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5 ROYAL BIRKDALE
Architect: Lowe 2006 position: 7 Stats: 6,817 yds; par 72; SSS 75 GF: £120-£195 T: 01704 552030 W: royalbirkdale.com (opens in new tab)
When the Open visited Royal Birkdale in 2008 we saw just how punishing a tough links can be in strong winds.
Unlike many other Major venues, Birkdale has always been a stern, but fair, test – The R&A didn’t have to add too many teeth to push the world’s best to the limit.
Each hole is beautifully framed, with many high tees affording clear views of the hole (and dangers) ahead.
Often, the natural dunes create the feel of an amphitheatre, separating holes perfectly and allowing you to appreciate each individual challenge in isolation.
This is one devilishly beautiful stretch of land. NT
+ Incredibly challenging design; rich history; good visitor facilities - Expensive; too hard for many; clubhouse design divides opinion Enter your review of Royal Birkdale Down below
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In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."
Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points.
Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X
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