Plan of attack: How to play Royal Links Golf Club

By Bill Bowman, Contributor

LAS VEGAS -- Face it, most of us won't get the chance to play the holes associated with the British Open golf courses.

18 Holes | Public | Par: 72 | 7029 yards
Royal Links Golf Club - No. 12
The 12th hole at Royal Links Golf Club measures 473 yards, the longest par 4 on the course.
Royal Links Golf Club - No. 12Royal Links Golf Club - No. 16Royal Links GC in Las Vegas - No. 18Royal Links golf course - No. 6

But at Royal Links Golf Club in Las Vegas, you can tee it up on holes that resemble those tests that have thrilled the best golfers in the world. The Dye Designs layout stretches to just more than 7,000 yards, and these holes are designed to look, feel and play like the originals in Scotland.

That means they come complete with challenging hazards. Grab your clubs and a caddie, head for the golf course and get ready to tee it up for a memorable round.

A word to the wise

Listen to your caddie at Royal Links. That's a must. If he says the best shot is to lay up, do it. Check your ego at the door and realize these caddies know the best targets, the places to miss and the places from which you just can't afford to play --- like the many deep and perfectly-placed bunkers.

"On the tee box, because of the British Open style, it can be tough to figure out the best place to hit it," General Manager Charles Bombard said, "and that's why the caddies are so important."

It's time to be aggressive

Players get the chance to score on the first hole. The opener is a par-4 that plays just 334 yards. But put that driver away. Those pesky bunkers creep into play in the landing area, so a hybrid or long iron off the tee will set up an easy approach shot to a receptive green.

A birdie here will put a smile on your face and a circle on your scorecard. Then there's the finale, the par-5 18th that reaches just 520 yards. But heed the warning.

"It's the largest fairway on the course," Bombard said, "and it's got a very large green, so there's definitely a chance for players to get home in two. But if players don't make it, there's a good chance they will wind up in the 'Hell Bunker,' and that's definitely not a good place to be."

While the first and last holes present chances to attack, other holes offer opportunities for aggressive play, depending on the positioning of the drive.

"Finding the fairways here is real important," Bombard said. "Miss the fairway, and players will find very difficult shots out of the heather."

Risk/reward at Royal Links Golf Club

In a classic risk-reward design, the 11th hole at Royal Links G.C., a 335-yard par-4, offers options: Lay up off the tee and get a wedge into the green, or give it a go with the driver.

While there are no bunkers here, avoid the gorse if you're looking for put up a birdie or par.

Be careful here

Your caddie will alert you to trouble spots, and, like at the British Open golf courses, missing the fairway proves problematic.

Two of the tougher holes look easier than they play -- the long, par-5 fourth, measuring 621 yards from the tips, and the short, 126-yard, par-3 eighth.

"The fourth is definitely a three-shot hole, so players need to set themselves up for a good approach shot," Bombard said. "And No. 8, the 'Postage Stamp' hole, renders more triple-bogeys than any other hole on the course, so despite it being so short, it's still very tough."

Scenic beauty, with a challenge

Then there's the hole about which players have heard and dreamed -- the par-4 10th, a replica of the famous Road Hole from St. Andrews. It plays long at 467 yards and doglegs to the right, coming complete with the huge scoreboard and the famous wall that runs the entire right side.

Whether players hit it over the scoreboard or play a fade off the tee, the second shot here is crucial. Don't be short or you'll land in the Road Hole bunker, which is easy to find but devilish to escape.

"You really have to be accurate off the tee and from the fairway," Bombard said. "It's a difficult approach shot with that Road Hole bunker guarding the small green. It's a tough hole."

But it's a hole that -- if players can make that birdie or par putt -- will provide plenty of the satisfaction.

Play Royal Links G.C. smart and with caution -- just as if you're actually across the pond.

Bill BowmanBill Bowman, Contributor

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 16-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas and has teed it up for magazine profiles with celebrities including comedian Bill Engvall, actor Jeffrey Donovan (USA's Burn Notice), ESPN personality Colin Cowherd, NASCAR's Kurt Busch, Collective Soul's Ed Roland, the Baltimore Ravens' Jonathan Ogden and many others.

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