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½ mile S of Troon
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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.
The 11th is a brutal 490-yard par four for the pros and was rated the most difficult hole of the 1997 Open Championship – out-of-bounds and the railway line runs along the right hand side.
Mackenzie & Ebert made minor adjustments to every hole for The 145th Open in 2016, along with more major changes to the 9th, 10th and 15th holes. A backdrop of trees behind the 9th green was replaced with dunes, the former bunker in the carry of the 10th was restored, and both tees and early portion of the 15th fairway were moved to the left of the 14th hole, reinstating the old line of the hole.
The Open Championship returns to Royal Troon in 2023, 100 years since Arthur Havers lifted the Claret Jug at Troon for the first time.
I rocked up here on a late windy & wet Thursday afternoon and settled in my camper van for the over night stay ready to play the course on the Friday. I knew the forecast was 'wet' but to be fair, the chance to play such an iconic and historic golf club, the pending storm didnt phase me at all. Stephan A, the manager is a real gem of a man and there was not one thing that he didnt address for me when speaking with him. My tee time was early afternoon, yet whilst having breakfast and speaking with him he informed me that many members and bookings had been cancelled and would i like to go out earlier. I took him up on this offer and managed to get out when there was a lull in the rain....
Im stood on the 1st tee and the sea to my right appeared to quieten, the rain softened and there was a real nice quiet sense of calm as im stood there, now im not sure if its my being in tune with the historic energy of the place or my sentiment for the beauty and natural elements but it gave me a real sense of peace as i catapulted my Pro V1 280 yards down the fairway, landing left of the right hand bunker. I played off the back tee's as i wanted to get a real sense of what Rory an DJ get when they play here in comps.
Even with the rain and wind the course was playing lovely, greens were relatively fast, a little surface water here an there but on the whole, the course was a real joy to play.
The rough was brutal to get out of if you managed to find your ball, the bunkers were a challenge also given the amount of water they had absorbed so it was a challeneg getting out of em when i found myself in em.. Luckily that only happened 4/5 times throughout the round.
Coming up the 18th there were members in the club house and like all good golfers, we love an audience, so my 2nd shot in to within 30 yards of the green was a real joy as it was the 4/5 members stood in the window watching that settled my head and calmed my chip, 2 putt and a walk off with a 5 and a round of 86 to me i was not gonna moan at. Yes i could done better had i focused more, but to be fair, the joy of playing the course, by myself, with no rush and savouring the beauty and history of it, an 86 will stay with me until i play it again in the summer next year.....
Royal Troon is certainly hard enough to host Opens. As a visitor though, it lacks some X-factor, special aura and diversity so I think deserves its place outside the highest tier of GB&I golf.
The holes nearer the clubhouse although very good, lack a little character and aren’t so memorable. As mentioned below, the hillier holes between 7 and 11 are the most enjoyable. The Postage Stamp plays off the highest dune, into the wind and on to the second highest dune. The early and late holes reminded me Princes’ Shores, only with more bunkers. That’s fine, but as an isolated green fee Troon’s could be the worst value on the current Open rota.
There’s obviously a lot of history here and you can’t beat walking up the 18th of a major venue. So book Troon if you are into that (I am) but I don’t think it’s the main highlight of many Scotland trips. If I could I’d give it 4.75.
Had an absolutely fantastic day out at Royal Troon playing the Portland in the morning followed by the Old Course in the afternoon. We were very impressed, perhaps unexpectedly, by the Portland, but the Old Course was a big step up in every aspect. There are so many areas you could speak about, but I think the bunkering is perhaps the best I have competed against .... and lost. The bunker placement is incredibly clever leaving you pondering and swithering over club selection on just about every hole.
A fantastic day out, an incredible golf course and, in my humble opinion, preferable to the slightly more famous course along the road. The Old Course at Royal Troon is the perfect reminder of how golf should be played, with strategy and thought.
Royal Troon Old is a championship course. It has the flexibility to stretch out and challenge the very best golfer. The conditions are excellent. The green complexes demand precision. The club is very welcoming. I enjoyed playing here but predominantly the holes just blended together as one challenging one followed by another. I walked away from my first round here with three thoughts. 1] Yippee I parred the postage stamp 2] That Scottish Egg was really delicious and 3] This was quite enjoyable but I doubt I'll come back. I would love to play the day where you play from The Old to Prestwick Clubhouse and then return, That would be a very special day.
I found Troon to be a funny course. I’d heard so many mixed things about it my expectations were quite low heading into it. I was pleasantly surprised by how good I thought it was and how much I enjoyed it.
Yeah the first few holes are a bit bland but they do a good job of easing you into the round. From about the 6th onwards though the course really picks. The postage stamp is great and has to be seen to be truly appreciated. 11 is a hell of a hole as well which I somehow managed to make a birdie 4 on!
For me Troon is probably my least favourite of the Scottish open courses, but that’s not to say it’s a bad course, just the other courses are that good. I’d also say that Troon is potentially a little bit underrated in the rankings here. I would certainly have it ahead of castle Stuart at least.
In general though I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to go back
Over the years I've been to Opens I 've covered and played the course a few times. In my mind, Royal Troon reminds me of the fanfare Baltusrol has long received in American golf circles. In sum -- both clubs are well connected to the respective golf associations. And, both clubs have layouts architecturally vapid for far too much of the golf experience. Thankfully, Baltusrol has hired Gil Hanse to change the storyline and what happens given his involvement will be most interesting to see.
Sad to say, but utterly true, far too many people weigh the hosting of major championships held at a given facility as being on par with the actual architecture. The reality is one has little to do with the other.
The other element often downplayed is how consistent is the overall architecture? For example, does a facility base its reputation on simply having a few holes of note and the rest simply at a pedestrian level. A classic example is Pebble Beach -- the oceanside holes are spectacular but the inland holes a good bit less so although a few have been recently upgraded. Some opine that if the select great holes are good enough then the rest need not matter.
Troon has an opening series of holes that diplomatically speaking can be reduced to one painful word -- dull. The essence of the course comes with the middle stretch of holes. And, no doubt, the iconic par-3 8th merits all the attention it rightly deserves. I would dare say when one highlights the global best super short par-3 holes --the Postage Stamp delivers the mail spectacularly and without peer.
But the opening stretch reminds me of the famed Elvis Presley song -- "return to sender" -- because there is nothing present that stirs the soul -- or frankly causes much of a pulse. Following a continuous straight line of holes does get painfully repetitive and the architectural inclusions, shall I call them that, are just inducements to take a snooze.
One has to wait till reaching the par-4 7th for the thrill ride to actually commence. Much has been written on the middle stretch of holes and they collectively merit the attention. The all-world 11th is an absolute terror and one that not only can pick one's pocket but will confiscate your trousers as well. When people talk about pressure packed tee shots you'll get quite a few mention the likes of The Road Hole or the 18th at Carnoustie. In my mind, the 11th at Troon is certainly a prime candidate for inclusion.
The ending is demanding but frankly the reputation is bolstered by the headwind generally encountered. When the overall assessment of a course rests squarely on whether Mother Nature adversely impacts matters I believe the final standing needs to be adjusted accordingly.
Let me summarize -- if I had ten rounds to play between Troon and its next door neighbor Prestwick -- I'd play the former at most three times -- the rest on that gem that first hosted The Open.
M. James Ward
Just down the road from Prestwick GC on the Ayreshire coast you will find Royal Troon, one of the ten great links that currently form the Open Rota. That is to say, these courses host The Open Championship on rotation from year to year. Royal Troon is a wonderful championship course, and any serious golfer will rejoice at the challenge of testing themselves against this great links.
Having recently returned from playing our Open Rota tournament- where we play our own tournament over all of the Open Rota courses- I must say that as a test of golf Royal Troon does not suffer by comparison with it's esteemed brethren.
The site is blessed with a sandy terrain right on the beach, but the dunes are largely low lying, and when the wind whips off the ocean, there is nowhere to hide. On these days, the camera may well stay in the bag, as Royal Troon has little of the visual appeal that say Turnberry down the road can exude. It can be positively bleak by comparison...
Yet if it is real golf you came to play Royal Troon will not disappoint.
The opening holes, right behind the coastal foredune, with ocean on the right, are tremendous, strategic championship golf holes.
This is a really great stretch of championship links golf holes. Then the course turns inland, and for the first time we encounter a pocket of towering dunes with a gorgeous valley which forms the basis of the 7th fairway. This part of the course is very attractive. I loved the 7th hole!
And then we come to the incomparable par 3 "postage stamp", one of the most famous holes in golf. It is only a short hole, but fraught with danger. Hit the green or pay the penalty!!
Unfortunately the par 4 ninth hole takes us out of this little oasis at Troon, as the course now moves into a section of the course away from the dunes and the sea, and into a number holes that are framed by trees and shrubs, and where the railway line makes it's presence felt.
There are some good holes here where you need to drive the ball straight to stay in play, testing holes, without ever being particularly memorable. And then Troon plays its final card- the long haul home, generally into the wind, and boy it can wreck a score! All are good strong golf holes, and a great test of golf.
So there you have it. Royal Troon is not pretty, but it's pretty bloody good.
I just want to go back and play it again!
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
On a sunny and calm morning in early September 2018 I rolled up to Troon with a booking to play the Portland Course (highly understated in its own right - MacKenzie reworked) and ended up being asked to join in with a group on the Old Course. I made the most of it. It turned out to be one of the best days of golf I've ever had.
The 1st tee, right in the corner of the property by the beach, is definitely one of the more iconic opening tee shots on the Open rota, perhaps surpassed only by St Andrews. 1st to 5th are pleasant holes without significant undulation and not too difficult if you can avoid the bunkers. The beach and O.B. to the right are not really a factor except if you are wild on the 1st tee. Then after the long par three 5th, with its nasty bunkering, the majestic par five 6th leads you into a slightly grander dunescape, providing for a quaintly enclosed green and building you up for the stretch that is about to come.
I can't quite recall, but I don't think the 2016 Open coverage made enough of a big deal about the 7th, 9th and 10th holes, such was the emphasis on the Postage Stamp and the murderous 11th. The 7th tee provides the first enthralling vista of the course; it's all before you from the elevated tee, including the 8th green very much in your eyeline, in fact it is almost directly in line with the 7th green in the distance. A fabulous par four, it plays as a dogleg right down into a valley with the fairway bunkers as targets, from where a short iron approach is played back up to the green at the top of the slope and tucked naturally between dunes and with an intriguing open back edge (on to the 10th fairway) through the green.
So up the steps off the 7th green you go - to the famous Postage Stamp. It is most definitely not over-hyped in any way. The walk up the steps to reveal the view from the tee is an inexperience in itself alone. Best par three in the world? It is rightly spoken of up there with Augusta 12, Pebble Beach 7 and Cypress Point 16. What I had not realised previously is that you walk almost right next to the green as you play the 7th, so you have an early gauge of what is in store, not unlike the 16th / 17th situation at Sawgrass, but it still doesn't prepare you for the view from the 8th tee, a view that extends to the Ayrshire coast beyond. The hole is not that short really. I measured it 137 to the back of the green into a one club wind with the pin the middle by the deadly coffin bunker, so I played a sneaky 135-yard knock-down 8 iron (to six feet thank you). So much for the dink with a wedge.
If you're not still mentally on the previous hole, you should realise that the 9th is quite a classy hole itself. It's a dogleg right par four played through an undulating fairway towards what seems the quietest little dune sheltered corner on the Ayrshire coastline, until the planes taking off from Prestwick Airport roar just above your head. One thing you don't see on Open TV coverage is the walk between the 9th green and 10th tee. Probably the longest walk between holes on the course and through a secluded pathway out of reach of spectators and cameras. A couple of holiday site caravans overlook the walkway and you could imagine Palmer, Watson, Weiskopf, Calcavecchia, Leonard, Hamilton and Stenson all having brief moments of reflection that may have relaxed their minds en route to clinching their respective claret jugs.
10 is another undulating par four played down into a valley, with the 7th green and 8th tee to the left side, and up to a perched green. At one point as you walk along the fairway the 7th and 8th greens are visible to the left almost in line with one another - it must be quite a setting during Open time.
Then to the brutal 11th. Officially the hardest hole on the Open rota. The white and yellow tees are elevated away from the railway line and the view from there is worth seeing as it shows the hole nicely, but plays a very different tee shot. The O.B. wall runs down the right side of the entire hole, with the train tracks just the other side of it, and to the left there is the worst jungle on the course, all in all leaving no room for error. I hit a solid straight drive, but then got greedy with my second, blazing a 3-wood on to the 11.40 southbound to Ayr. The 11th green and 12th area is guarded by some trees, the last bit of shelter you will find before the 19th hole. 12 goes back southerly, a tough slight dogleg right par four, then the homeward stretch begins with the difficult 13th, as all of a sudden you feel very exposed to the elements.
I will always love 14 because of my 5-wood and 30 foot putt birdie. Wonderful long par three! Number 15 also caught the attention. A charming fairway mound just before the green that you can use to your advantage, especially if the pin is at the front. It was on this green that Stenson held that monster putt to finally put some distance between himself and Mickelson in their famous 2016 duel. The 16th is a flatish long par five with a cross fairway burn to negotiate and here the setting gradually becomes more urban to the right side of the course as you get closer to the town and the clubhouse. The 17th is a long par three, with a friendly landing area short right of the green and a more punishing fall-off on the left, overlooked by the Marine Hotel from the right, which actually evokes a very St Andrews like kind of vibe.
Most Open rota finishing par fours seem to have certain similarities. Decent if not spectacular par fours in their own right and quite flat with numerous bunkers along the fairway and at greenside, obviously enhanced by the grandeur of the clubhouse setting on any given day and even more so by the grandstands at Open time. The 18th at Troon is no different and a mere driver and 8-iron for me on the day. Note the Stenson bunker (that he somehow did not roll into) on the right side at about 275 yards from the back tee.
I must comment on the welcome I received at Troon. It was exceptional and made the day all the more memorable.
A fantastic open course with a few differences that makes it unique. The postage stamp alone was worthy of the immense green fee and a few other holes made it a truly enjoyable experience. Add a fantastic clubhouse with an understated approach this is a great course and definitely worthy of the plaudits it gets, a must for a golfing enthusiast.
All the open courses are brilliant and I honestly think your favourite is the one you play best at or more important, .....when you get the best weather ! When you compare the best of the rest , ie Ganton ,Royal Porthcawl , Royal St Davids, Saunton Sands, Burnham and Berrow, you realise the open courses have something extra that is hard to explain but is definitely justified in making them the top of the pecking order and you must put this on your bucket list.
Visited Troon for the 1st time in April 2008 on my trip to Turnberry. I just had the opportunity to walk to the 1st tee and i must say this experience did not inspired me... at all.
11 years later, i've had the rare opportunity to play the Old Course at Royal Troon with a member of the club on a nice sunny day.
I must say i have enjoyed absolutely every moment of my day.
From the locker room to the bar and trhe proshop, all the staff have been great.
Regarding the course i believe this is one of the finest track i've ever had the chance to experience. I definitely rank it as one of my favourite course ever.