Royal Mayfair's big test

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

The best female players in the world are about to challenge one of Edmonton's best courses - the Royal Mayfair.

Established in 1922, the Stanley Thompson-designed course (tweaked in 1990 by Les Furber) is as primped and primed as it'll ever be. Sculpted to LPGA specifications by the Royal Canadian Golf Association, it'll play 6,565 yards (Par 71), featuring a challenging mix of long, tree-lined par 4s, medium to long par 3s and Par 5s that only the longest hitters will dare trying to reach in two.

Hole 1: Par 4 (417 yards)

Hall of Fame golfer Bobby Locke said this is one of the best opening holes he's ever played. The elevated tee provides a nice launching pad while the tree-lined fairway and well-bunkered green will give players an idea of what to expect. They'll be hitting drivers off the tee and long irons into a protected green.

Hole 2: Par 4 (331 yards)

One of the few holes where everyone is thinking birdie.

Short enough that they can hit hybrids or fairway metals off the tee and still leave themselves a wedge to the green. Key here is getting it close because the green is elevated, undulated and, like all of them here, guarded by sand.

Hole 3: Par 5 (518 yards)

A sharp dogleg will leave them too far from the green to go for it in two. All they'll need to do is place it in the landing area at the corner, so fairway wood is all they'll need off the tee. From there, they'll want to lay it up to their preferred attack distance (from 110 to 130) and try to make birdie by putting a wedge shot close.

A long, two-tiered green offers all kinds of pin-placement flexibility.

Hole 4: Par 3 (170 yards)

Enjoy it: a mid-iron shot to a receptive green. It's longish, but if they can avoid the traps, this is one of the easier par 3s they're going to see.

Hole 5: Par 4 (409 yards)

Mayfair turns it up a notch with this one. It's long - players tee off from a low-lying area, uphill to a tiered fairway - with bunkers threatening from just left of the landing area. Tough driving hole. A solid drive still leaves them 150 to 170 yards in. Par is good here.

Hole 6: Par 4 (346 yards)

Go for it. Not much trouble off the tee, so they can jump on a driver and leave themselves a wedge. The green is elevated, but making four is like a bogey.

Hole 7: Par 4 (412 yards)

Nice look from an elevated tee box to a fairway that opens up a little. There are only three holes (Nos. 3, 6 and 7) where players can see another fairway. A solid drive will leave the average hitters 140 to 160 out.

Hole 8: Par 3 (178 yards)

It's fairly long and the green is narrow. Makes for a tough target. And the ever-present bunkers give players something more to think about.

Hole 9: Par 4 (417 yards)

Tough driving hole because it's tight, but still long enough that they won't be able to hide behind a fairway wood off the tee. Moving the tee shot from left to right is important, leaving a nice angle of approach from between 130 and 160.

Hole 10: Par 5 (463 yards)

It's not long, but a forced lay-up off the tee (unless they want to try a 250-yard carry over water) turns it into a three shot hole. "You might have a few - Laura Davies or Michelle Wie, who try to clear the water and go for it in two," said head pro Eric Thorsteinson.

If they clear the water they'll only have about 180 in, with OB left of the green.

Hole 11: Par 3 (203 yards)

The wind often gets involved with this hole, making a long par 3 even harder. It's usually in a player's face, or blows across the fairway, calling club selection in question. Water by the green makes the target seem even smaller.

Hole 12: Par 4 (411 yards)

A slight dogleg right, but not sharp enough that they can't hit driver off the tee. Put it in the right fairway bunker and it's almost a sure bogey. Hit the fairway and they'll still have 160 to 170 in.

Hole 13: Par 4 (372 yards)

Short but sassy, this one is. All they need is a fairway wood off the tee, and that's all they'll want to hit, with the bunkers on the left and right. Accuracy off the tee is crucial. The green is slightly elevated with a mound in front that likes to kick approach shots off line.

Hole 14: Par 5 (528 yards)

Another par 5 that's going to be a three-shot hole for most of the ladies. Bunkers guard the right side of the first landing area, but they'll want to be on the left side anyway to have any shot of reaching in two because the fairway bends.

Hole 15: Par 4 (396 yards)

Dogleg right with bunkers discouraging players from trying to cut the corner. Mounding on the left keeps balls from running into the trees. Tree-lined, two-tiered fairway will keep 'em honest.

Hole 16: Par 3 (157 yards)

Uphill, slightly, but nothing here that'll have them thinking about anything other than getting it close. They'll be able to dial it in on a big, receptive green. If there's a hole-in-one to be had this week, it'll be here.

Hole 17: Par 4 (420 yards)

It's uphill and turns to the left through the trees, so shaping the ball off the tee will be very helpful. Careful, the tree-line on the right is closer than it looks.

The green is well bunkered on the left with a grass bunker on the right front.

Hole 18: Par 4 (402 yards)

Driver off the tee will leave a challenging long-iron approach. Should make for some great theatre on the weekend, and an amphitheatre-style green will be great for viewers. If someone needs a birdie coming home, 14, 15 and 16 are the best places to get them, while 17 and 18 are going to be tough.


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