ItÂs a par-70 and itÂs 7,211 yards long. Royal St GeorgeÂs at Sandwich, in Kent doesnÂt sound that intimidating, but, despite the ostensibly quaint name of the town, itÂs no picnic.
And the last time the Open Championship was played there, it produced a surprise winner in Ben Curtis in 2003. He caught flak for his victory, but it was hardly his fault he coped better than anyone else with really difficult conditions.
In mid-July, the fairways will be firm, and the bounces which characterise the game on links courses will be big and unpredictable. The only consolation for players is that, with the unexpectedly low rainfall in the area recently, the rough is not going to be as punitive as it was in 2003.
ÂThere was no rain here between February and May, virtually not a drop,Â the R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said. ÂThe rain has come back to average level and the course has greened up. The rough is patchy Â it is not huge. I am hoping for not too much hacking out, but it will be a factor in distance control.Â
The opening nine is a terrifying as a links course can look, and, although the homeward nine doesnÂt have the dunes the first nine does, it still has some pretty intimidating moments: The Open website says, ÂThe 15th, along with the perhaps more famous 17th at St Andrews, can stake a claim to being the toughest hole in Open Championship golf.Â
For a hole-by-hole guide to the course, go to www.opengolf.com
And for a great evaluation of the course, go to globeandmail.golfcanada.ca