“Tam Arte Quam Marte” – “As much by skills as by strength”
Royal Troon is a true championship course and it has been the venue for The Open on 8 occasions: 1923 (Arthur Havers), 1950 (Bobby Locke), 1962 (Arnold Palmer), 1973 (Tom Weiskopf), 1982 (Tom Watson), 1989 (Mark Calcavecchia), 1997 (Justin Leonard) and 2004 (Todd Hamilton).
It’s a very demanding course and it will test your game to the extreme with narrow fairways, deep rough, well placed bunkers and challenging greens.
It’s essential to be very straight and put the ball in position for the next shot. Players should make their scores on the outward nine, as the prevailing north-westerly wind will make the back nine extremely difficult.
Luckily for us, it was just a light breeze that didn’t challenge us too much. We had enough challenge by the course in itself – a tough and enjoyable challenge.
My good Swedish friends Anna & Niklas Åberg joined me at Royal Troon. We all are very competitive and showed that spirit all the way to the 18th hole – competitive, but with a friendly enjoyable tone. We had a match play going on and it all went down to the final hole. Niklas had the lead after the front nine after solid good golf, followed by Anna and Jan at third place. Anna and Jan had a strong back nine and it was a very close game. Anna had the strongest nerves and turned around a second place to a tie for the first with Jan by making a par on the 18th. A very enjoyable round of golf and the Royal club sandwich tasted very good in the clubhouse.
My personal score ended up in 41 on the front nine and 41 on the back nine for a total of 82 (gross) shots. I can’t say that the score reflect the game, I did not play well and the putting was not good at all.
Royal Troon is a very challenging course with a variation of the holes that I like. I’ve played it in strong wind before and it was brutal with it’s narrow fairways and high thick rough. It’s though enjoyable even when it’s brutal.
To me the finest stretch of holes are the one at the mid point – 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th:
Hole 7 – 381 yards par 4
Off the tee, be aware of the four fairway bunkers (two on each side) that are about 210 to 250 yards out – be straight. The approach shot will be into a long thin green that’s protected by three bunkers. Make sure you have the yardage right. My tee shot almost ended up in the gorse to the left of the fairway bunkers. Good recovery shoot, short pitch and a two put for a bogey 5. Lucky to get away with a bogey.
Hole 8 – 123 yards par 3 – The Postage Stamp
The shortest hole in Open Championship - a classic hole. From an elevated tee you need to find the very small elevated green – the stamp. You have trouble all around, so anywhere on green is good. On a windy day, it’s a challenge of magnitude to put your ball on green. A solid 9 iron in the light breeze to about two feet from the hole. Loose bad put for a birdie 2! I’m a very happy man!
Hole 9 – 387 yards par 4
A slight dogleg right hole with and undulating fairway with a blind approach shot to an elevated green. Try to put your drive to the left of the fairway for the best angle to the green. It’s a challenge to stick you blind second shot on the elevated green. Also be aware of the gorse to the right of the green. Good drive off tee in perfect position, short of green on my second, bad pitch and a two put for a bogey. Should have done better!
Hole 10 – 385 yards par 4
Put your tee shot as close (258 yards out) to the mound as you can. You’ll have a short second shot to an elevated green. Favor the left side of the green to avoid the deep hollow on the right. Good fairway wood off tee to a perfect position, messed up the second shot to much to the left, trick little pitch on green from deep rough and a two put for a bogey 5.
In all a true Championship course that needs to be played. Yes, the combination of a strong wind, narrow fairways and deep thick rough is brutal, but it’s enjoyable in a strange way. This is a course that must be played if you like a real challenge.
Royal Troon Golf Club - Old course