The 145th Open Championship gets underway next week at the Royal Troon Golf Club. The Old Course at Troon will hold the championship for the 9th time and is one of nine courses in the Open Championship rotation.
Here are some quick facts on Royal Troon.
1. Link to the Augusta National
Alister MacKenzie, the famous British golf course architect who co-designed Augusta with Bobby Jones, laid out the 18 holes at Troon’s Portland Course in 1923.
2. Oldest Golf Clubs in History
The Adam Woods Clubs, considered to be the oldest clubs in history, were found in 1898, walled up in the Maister House along with a newspaper from 1741, so they are thought to date back to around the late 1600s to the early 1700s – the Stuart Kings period. The clubs (not a full set) consist of three Play clubs, three Long Spoons, a Light Iron and a Heavy Iron. They would eventually end up as the property of Adam Wood, a Troon founding member, and club captain. In 1915, Wood gifted the set to his beloved Troon Golf Club. Today the clubs can be found at the newly constructed British Golf Museum at St. Andrews. The replicas are on display in the Troon clubhouse.
3. The Postage Stamp
One of the most iconic Par-3’s in the world is Troon’s 8th hole, also known as the “Postage Stamp.” The hole measures just 123 yards, and is the shortest Par-3 in the Open Championship rotation. The green is a minuscule 420 square feet – about the size of a two-car garage. The nickname was coined by Golf Illustrated’s Willie Park, who wrote that the green had been “skimmed down to the size of a Postage Stamp.”
4. The Coffin Bunker
It’s not just the green at the 8th that’s intimidating. One of the five bunkers surrounding the green is called “The Coffin Bunker.” Situated to left of the green, the bunker slopes severely down, is extremely narrow and shaped like a coffin. Expect a few golf balls to end up there.
5. Tale of Two Nines
Just like the Old Course at St. Andrews, Troon is a classic Out-and-Back Links style course. The 9th hole doesn’t come back to the clubhouse but in fact extends further out. The front nine is shorter, quite flat and plays mostly downwind. The back nine is much longer, with some interesting terrain and plays into a stiff sea breeze. Jim Furyk put it this way, “It’s like two golf courses. It’s blowing out on the front and everything plays real short. Then you turn around and come into a left-to-right wind and you spend the back nine trying to kill it and keep it left.”
6. Her Royal Golfness
There are 37 golf clubs in the British Isles which have “Royal” as a prefix to their name. Troon remains the last member to join this elite group of golf clubs, having been honored in its centenary year in 1978. Troon remains the only golf course to be given this honor by Queen Elizabeth II during her 64 year reign.
7. Royal Americans
There have been only eight Opens conducted at Royal Troon, and the last six champions have all been Americans – Arnold Palmer (’62), Tom Weiskopf (’73), Tom Watson (’82), Mark Calcavecchia (’89), Justin Leonard (’97) and Todd Hamilton (’04). South Africa’s Bobby Locke lifted the Claret Jug in 1950, and is the last non-American to win The Open at Troon. The last (first, and only) Englishman to win was Arthur Havers in 1923 who pocketed $75.
8. Ladies Tees Added
When the R&A removed Muirfield from the Open Championship rotation, Royal Troon was the only remaining Golf Club which had a male-only policy. On July 1st of this year, about 360 of the club’s 861 members were present to vote and agreed to admit female members. The exact count is unknown because they do a show of hands, but apparently the result was “overwhelming.”