One of the luxuries of being a golf course architect is that there are no precise design rules to follow.

Great Holes – The 8th, Royal Troon

There are some, however, who feel that a ’proper’ course has to be a par 72 with four par- 3s and four par-5s, two loops of nine and every bunker and the bottom of every flag visible.


Go to Florida and almost every resort course follows this formula and, after a few days, it is hard to remember one course from another.

Thank goodness then for the Old Course…

It is golf course architecture’s unwritten constitution that almost anything is allowable if there is good reason.

Great courses must mentally challenge, frustrate and infuriate, but most of all, for us amateurs, they need to be fun.

The 12th is all of those things.

It may not appeal to those trying to make a living from playing golf, but it is a hole that is rich in strategic options – a hole that completely changes character in different wind directions and with different pin positions, something which applies to every hole here.

The test
Its six bunkers are superbly placed to create this strategic richness.


Clumps of gorse left and right sit ready to gobble up shots deliberately played away from the bunker hotspots.

The strategy
At only 348 yards, it is in range for tour players – the big question is how aggressive to be, with patience often the key.

That encapsulates why the Old Course continues to define strategic architecture.

Mackenzie & Ebert are advisors
to six of the 10 Open venues,
including Turnberry and Portrush.
More info:

Have you played the 12th at the Old Course? Or think you could you take on this hole? Tell us how you got on in the comment section below.