Royal Troon is situated on the west coast of Scotland and is set to host the 145th Open Championship. This will be the ninth Open that has been held at Royal Troon Golf Club and this course is a world renowned favorite among golfers. So what’s it like to have this famous course on your doorstep and watch it be taken over by the golfing world as it gets ready to host the Open? With just weeks to go until the first competitor tees it up, it’s an experience I am lucky enough to be very familiar with.
Royal Troon is where I fell in love with golf. At the 2004 Open Championship I was drawn by the buzz it brought to my little hometown and have been addicted to the sport ever since. I was a member at The Ladies Golf Club of Troon for a number of years up until I turned professional in 2013. To me, Royal Troon will always be my home course and I am one of the most excited people about The Open Championship’s return.
Like everyone else I want Troon to really show its teeth and give the professionals a challenge. If it comes to Open week and there’s not a breath of wind, with blistering sunshine I will be disheartened. Of course that weather is great for the walking spectators but I am sure everybody else who has played Troon will agree, those perfect weather conditions are an absolute rarity.
When at Troon, I usually play off the yellow tees at 6,170 yards which seems like a pitch and putt compared to the Championship distance of 7,190 but for me it’s just enough of a challenge that I can scrape some birdies on this hard links course. With Troon running along the coastline of the Firth of Clyde it has its fair share of bad weather. I have witnessed all seasons in one round and regularly leave the course feeling battered and bruised by the fierce sea breeze. The wind is one of the many factors which make Troon tough, with its prevailing wind in a north-westerly direction in particular makes the back nine extremely difficult.
Most people describe Troon as a course of two halves but I break the course into 3 six hole segments. The first six are my scoring holes where I can be aggressive chasing birdies especially on the two par 5 holes 4th and 6th. The final six are challenging, however they hold a couple last minute birdie chances to help the score on the way in. The middle six-hole section, I consider the most thrilling but the most difficult group of holes you can play on an Open Championship golf course. If I can get through the 7th to the 12th in level par or better, I take a deep breath and try hard to hide my excitement. Those middle 6 holes include the famous “Postage Stamp” 8th and the hardest hole on the course, 12th “Railway Hole”.
The Postage Stamp is my favourite golf hole in the world. With its raised tee being battered by the wind I have hit everything from a flick wedge to a 5 wood into this treacherous par 3. Its size is very deceiving at 123 yards from the back tee. I have seen a few triple bogeys at this hole and made one myself but luckily pars and birdies outweigh my woes.
Standing on the 12th tee at Troon is not for the light hearted. You have to hit your blind tee shot with confidence and then say a short prayer that it’s not in a gorse bush or out of bounds on the railway at the right, hence the name “Railway Hole”. Arnold Palmer described it as “the most dangerous hole I have ever seen” and he wasn’t lying. With the wind coming off the left pushing your ball in the direction of the railway you have to aim up the left side towards the gorse bushes and hope the wind will do its job. Once you get down to your tee shot on the “middle” of the fairway you realize your “tee fear” was a little over exaggerated but you should be thankful for finding the short stuff.
Watching the top players in the world make a triple on a hole we struggled with last week in the medal, suddenly knocks them off the pedestal we put them on and brings them to our level. Fans start making the statement ‘I can do that’ and for a brief second we feel on par with the pros, but only very briefly. I am not wishing bad luck on any of the players at this year’s Open Championship at Royal Troon but I am positive you will see a high number or two.
By Rachael McQueen, Community Engagement Executive at Shot Scope