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What others say

Royal Troon Golf Club

The motto engraved on the crest of the Royal Troon Golf Club isTam Arte Quam Marte -"As much by skill as by strength." Believe it. At 6,641 yards off the medal tees you will not overpower this golf course. This is one tough Scottish links layout which demands the usual accuracy off the tee, plus the deft short game that all great links courses demand. But in addition you will need lots of patience and a heavy dose of good course management. Throw in a modicum of luck and you'll have a great day.

Royal Troon #8
Royal Troon #8--"The Postage Stamp"--taken from the tee.

Royal Troon Golf Club is a classic "out-and-back" Scottish links layout.

Much like St. Andrews Old Course, the front nine are pretty much all one way out from the clubhouse with the sea a constant companion at your right for the first six holes (slicer's beware--no, no, forget I said that.). The front nine is where to make your score because the prevailing winds will be at your back. Coming home, eight holes will play directly into the prevailing wind--and that wind can be a two to three club wind which will not only knock your ball back, it will exaggerate any slice or hook you may hit

The course starts out gently enough with a 357 yard par 4. Just keep the ball in the fairway for a good chance at birdie or par. Take advantage of this gift, you won't get many more. There are two fairway bunkers on the left and, of course, the sea to your right. But as with virtually all the holes on this golf course, if you keep your ball in the fairway--even if you're not long--you greatly increase your chances for a good round because the rough is so punishing. If you stray far from the fairway you are looking at an automatic bogey. A judicious use of your 3 wood or hybrid on certain holes is recommended. Better to be short in the fairway than trying to hit out of gorse. As I said, good course management is critical.

Royal Troon #8, the legendary "Postage Stamp " hole

Everyone mentions the 8th hole, a short 126 yard par 3. With a stroke index of 18 it's supposed to be the easiest hole on the golf course. Don't believe it. Sure, it's only a wedge but it's called "Postage Stamp" for a reason. Did you ever see a large postage stamp? Exactly. It's tiny. Not only is it tiny, it is surrounded by 5 intimidating bunkers. Wait, it gets worse. One of the bunkers is called "The Coffin Bunker"--and the edges are severely sloped so that anything that doesn't hold the green leaves a delicate chip with a pretty good chance of ending up in bogey or worse. Tiger Woods took a 6 here in his first British Open Championship and it's the only hole Greg Norman bogeyed when he set the course record with a sizzling 64. In fact, he birdied the first 6 holes, parred # 7 and then bogeyed the "easy" Postage Stamp. I can't understand why this hole get's such little stroke index respect but then par 3s are seldom rated highly, no matter how difficult they are. (There's an interesting story told about #8 when, in the 1973 Open Championship Gene Sarazan played the hole 2 times in a total of 3 shots and never used his putter. The first day he had a hole-in-one. The second day his tee shot went into one of the bunkers and he holed it out with a sand wedge.) By the way, this hole is the shortest hole in all the Open Championship courses.

Royal Troon 18th green with clubhouse Royal Troon is laces with gorse. Admire but don't touch!!!
Clubhouse and 18th green Royal Troon is rich with gorse. Avoid it!

Holes number 6 and 11 are also worth mentioning. Tam arte quam marte aptly apply to them both because both need strength and skill--with emphasis on the skill. Number 6 is 544 off the medal tees with strategically placed bunkers on both sides of the fairway. (The Championship tee measures 601 yards to the back of the tee box, making it the longest hole of any British Open Championship course) The tee shot must be acccurate and long to put yourself in a position to get there in two. I'm not a long enough hitter to ever get to any par 5 in two but, with the wind behind you--as it will be on most days--a long hitter can make it. Most players will be laying up but, again there are two bunkers and curves and undulations to contend with. It's quite a hole.

Royal Troon #8 "coffin bunker" Royal Troon gorse, nasty stuff
Coffin Bunker on #8. (Do I really need to describe the risks for a bunker named "Coffin"?) #8 also has dangerous gorse. Again, beware!

Eleven is the number one rated hole. It's 421 yards from the medal tees. There's only one bunker and that's near the green. However, gorse and broom line the narrow fairway and bumps and hills and valleys populate it. It's the kind of hole you can get a decent drive on only to find you're facing a downhill and/or sidehill lie for your second shot to a inverted saucer green. Oh, and don't forget the wind. It will probably be blowing in your face. It's a par 4, but 5 is not a bad score here.

Royal Troon Golf Club certainly has the credentials of a great golf course. If you watched the Open Championship when Tom Watson almost won it you got an idea of what a magnificent golf course this is. Of course watching on TV doesn't give you the full impact of the heavy gorse and broom rough. Nor will you feel the fierce wind or try to read the undulating greens. And you won't get to experience the punishing bunkers or navigate a treacherous fairway. You'll have to play it yourself to do that.

This is some special golf course.

The Golf Nook Scotland rating -- BIRDIE

There is another golf course on the leeward side of the championship course, called the Portland Course. It's shorter than its big brother and shares some of the topography. There are five par 3s and four par 5s. All the par 5s are on the back nine. I have not played this course, so I don't know much about it but it does look to be quite a bit easier. But then again, what wouldn't be?

For What to Do All Day, please see the Ayrshire page.