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ROYAL TROON

TROON CHAMPIONSHIP COURSE

Royal Troon is one of the great names of Scottish, indeed, of world golf. The town of Troon is the west coast’s golfing epicentre, like St Andrews is on the east.

 

Founded 1878
Yardage Championship course blue tees 7208 yds
Par 71
Golf Digest World Ranking 76th in the world
Handicap Restrictions certified handicaps of Gentlemen 20 and Ladies 30

 

Royal Troon Championship Course

The Course itself

The Royal Troon Championship Course is a traditional out and back nine played along classic links land. It therefore has a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde personality about it. The links has a predictable, and reasonably omni-present wind to contend with. This was never more apparent then the 2016 Open Championship when players completed the outward nine in a total -28 under, but were taxed for a combined score of +2131 over and their return trip. Players should make their scores on the outward nine. Pro’s will frequently post an opening burst that has you scrambling for the record books. That’s when things change though. The prevailing north-westerly usually makes the back nine extremely difficult. The opening holes offer good scoring opportunities throughout. Having teased you into thinking that you were in the process of compiling something ‘special’, the score suddenly starts to fall away from you. The closing four holes are often held to be the toughest finish on the Open roster, albeit we should serve warning about the stretch 10, 11, and 12; Troon’s very ‘Amen Corner’. Put it like this. At the 2016 Open Championship, (which surrendered two scores of 63 on two separate days) the average score for these three holes was 13.203, or 4.40 per hole. You have to take the three worst years on record for Amen Corner, a combined total of 13.234, or 4.41 per hole, to match it for difficulty. That’s how tough Troon’s turn is.

Until the tee on the fourteenth at St Andrews was pushed back, the sixth at Troon, (strangely, called ‘Turnberry’) used to be the Longest hole on the Open roster. It still measures 601yds today. Having negotiated the longest hole, Mr Hyde reveals himself at the par 3, eighth, ‘the Postage Stamp’. At a mere 123yds this the shortest on the Open roster, and ‘the stamp’ recently pipped the ‘Road Hole’ at St Andrews in a poll of Championship Pro’s to find their favourite hole on the roster.

123yds Sounds easy enough until you consider the size of the target and the fact that its guarded by gorse bushes, bunkers, and thick rough. Writing in Golf Illustrated Willie Park likened it to “a pitching surface skimmed down to the size of a Postage Stamp”. The name stuck.

The ‘Postage Stamp’, one delivery that doesn’t come back ‘return to sender’
– Image by Kevin Murray.

The Postage Stamp isn’t actually that hard. As with any short par 3 it does offer everyone an even chance. In 1973 Gene Sarazen aced it, and followed up the next day with a birdie. Having said that, there are no shortage of doubles here too, and that wrecks morale. Imagine having to sign for a five for just 123yds!

Perhaps the most evil hole of the lot though is the 11th; The Railway Hole. An out of bounds down the right (the railway line itself) and a jungle of gorse to the left has caught out many a victim. No lesser soul than Tiger Woods perished here on his Open debut. Having put a field to the sword by 12 shots at Augusta a few months earlier great things were expected of his links coronation, great things that was until he ran into this particularly beast and recorded a triple

The 2016 Open Championship looks destined to go down in golfing folklore as a classic to rival Turnberry’s, 1997, ‘Duel in the Sun’. Once again the Railway Hole cemented it’s place in the chamber of horrors. An average score of 4.559 ensured it played the most difficult all week, and this was with the tees moved up to give golfer’s a chance. By the time Henrik Stenson was lifting the claret jug the 11th hole had added more illustrious scalps to its golfing graveyard. Dustin Johnson (7) Bubba Watson (7) Rickie Fowler (8) and Louis Oosthuizen (9) had all joined the list of casualties

The Railway Hole, seen from the tee playing into a parched summer fairway. In 1962 Jack took a 10 here – Image by Kevin Murray.

The Royal Troon Championship Course is far from being all about two holes however. The tenth, identified by Gary Player as the most challenging, is a nasty dog-leg left. The tee shot is played blind over two sandhills to an invisible fairway on faith. Gorse abounds either side and will gladly devour anything that isn’t paying attention! This is one tough hole and ranked third hardest at the 2016 Open.

The fifteenth, ‘Crosbie’, is another minefield. At 499 yds its the longest par 4 on the links. On the Saturday of the 2016 Open Championship it actually eclipsed the ‘Railway Hole’ as the toughest hole on offer. Indeed, were it not for the presence of the said Railway Hole, you sense ‘Crosbie’ would be talked about with the same sense of dread. Two truly struck and mighty shots are the only way of playing this hole. ‘Crosbie’ was the decisive hole in the 2016 ‘High Noon at Troon’. After having gained the green in regulation, Henrik Stenson holed a 40ft putt here to first establish daylight between himself and Phil Mickelson and a very unlikely birdie

The 18th is noteworthy too, and overlooked by the distinctive Royal Troon clubhouse which once upon a time used to be a railway carriage. The secret here is to avoid the bunkers. In 1989 Greg Norman held a two-shot play-off lead but as he stood on the tee with Mark Calcavecchia it was all square again. The ‘shark’ paid the penalty. Despite thinking it to be outside of his range, he found the bunker to the right of the fairway. Ambition got the better of judgement as he went for the green. His second found its way into the left centre bunker that guards the green. Finally his escape turned disaster into tragedy. He hit a ‘flyer’ and skipped through the putting surface to the out-of-bounds path behind, in front of the clubhouse. It was all over. The American lifted the claret jug

The Royal Troon Championship Course is a thrilling rollercoaster ride punctuated with its humps and hollows that will test your accuracy and patience on the front. Throw in deep rough, interspersed with gorse and broom, and you quickly start to appreciate that accurate shot making is essential here. Troon is really the home of the ‘lost ball’.
Winds harangue you throughout, whilst gorse and a railway line can make the return treacherous on your back nine. This is a golf course that lets you know you’re in a fight.

 

TO VIEW THE HOLE-BY-HOLE GUIDE TO ROYAL TROON CHAMPIONSHIP COURSE CLICK ON CLUB CREST

Buggy hire, Trolleys, Caddies and Clubs

Royal Troon is practically unique amongst the ‘Open’ courses in that it does provide buggy/ cart hire

 

Driving Range Available Yes
Rental Carts Available Yes
Rental Trolleys Yes
Caddies Yes
Rental Clubs Available Yes
Pro Shop Yes
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