the 450-yard 18th, which played as the third hardest hole in 2011 and to a scoring average of 4.6 in 1985.
Strokes Gained Analytics
Using Arccos Strokes Gained Analytics feature, we’re able to see where members are gaining or losing strokes across five categories: overall, driving, approach, short game and putting. On average, they’re dropping 8.79 strokes over the duration of Royal St. George’s tumultuous 7,200-plus yards.
Long par 4s lead to approach shots with long irons, hybrids and even fairway metals, so it stands to reason that Arccos members are losing 2.49 strokes per round on approach shots. But as any U.S.-based golfer will profess, the driving game is an entirely different animal on the links venues of the U.K. and Ireland.
Architectural changes to Royal St. George’s in advance of the 1981 Open Championship eliminated a fistful of blind shots, but for first-timers, standing on the tee box and feeling confident about the proper line and optimal landing area can be fleeting.
Arccos members are losing 3.3 strokes per round driving, which considering the elements and overall difficulty of a major championship venue, is downright respectable. Further complicating tee shots, a driver isn’t always the best club off the tee on par 4s and 5s on links-style courses.
Arccos Caddie A.I.-Powered GPS Rangefinder
Arccos Caddie’s A.I. Powered GPS Rangefinder is a stroke saver on any golf course, especially one as vexing as Royal St. George’s.
Using this proprietary feature, players see how wind speed, direction, temperature, humidity and altitude impact their shots in real-time. The altitude calculation is even personalised to Arccos members based on any altitude differential between their home course and the one they’re playing.
Just as importantly, they can also get precise distances to hazards, bunkers, landing areas and any point on the greens (not just front, centre and back). For example, the famed 496-yard par-4 fourth hole features the enormous “Himalayan” bunker – the second tallest in England at 40 feet – guarding its right side.
The A.I. Powered GPS Rangefinder displays the Arccos Caddie Number – the true distance needed to carry this gargantuan hazard and reach the flat, broad landing area beyond it known as the Elysian Fields.
Arccos Caddie Preview
How would you fare at Royal St. George’s this week? With the Arccos Caddie Preview, members can download any of the 40,000-plus courses in the Arccos library to see how their game stacks up.
Integrated with real-time, cloud-based meteorological data, you can “play along” during the Open Championship to see which clubs and distances you’d have in comparison to the field.
Arccos Caddie Preview offers “Optimal” and “Alternate” strategies with a forecast of the number of strokes required to “get down” for each.
And having multiple ways to play a hole is vital on links courses. In 1934, Henry Cotton drove the green on the par-4 first hole at Royal St. George’s, carding an eagle, while in 1993, Jerry Kelly carded an unimaginable 11.
The screenshots below show Optimal and Alternate strategies for the No. 1 handicap hole, the par-4, 496-yard 15th. Both call for hitting the green in three shots with only .2 strokes difference between them.
Armed with this knowledge, this Arccos member could opt to play it safe with a 5-iron off the tee and a 60-degree into the green. An 8-iron is recommended for both second shots, so the difference boils down to a 60-degree versus a 53-degree wedge on the approach shot.
Given the three cross bunkers guarding this small, saucer-shaped green, the loft provided by either of those clubs should be more than enough to arrive safely.
Looking to become an Arccos Caddie Member, order your Arccos Caddie Bundle today!