Played by NCG: Royal Troon Golf Club
Reason for a Royal Troon Golf Club review
I was invited to the Mercedes-Benz Patrons’ Day, which was attended by Gary Player. Mercedes-Benz is an official Patron of the Open Championship.
Where is it?
Royal Troon is on the west coast of Scotland, some eight miles north of Ayr and three miles away from Glasgow Prestwick Airport. You can get a train, direct from Glasgow Central to Troon, which takes about 40 minutes.
What to expect
Royal Troon is a classic links test. While the 1st won’t cause too many headaches if you find the fairway, as you get around the prevailing wind can make the course exceptionally difficult. You have to build a score early, because once you arrive at the 11th hole – The Railway – things escalate very quickly.
If the ground is firm, which it was when I played, take into account that you’ll get a lot of extra run. I’m not a long hitter by any stretch of the imagination but I had only 67 yards after my drive on the 381-yard par 4 7th.
On the 6th, I hit a hybrid approach into the par 5 281 yards. You can feel like Superman if conditions are in your favour.
The back 9 is hugely rewarding to play and the closing hole should prove a fitting coronation for this year’s champion golfer.
My best bit
I parred the first, which was a fantastic feeling and, with Player watching, hit an arrow of a hybrid to about 10 feet on the short 14th hole.
I managed 35 points which, off a handicap of 12, I was absolutely delighted with. I finished the back 9, considered to be one of the harder tests in Open golf, in 20 points.
But all the good shots that I hit paled into insignificance to when I walked down the 18th fairway flanked on either side by the Open grandstands.
Having grown up watching our brilliant Major, it was a real treat to get a tiny glimpse of what Rory and co experience at the climax of the tournament.
Watch out for
The Postage Stamp. At only a shade over 123-yards, the 8th hole at Royal Troon looks like a hole you should par all day long and, if you do manage to hit the tiny green, a 3 is pretty much a certainty.
But if you do what I did, and thin a pitching wedge off the back of the putting surface, you are in big trouble.
The five bunkers that surround the putting surface are enough of an obstacle but the rough is thick, tangles the club and is almost impossible to escape from. After a couple of hacks, I was forced to pick up.
When I go back
If I’m ever fortunate enough to return, I’ll take more notice of the stunning views.
The golf course is sensational but the sight of the Ayrshire coast on a sunny day can take the breath away.