- +44 (0)1292 311555
35 miles S of Glasgow
May to Oct - Mon, Tue & Thu only
David L.K. Brown
Charles Hunter, George Strath, Willie Fernie, James Braid
Troon was founded in 1878 as a five-hole golf course following a meeting in the local pub by a group of golf enthusiasts. It was Charlie Hunter, Keeper of the Green at Prestwick, who laid out the original course and a few of his greens are still in play today. George Strath, Troon's first professional, later extended the course to twelve holes and then to eighteen by 1884. Willie Fernie and James Braid later modified and lengthened the layout. In 1923, Royal Troon Golf Club hosted its first Open and finally moved out of the shadow of its famous neighbour, Prestwick. (By 1923, Prestwick had already hosted 23 Open Championships).
"The course at Troon is perhaps a little overshadowed by its more famous neighbour," wrote Bernard Darwin in his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, "but it is a very fine course nevertheless, especially since it has been lengthened of late years. It has, moreover, one of the finest short holes to be found anywhere."
In 1978, Troon’s centenary year, royal patronage was bestowed. Royal Troon Golf Club remains the first (and last) club in Great Britain to have been granted Royal status under the long reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
Royal Troon is a traditional out and back links course. The opening few holes are relatively gentle, with a series of short par fours running along the Firth of Clyde. It’s from these early holes that you get the chance to soak up the views. On a clear day, you can see the distant Ailsa Craig in the south, and to the west, the majestic mountains on the Isle of Arran.
The course measures 7,208 yards from the championship tips but line is more important than distance from the tee. Bunkers are everywhere, the majority of which are not visible from the tees. There’s plenty of deep rough and a smattering of gorse and broom to punish the wayward shot. Make your score on the outward nine holes; the inward holes are severe, often playing into the prevailing northwesterly wind. The stretch of holes from the 7th to the 13th provides an interesting and varied challenge.
The 6th is the longest par five in Open Championship golf and the 8th the “Postage Stamp” is the shortest par three on the Open circuit (123 yards). The name stuck after Willie Park referred to the hole in an article for Golf Illustrated: “a pitching surface skimmed down to the size of a postage stamp”. It was here, in the 1973 Open, at the age of 71, Gene Sarazen holed out in one. The following day, he holed his bunker shot for a two at the same hole. It was an amazing return for Sarazen, who had played in Troon’s inaugural Open in 1923.
I often heard that the Old course at Royal Troon is the second least of all of the Open Championship courses, with only Royal Liverpool rated as the lowest. It is often lumped in with Royal Lytham & St Annes as well.
I understand the context of the comment, but when remembering that these are golf courses capable of hosting the world's finest players in perhaps the most significant golf tournament of the year, then one can put it in the proper context.
One reviewer noted George Peper's comment about six dull holes, six interesting holes, and six dull holes. I don't get that either and I think Mr. Peper is being a bit harsh in his critique.
Yes, the first five holes are not visually interesting with the holes running parallel to the out of bounds right with the tall grasses on the dunes. Yet the first hole offers some protective bunkers on the fairway and five bunkers fronting the green. The second has eleven bunkers and a slope on the front of the green. The third has a burn that the longer hitters will not take on as well as a green sloping away from you.
The fourth is a long par five that you must avoid the bunkers on the left in order to reach the green in two or three.
The fifth is a long par three where the wind usually determines the type of shot you will want to try to hit the green.
The sixth, the longest par five, has a green beautifully situated in the dunes.
In sum, the first six holes, while not visually interesting, are well defended and well designed.
The seventh is my favorite hole on the course, a wonderful dogleg with eleven bunkers starting from a raised tee and finishing between sand hills. It is both beautiful and strategic.
The famous eighth, the Postage Stamp, is one of the most famous par threes in golf at around 120 yards playing slightly downhill to a green defended by five very deep bunkers and a substantial fall off to the right of the green. You simply must hit the green here or you are looking at a big score relative to par.
The ninth, a dogleg par four where one must avoid the bunkers on the left with the tee shot offers an elevated green with no bunkers. It is very different to the rest of the course but still fits.
The tenth is always the hardest hole on the course for me because I have always faced the wind on the tee shot which is semi-blind and has gorse right and left on the tee shot. Once again, there are no bunkers greenside or even on this hole as the length, elevated green and narrowness of the drive are more than enough for defending the hole.
If the tenth was difficult, eleven is equally difficult with another drive that has to avoid the gorse and a long second shot that cannot be hit off to the right due to the out of bounds from the train line.
The twelfth continues the difficulty of the tee shot with gorse once again on either side of this dogleg hole. The green falls off steeply to the left.
The thirteenth is another hole without a bunker but it does not need it given the difficulty of the drive and the difficulty of the green. The fairway has numerous humps and bumps. It is an incredible golf challenge so I don't know why it is not thought of more highly.
I do find the par three fourteenth to be the easiest hole on the back nine unless the wind is howling. I think it is one of the easier greens.
The fifteenth is a long par four where if you miss the fairway, par is only likely achieved by one putting.
The sixteenth is the second easiest hole coming in, a medium length par five that has a burn that does not come into play for most players but has a well guarded green. The green is not difficult.
The seventeenth, a long par 3 is very difficult due both to length, the crowning of the green and the five deep bunkers surrounding it. It is a very difficult hole and par is an excellent score.
The eighteenth is a unique hole in that in finishes so close to the clubhouse, possibly closer than at Royal Lytham & St Annes (I actually don't want to find out).
There are bunkers everywhere on this long straight par four however the relative flatness of the green is a bit disappointing.
As I said, I like Royal Troon a lot. There may not be a tougher stretch of holes from 7-12 on a golf course so I understand Mr. Peper's comment. However, the other holes are beautifully designed even if they are visually uninteresting. Everyone should play Royal Troon Old a couple of times. If the wind is up, you might only play it once given how difficult it will play. I don't think people should complain about the green fee given how special the golf course is.
Obviously a great Open track but to be honest (like Lytham) I just didn't feel it as I though the opening stretch was a bit bland as was the close.
The best bit is definitely around the turn (including of course the famous Postage Stamp).
Really must try and get to play again to see if I get to like it better.
I played Troon 5/9/17 and had a delightful round and experience. The old course at Troon is "good" but not more when compared to other top clubs and when considering you've just paid the 230 pound visitor fee. It is all relative, I am not comparing this course to your local average muni but rather judging this course on par for its caliber. I have played about 40 of the top 100 clubs on this list, all of the Open courses, and about 30 top 100 courses in the USA.
The club house is beautiful and worth spending some time in. It has been remodeled and is lovely inside. The golf shop for an elite club was disappointing regarding it's selection of merchandise to take home. The staff all around was very welcoming and helpful throughout the day.
The golf course - it is a wonderful experience anytime you get to play an Open venue course so this is a real treat to play, but no way is it worth the price of admission and you should not go out of your way to play it. There are better courses for half the price. Holes 6, 7 - 15 & 18 are the best, the rest are average or even below average for a course of this caliber.
The bunkers are fierce as one would expect, the course conditioning was very good, the greens were a bit slow. The "sand dunes" are really only prominent on holes 7-11, otherwise holes 1-6 and 12-18 are flat (flat for a links course). The golf course really isn't beautiful or interesting, there are a few spots where the course has some interesting design features and some nice views towards the water but nothing to go crazy over. For me, holes 7-11 are the course, without those Troon is a bottom 50 course in this ranking list (sorry but it is true). I had a lovely time playing Troon and a memorable experience on an Open venue but the course is a flop (when compared to its peers at the elite end of the Top 100 list and considering the price to play it).
I’ve not played Royal Troon, but I’d suggest ignoring the above summary. For a self-confessed student of Golf architecture, this reviewer talks rather alot about poor value for money in his reviews.
All whilst handing out 6 ball reviews to ultra private (and therefore ultra expensive to join) US clubs.
Despite this irony, I guess those tracks, like most, are great value when a member signs you in. Although he clearly doesn’t have quite so many contacts in the UK, he should perhaps simply be grateful they allow him to pay a greenfee at all, and just focus on reviewing the course
Playing Royal Troon less than a fortnight after Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson had produced what is arguably the greatest golfing duel in history, and certainly the best final day of an Open Championship, was a special occasion. With the spectator grandstands still in place I really got a feel for the course that I’d witnessed on television just days previously.
The Old course at Royal Troon is not often lauded by many. It is a beautifully looking links in my opinion but it doesn’t have the stunning scenery of nearby Turnberry, the history of St. Andrews, the demands of Carnoustie, the quirk of St. Georges, the dunes of Birkdale, the reverence of Muirfield nor has it produced the great players that Hoylake has.
That said, the course exceeded my expectations and whilst I can’t really argue with any of the above statements in many ways it has a blend of everything which produces an extremely satisfying round of golf. In some ways this makes Troon a jack of all trades and master of none… but don’t fall into the trap of thinking this isn’t great golf; it’s a bloody fine links.
Undoubtedly the best part of the course is holes seven through to eleven though. Walking onto the seventh tee gave me a similar thrill as stepping onto the third tee at Dornoch or the ninth at Cruden Bay and whilst Troon may rank third in this trio the view, which primarily takes in the hole itself, the famed Postage Stamp and a vista out to sea is spectacular.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
The postage stamp is a very noteworthy hole on a course that lacks many standout holes. I know I am in a minority in not loving Royal Troon but I found a bunch of the holes to be rather straightforward and uninteresting. The former editor of Golf Magazine, George Peper's description is more eloquent and concise than mine but in the same vein: "Six dull holes - six interesting holes - six dull holes." Relative to other courses that host the Open Championship or others in England I find Troon to be overrated.
John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs
The par thee 5th is very close to the shoreline so any lofted tee shot is likely to be wind affected. The 6th is the longest par five on any of the Open Championship courses. Three bunkers are in place for the drive. The green is in a lovely setting with dunes on both sides and out of bounds at the back.
The next six holes are probably in the most interesting terrain with dunes more prevalent. The elevated 7th tee provides a wonderful outlook over this hole which bends to the right around the ‘Postage Stamp’ 8th.
From the 13th, all holes run in a northerly direction back to the clubhouse. After two par fours and a medium length par three, the 15th is the start of four very tough finishing holes. Fifteen is a par four of 481 yards with three bunkers waiting for the drive and a further three closer to the green.
The 17th is the most difficult of the short holes. At 222 yards, it can be a very long par three into the wind. The 18th is rated index 17 – presumably based on the medal tee length of 374 yards. However it is 453 yards from the championship tee which makes it a long par four.
This review is an edited extract from Another Journey through the Links, which has been reproduced with David Worley’s kind permission. The author has exclusively rated for us every Scottish course featured in his book. Another Journey through the Links is available for Australian buyers via www.golfbooks.com.au and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.