Royal Troon – A Serious Test Of Links Golf

Jeremy Ellwood visited Royal Troon in June courtesy of Mercedes-Benz on their Patron's Day to check out the Royal Troon Open Championship test come July

Taking on the Postage Stamp on the Mercedes-Benz Patron's Day at Royal Troon

Jeremy Ellwood visited Royal Troon in June courtesy of Mercedes-Benz on their Patron's Day to check out the Royal Troon Open Championship test come July

Royal Troon – a serious test of links golf

On a beautiful June day I paid my first visit to Royal Troon since Todd Hamilton held the Claret Jug aloft in his all-beige ensemble back in 2004.

I was there courtesy of Mercedes-Benz - Official Patron of The Open Championship - to play the course and spend some time with 80-year-old, three-time Open champion, Gary Player, asking him about his Open memories and watching him keep the Mercedes-Benz guests royally entertained during an excellent clinic on the range.

Putting on 14 under the watchful eye of Gary Player

Putting on 14 under the watchful eye of Gary Player

 

But what of the links itself? I have to confess that I had found Troon just a little underwhelming on my previous couple of visits compared to other Open Championship venues, but was mightily impressed on my return.

The links is far better and more varied than I'd remembered and was in excellent condition, as you might hope with golf's biggest championship just a few weeks away. The changes implemented by Martin Ebert had enhanced the course's visuals and challenge in a number of places, among them the 9th, 10th and 15th holes, the last of that trio now playing on a different line from the tee - the line that the hole took for Troon's first Open back in 1923, as vice-captain Alasdair Cameron had told me just a couple of weeks earlier as he chatted to me about the final run-up to the big event.

The Postage Stamp 8th will, as ever, have a role to play. Yes, it's only 123 yards, but if the breeze is up it can quickly become the world's hardest 123 yards should you miss the green. Last time in 2004, Ernie made an ace here, while Tiger took 6 in the final round.

Chipping on the tight links turf back in June, which may be even tighter in July

Chipping on the tight links turf back in June, which may be even tighter in July

The 11th is a real brute where players will be hitting into the unknown over a sea of gorse on a long par 4 flanked by more thick gorse on the left and the railway on the right. The 17th is then a tough long par 3 to a raised green that will become ever more difficult to find as the pressure mounts in any sort of wind.

The key to the Royal Troon Open Championship test is to make a hatful of birdies heading out over the first seven holes, for once you hitting the Postage Stamp, there's a little loop around the turn before you're likely to then find yourself hanging on for dear life over the majority of a testing back nine that plays straight into the prevailing wind!

Jeremy Ellwood
Jeremy Ellwood

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf


Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response