Troon was founded in 1878 as a five-hole golf course following a meeting in the local pub by a group of golf enthusiasts. It was George Strath, Troon’s pro, who was largely responsible for the original course design. Willie Fernie and James Braid later modified and extended the layout. In 1923, Royal Troon Golf Club hosted its first Open and finally moved out of the shadow of its famous neighbour, Prestwick.
In 1978, Troon’s centenary year, royal patronage was bestowed. Royal Troon Golf Club remains the first (and last) club in Great Britain to have been granted Royal status under the long reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
Royal Troon is a traditional out and back links course. The opening few holes are relatively gentle, with a series of short par fours running along the Firth of Clyde.
It’s from these early holes that you get the chance to soak up the views. On a clear day, you can see the distant Ailsa Craig in the south, and to the west, the majestic mountains on the Isle of Arran.
The course measures 7,208 yards from the championship tips but line is more important than distance from the tee. Bunkers are everywhere, the majority of which are not visible from the tees. There’s plenty of deep rough and a smattering of gorse and broom to punish the wayward shot. Make your score on the outward nine holes; the inward holes are severe, often playing into the prevailing north-westerly wind. The stretch of holes from the 7th to the 13th provides an interesting and varied challenge. The 6th is the longest par five in Open Championship golf and the 8th the “Postage Stamp” is the shortest par three on the Open circuit (123 yards).
The 11th is a brutal 490-yard par four for the pros and was rated the most difficult hole of the 1997 Open Championship out-of- bounds and the railway line runs along the right-hand side. In 2004, the Open Championship returned to Royal Troon for the eighth time. It was an exciting tournament. Ernie Els had a ten-foot putt for the Claret Jug on the 72nd hole but missed and then lost to Todd Hamilton in a play-off.