The Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland rests on sand, not rock, but it might as well have been chiseled from rock, as little as the layout has changed in the course of the past 150 years. That would seem especially true of its 17th hole, the Road Hole, the long par 4 with a blind tee shot over buildings and an awkward approach to a diagonal perched green guarded by a piece of pavement and a wall on one side and a black-hole-looking bunker on the other.
Its timeless nature is showcased in Golf Digest's new video on the 17th Hole at The Old Course, the second in our new series on individual golf holes we’ve dubbed “The Hole At.” Visually, there's virtually no change between the hole as it existed in 1910 and as it exists today. But as we point out, subtle but significant changes to the Road Hole have occurred in the past century. Par dropped from 5 to 4 while its length increased. The blind tee shot was eliminated, then restored. Out of bounds stakes were established, but none anywhere near the road.
As you view the video, keep in mind a curious fact not mentioned. In 1948, the St. Andrews Town Council passed a resolution to plant a row of Douglas firs along the 17th hole to obscure what they felt was an unsightly entrance to the railway yards. After a vigorous protest from local golfers, the idea was dropped, but just imagine how different the Road Hole would look today with a row of pine trees along its perimeter.
Watch the video below:
• • •
Explore Golf Digest's recently relaunched Places to Play community, where you can add star ratings and reviews for all the courses you play. We've collected tens of thousands of reviews from our course-ranking panelists to deliver a premium experience, which includes experts' opinions, bonus course photography and videos, plus much more. Check it out here!