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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 202
I T’S NO player’s favourite Open Championship venue, yet Royal Troon Golf Club’s Old course possesses a timeless quality and a decidedly split personality that inherently impacts the outcome. The Jekyll-Hyde layout usually offers ample scoring opportunities on the outward nine as it plays almost entirely with the prevailing wind along the Ayrshire coast. Inevitably, however, golfers know they must turn for home back into it as Troon bears its teeth on the back nine. As such, it’s not uncommon to see lopsided nine-hole scores during The Open, such as 30-40—70 or 32- 39—71 during which the player laments no change in fortune other than the conditions. Just one hole on each half, the par-3 8th [pictured] and par-4 12th switch against the outward or inward run. The 8th is among the most famous holes in golf, known as the “Postage Stamp” ever since 1887 and 1889 Open champion Willie Park Jnr coined the name more than a century ago. In a 1909 magazine article, Park described the tiny green as “a pitching surface skimmed down to the size of a postage stamp”. The 123-yard (112-metre) hole is the first played into the prevailing breeze and can stun golfers who have enjoyed the relative simplicity of the opening seven. The skinny green is protected by five bunkers, two benched into the hillside to the left, two set well below the surface within a drop-off on the right and a fifth in front to gobble up any running approach. Complicating matters is the slightly elevated teeing ground that forces all shots to combat the wind as there is simply nowhere for the ball to hide. The dune to the left can mask the wind, another factor to weigh up. When your correspondent played Troon two years ago, I dumped a punched 7-iron into one of the right-hand bunkers then, thinking it was a poor result, re-teed and over-corrected by hooking one way left of the dune into an impossible – and obviously far worse – position.
GA Express 201
GA Express 203