11 July 2016
The Open, the oldest major in golf, is set to be held at Royal Troon this week. The championship length is 7,190 yards and is a par 71. The course is host to deceivingly tight fairways, wispy long grass, gorse and tricky pot hole bunkers.
Most people describe Royal Troon as a game of two halves. The front nine gives the impression it is wide open with its lack of trees or gorse but the fairways are lined with tall wispy rough and perfectly placed bunkers to collect any off line tee shot. The back nine on the other hand has more gorse lined fairways especially in the loop 9th, 10th 11th and 12th. There are less bunkers on the back nine 36 bunkers to be exact, versus the 60 bunkers that defend the front nine.
Royal Troon’s most famous hole is the par 3 Postage Stamp. It is the shortest hole in championship golf at a mere 123 yards, but don’t let its length fool you. The tee box is raised above the green making it very open to the elements. If the wind is coming straight off the Firth of Clyde the hole suddenly becomes longer. You have to carry your shot over a grassy gully onto a long but very narrow green. The green is surrounded by five bunkers, one that is rightfully named the Coffin bunker due to its deep but narrow characteristics. This short hole is not a guaranteed par and has seen a few high scores in its Open championship history. In 1997 a young 21-year-old Tiger Woods walked off the 8th green with a triple bogey six after finding a bunker with his tee shot.
The hardest hole on Royal Troon is called The Railway hole, number 11th. It is 482 yards in length and its average score in the 2004 Open was 4.41. In 1962 the year Arnold Palmer won at Troon, Jack Nicklaus recorded a quintuple bogey on this hole. It has out of bounds all the way up the right side and gorse bushes all down the left side of the fairway. The tee shot is also blind due to deep gorse bushes in front of the tee. This hole is all about accuracy and you will see a lot of players taking a shorter club or iron off this tee to take the gorse and railway out of play. If there is the likelihood of windy conditions during the championship week, be prepared to see a few high scores on this hole.
Royal Troon is an exciting test, it’s an original links course with its pot hole bunkers and rock solid fairways. The greens are small and the majority of the trouble is found at the front of them. To score well at Troon you need a strong short game and stick to a game plan off the tee. The last six winners at Troon have been from the U.S. so it will be interesting to see if the Europeans can stop this trend at Troon.
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