Royal Troon is set to host the 2016 Open Championship.
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By Joe Passov
Monday, July 04, 2016

On July 14, play will begin at the 145th British Open, and for the ninth time Royal Troon will be the stage. What makes this course such a special spot in the rota? Let us count the ways:

1. Royal Troon Golf Club dates to 1878, when it debuted with a five-hole golf course.

2. Royal Troon wasn’t granted “Royal” status until 1978, during the club’s centennial year. Until then, the club where Palmer won in ’62 and Weiskopf in ’73 was simply “Troon.” Some referred to it as Old Troon, both because of its age and because its Championship course is called the “Old.”

3. As with many Scottish courses, Troon is the name of the club and the town where it’s located. Situated next to the Firth of Clyde in South Ayrshire, 35 miles southwest of Glasgow, Troon sits in the center of a rich vein of historic golf, including Prestwick, three-and-a-half miles to the south, which was home to the first dozen Open Championships.

4. In 2016, Royal Troon will host its ninth Open Championship, tying it with Royal Birkdale for most Opens hosted, behind St. Andrews (29), Prestwick (24), Muirfield (16), Royal St. George’s (14), Royal Liverpool (12) and Royal Lytham St. Annes (11).

5. The past Open Champions at Royal Troon:
1923: Arthur Havers
1950: Bobby Locke
1962: Arnold Palmer
1973: Tom Weiskopf
1982: Tom Watson
1989: Mark Calcavecchia
1997: Justin Leonard
2004: Todd Hamilton
The past six Open Champions at Royal Troon have been American.

6. Royal Troon will play 7,190 yards for the 2016 Open at a par 71 on nines of 36-35. This is 15 yards longer than it played for the 2004 Open Championship.

7. The toughest hole during the 2004 Open was the par-4 11th, which played to a 4.41 stroke average. Jack Nicklaus made a quintuple-bogey 10 here in 1962, when the hole played as a par 5. Today it’s just your typical forget-about-it-when-the-wind-is-up two-shotter, with train tracks and a stone wall hard by the right side. The hole was converted to a par 4 before the 1997 Open.

8. Royal Troon’s most famous hole is the par-3 8th, called “Postage Stamp.” At 123 yards, it is the shortest hole on the Open rota and has seen its share of ecstasies and agonies. At age 71, Gene Sarazen aced the hole with a five-iron in the first round of the 1973 Open, then birdied it by holing a bunker shot the next day. Forty-five minutes before Sarazen’s ace, Scotland’s David Russell became the youngest player ever to make a hole-in-one in the Open with his seven-iron effort at the Postage Stamp. Most recently, Ernie Els scored a 1 at the Postage Stamp in 2004. The hole’s saddest victim was the German amateur Hermann Tissies, who floundered to a 15 on this hole in 1950. Rookie professional Tiger Woods took a triple-bogey 6 here in 1997’s final round.

9. Royal Troon Scorecard for the 2016 Open and how the holes played in 2004:
1 “Seal” 367 yards par 4; 4.10 (11th)     
2 “Black Rock” 390 yards par 4; 4.06 (14th)
3 ‘Gyaws” 377 yards par 4; 4.14 (10th)
4 “Dunure” 555 yards par 5; 4.75 (17th)
5 “Greenan” 209 yards par 3; 3.16 (8th)
6 “Turnberry” 601 yards par 5; 5.00 (15th)
7 “Tel-el-Kebir” 401 yards par 4; 3.97 (16th)
8 “Postage Stamp” 123 yards par 3; 3.09 (13th)
9 “The Monk” 422 yards par 4; 4.23 (5th)
10 “Sandhills” 451 yards par 4; 4.30 (3th)
11 “The Railway” 482 yards par 4; 4.41 (1st)
12 “The Fox” 430 yards par 4; 4.31 (2nd)
13 “Burmah” 473 yards par 4; 4.15 (9th)
14 “Alton” 178 yards par 3; 3.10 (12th)
15 “Crosbie” 499 yards par 4; 4.28 (4th)
16 “Well” 554 yards par 5; 4.74 (18th)
17 “Rabbit” 220 yards par 3; 3.22 (6th)
18 “Craigend” 458 yards par 4; 4.20 (7th)

10. Top 10 Finishers from 2004
1 Todd Hamilton 71-67-67-69—274 (-10)*
2 Ernie Els 69-69-68-68—274 (-10)
3 Phil Mickelson 73-66-68-68—275 (-9)
4 Lee Westwood 72-71-68-67—278 (-6)
T5 Davis Love III 72-69-71-67—279 (-5)
T5 Thomas Levet 66-70-71-72—279 (-5)
T7 Retief Goosen 69-70-68-73—280 (-4)
T7 Scott Verplank 69-70-70-71—280 (-4)
T9 Tiger Woods 70-71-68-72—281 (-3)
T9 Mike Weir 71-68-71-71—281 (-3)
*Playoff
Todd Hamilton 4-4-3-4—15 (E)
Ernie Els 4-4-4-4—16 (+1)

11. At least six architects have had a hand in Royal Troon’s design. Its earliest incarnation in 1878 was a five-hole layout (with some sources citing six holes) with Charles “Charlie” Hunter getting design credit. Hunter was then superintendent at nearby Prestwick, and had trained under Old Tom Morris. Troon’s first professional, George Strath, helped to create a 12-hole course, which became 18 holes by 1884. The 1883 Open Championship winner Willie Fernie became Troon’s professional in 1887 and under his guidance, Troon’s course evolved. Fernie, who also designed the two original courses at Turnberry, is responsible for creating the “Postage Stamp” par-3 8th (in 1909) and the Railway Hole, Number 11. Hall-of-Fame player and architect James Braid made further refinements to Troon prior to hosting its first Open in 1923. Most recently, in 2014, architect Martin Hawtree restored an Alister MacKenzie-designed feature on the 10th hole (a bunker cutting into a dune ridge), created a new dune behind the ninth hole (to block the view of an RV park) and altered the 15th by relocating and re-contouring the fairway.

12. Troon’s other regulation 18, called the Portland, is shorter and slightly further inland. It, too, was a Willie Fernie design from 1895 and was substantially redesigned by Alister MacKenzie in 1923, where it weathered fierce criticism from Gene Sarazen, who suffered through a horrible 85 during final Open qualifying and failed to make the field.

13. A classic out-and-back links, (think Old Course at St. Andrews) where the 9th hole extends furthest away from the clubhouse, Royal Troon features a front nine along the sea with nearly every hole heading in a southeasterly direction. The back nine then comes back to the northwest, with every hole except the 12th playing in that direction. Typically the road home is played into stiff sea breezes, making the incoming nine one of the hardest in championship golf. As Gary Player once put it, the last nine holes at Troon are “the most difficult in the world when the wind is blowing.”   

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