La Cala Golf Resort, Costa del Sol
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La Cala Golf Resort, Costa del Sol
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Royal Troon is the home of the 145th playing of The Open Championship. The classic links course is situated on the Ayrshire coast and is one of the finest seaside golf courses in the world. Today at All Square we will take you round the course and give you an idea of what it will take to lift the Claret Jug on Sunday afternoon. The club motto at Royal Troon is “Tam Arte Quam Marte” – “As much by skill as by strength” and this gives you some idea of the challenge facing the world’s best golfers.
The Open was last held at Troon in 2004 and Todd Hamilton who took the most-coveted title of Champion Golfer of the Year around the 7190-yard par 71. Royal Troon has been a part of the Open Rota since 1923 and is very close geographically to Prestwick which is where it all began.
Most importantly we have to mention conditions. Easily the most important factor when you’re out competing on links land is weather. If you get the luck of the draw and the best conditions then you’ve got the golfing gods on your side. If the wind gets up then you need to brace yourself for a lot of long testing par putts.
Hole No.1- Seal- 367 yards- Par 4
The opening hole is a straightforward affair, well as straightforward as an opening hole at The Open Championship can be with all the adrenaline flying through your system. Out of bounds and the Firth of Clyde will await very wayward shots to the right. Four fairway bunkers, two at each side, guard the fairway but a long iron off the tee would be the sensible choice. Having navigated your ball between the sentinel bunkers on the fairway you have another five to avoid around the green. These bunkers are fierce, deep and punishing hazards that will make the sand save tough. Take your par and let the nerves calm down.
Hole No.2- Black Rock- 390 yards- Par 4
Another fairly straightforward hole but with a bit more trouble. Again, you’ll probably see the vast majority of the field taking the long iron option here to avoid the fairway bunkers. There is a cheeky pot bunker on the right side of the fairway that will collect shots and make the par really tough. Like the first, a green that is well guarded by sand awaits your short-iron approach. These openers require straight and true well-struck golf shots.
Hole No.3- Gyaws- 377 yards- Par 4
The name of this hole refers to the old Scottish word for a furrow or drain as this hole has a burn running across the fairway. The longer hitters in the field will be hitting a fairway metal or long iron from this tee, depending on the wind, as the burn is 280 yards from the tee. Two fairway bunkers on the left guard against the overly safe tee shot. This green slopes from front to back making holding the putting surface a bit of a challenge. Again some troublesome pot bunkers guard the entrance to this green.
Hole No.4- Dunure- 555 yards- Par 5
OK you’ve played nice conservative golf through the first four and now you’re ready to attack the course a bit. During the 2004 Open this was the second easiest hole in the tournament so birdies are there to be had especially down-breeze. Three bunkers guard the landing zone and, quite frankly, you must avoid them if you want your birdie. The green at the 4th is on two-tiers and most should reach this hole in two so expect some eagles and lots of birdies here.
Hole No.5- Greenan- 209 yards- Par 3
It’s time for your first par three and it’s a tough one. The tricky par three is made tougher by the prevailing wind which comes off of the water and from the right of the tee. This hole requires a less-aggressive play to the centre of the green. Missing long and left will leave a delicate chip down the slope and four bunkers provide protection to the green too. This is another hole where you take your three and walk to the next tee feeling happy with your work.
Hole No.6- Turnberry- 601 yards- Par 5
For many years this was the longest hole on The Open rota until it was surpassed by the 14th at St Andrews in 2005. Nonetheless it’s still a slog and nothing less than a striped tee shot is required. This is a tight fairway and is, of course protected by some fairway bunkering. Only the longest in the field will be looking to get there in two. The long narrow green is situated in a wonderful natural amphitheatre thanks to the sand dunes surrounding it.
Hole No.7- Tel-el-Kebir- 401 yards- Par 4
The strange name comes from a battle in Egypt and for the first time in your round you have come away from the coastline. The huge sand dunes make this hole a wonderful natural dogleg with yet more traps narrowing your landing zone. This hole is one of the easier ones on the course and provides some mild respite before the next.
Hole No.8- Postage Stamp- 123 yards- Par 3
Easily the most famous hole on Royal Troon this signature par three is treacherous. Ernie Els carded an ace here in 2004 and this hole sits on the side of a large sand hill making the putting surface small and the punishment for missing it great. Bunkers must be avoided especially the incredibly narrow and deep Coffin bunker. The name of the hazard says all that needs to be said about it. This is a wonderfully entertaining hole for the spectators but a nerve-jangling one for the competitors.
Hole No.9- The Monk- 422 yards- Par 4
Out at the corner of the course this tough par four marks the continuation of a tough stretch on the course. The rough and the fairway bunkers on the ninth will cause you great trouble and so many players will opt for the long iron from the tee again even though it makes for a lengthy approach. This green drops away on both sides and missing the putting surface will test your short game. Certainly one of the tougher holes but, just to make you feel better, the back nine at Troon is where the real test begins…
Hole No.10- Sandhills- 451 yards- Par 4
The course now turns and you start making your way back to the clubhouse but many trials and tribulations await you. The tenth hole was the third hardest during The Open in 2004 and it will be a similar test this year. There are certainly birdies available for players who hit great tee shots but also expect high numbers, especially if you find the gorse which is very close to the left of the green. There is no sand on this hole, not that it makes it any easier though.
Hole No.11- The Railway- 482 yards- Par 4
This is the hardest hole on the course and in 1962 the great Jack Nicklaus, in his first appearance at The Open, carded a ten here! This hole runs alongside the railway line, hence the name, and there is a lot of gorse flanking the hole to be avoided. A solitary bunker guards the green on the left and the railway line is tight to the right. This hole was changed from a par five to a par four for the 1997 Open but a four here still very much feels like a shot gained. If the wind blows then you can be sure to see some big numbers here!
Hole No.12- The Fox- 430 yards- Par 4
This gentle dogleg has a fairly tight fairway that narrows at the landing zone. The hog’s back on the fairway can give you a bonus thirty yards if you hit it just right and will make the hole a great birdie opportunity. Again there are fewer bunkers on this hole but the copious gorse framing the hole is a hazard that will cause great trouble to wayward shots. The green here is tiny so you want to be coming in with as short an iron as possible and it is also over two tiers. The greenside bunker on the right is position Z it must be avoided!
Hole No.13- Burmah- 473 yards- Par 4
Having survived, or maybe not, the toughest stretch on the course this is a bit of an easier proposition but certainly not an easy hole. Again, like the tenth, this hole features no bunkers. The dogleg right is usually into the wind but a solid drive to the rolling fairway can often get a nice bounce forward and help shorten the hole for you. A mid-iron will probably be needed for your approach, depending on the breeze of course, and the elevated green is a tester.
Hole No.14- Alton- 178 yards- Par 3
All of the final six holes play to the north and so tend to play into the wind. The difficulty of this hole is really dictated by pin placement but anything short will most likely end up in a bunker and a very tough par save. It’s worth taking an extra club here for sure!
Hole No. 15- Crosbie- 499 yards- Par 4
This is the longest par four on the card and is a brute if the wind gets up! The plateau fairway makes for a semi-blind tee shot but drives down the left half of the short grass set-up the hole best. There are four small nasty bunkers ready to catch weak wayward drives on windy days and equally punishing bunkers lie in wait short of the green. Many will not be able to get to this in two if the wind picks up so you can expect to see some great scrambles for par here to keep the scoreboard ticking over in the final stretch. Many challengers may see their chase fade here.
Hole No. 16- Well- 554 yards- Par 5
This hole played the easiest of all in the 2004 Open and Tiger eagled it on his way to a 64 in 1997. It’s a mid-length par five and definitely a chance to charge for home by picking up a shot or two. A burn runs along the fairway at around 280 yards, the same one that features on the third and only the longest hitters will attempt to carry it from the tee. It’s classic risk/reward golf as a shot over the burn opens up a wider landing zone and much shorter approach. The green is fiercely protected by bunkers but there are definitely birdies, or better, to be had here.
Hole No. 17- Rabbit- 220 yards- Par 3
Don’t rule out players hitting driver here if the wind blows and this is a tough green to hold. This is probably the toughest par three on the course and a trio of bunkers off to the right will gobble-up any weak tee shots. Centre of the green is just what the doctor ordered, take your three and walk to the next tee.
Hole No. 18- Craigend- 458 yards- Par 4
Your palms are sweaty as you stand with just one hole in between you and the Claret Jug. Gulp! Lots of fairway bunkers and heavy rough make this a daunting tee shot although it’s certainly not the hardest on the course. The landing zone is on the generous side. The green is guarded by some long narrow bunkers with some fairway bunkers sitting about thirty yards short of the putting surface awaiting anyone trying to run one up. The clubhouse sits just behind the green and frames the hole beautifully. This is where golfing history is going to be made on Sunday.
Discover the full All Square profile of Royal Troon: https://www.allsquaregolf.com/golf-courses/scotland/royal-troon-golf-club