Royal Troon Golf Club

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Touring the Troon Links in Scotland (and in History)

The approach to the green on the 391 yards par 4, 2nd hole Black Rock on the Old Course at Royal Troon
The approach to the second hole at Royal Troon, the one called 'Black Rock.' It is a 391-yard par-4. David Cannon/Getty Images

Royal Troon Golf Club is one of the famous clubs of Great Britain, whose Old Course is part of the Open rota of links courses where the British Open is played. The club dates to the 1870s and also includes a second 18-hole links, and on the championship course one of the most-famous holes in the world of golf, the one called "Postage Stamp."

The links' holes are guarded by heather and gorse, pot bunkers and larger bunkers, and winds that typically blow across the links as a southwesterly crosswind. Do your scoring early at Troon, they say, because the second nine is much tougher than the front nine.

Royal Troon had a men-only membership policy for its entire existence until voting, in 2016, to begin allowing women to join the club as members. (Women were always able to play the golf course.)

Over the following pages we'll learn much more about Royal Troon and its Old Course, its history and the championships that have taken place there - plus whether you can play the links if you visit there.

Where Is Royal Troon Golf Club?
Royal Troon is located by the town of Troon on the southwestern coast of Scotland, on linksland against the Firth of Clyde, approximately 35 miles southwest of Glasgow. Royal Troon is surrounded by other golf courses, including (as just a few of many examples) original Open venue Prestwick Golf Club; the Turnberry Resort and its Ailsa Course to the south; and Kilmarnock and Western Gailes to the north.

  • Address: Craigend Road, Troon, Ayrshire, KA10 6EP, United Kingdom
  • Phone: +44 (0) 1292 311 555
  • Website:
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Can You Play Royal Troon?

The 601 yards par 5, 6th hole Turnberry on the Old Course at Royal Troon
The sixth hole at Troon is a par-5 of 601 yards, and is named after another famous nearly links, Turnberry. David Cannon/Getty Images

Yes! Although Royal Troon Golf Club is a membership club, visitors are welcome to play the links during designated times. Those times are limited to certain months (typically around April through October), certain days of the week, and certain times of day.

For example, in 2016 "Visitors Days" at Royal Troon were:

  • April 18 through Oct. 6
  • Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m. tee times

Those are just examples of what the policy was in 2016; the specifics may change. Also note that even within these designated visitors times, the Old Course might be closed for a tournament or other event.

The moral of the story: Know before you set in stone your travel plans; certainly know before you book and know before you go.

The Troon website includes a section for visitors. Click into that section to find the specifics for Visitors Days, an inquiry form to ask questions, or to book specific tee times.

As a visitor to Troon, you'll be required to show proof of handicap. The maximum allowed handicap for any men wanting to play Troon is 20; for women, 30. Handicap higher than that? Sorry, you can't play the Troon Old Course.

Dress Code
Show up in "suitable golfing attire" or you won't get onto the course. Troon's website states that "tailored shorts are allowed on the courses and Clubhouse surrounds. Jeans, trainers, and round neck tee shirts are not allowed on the courses or in the Clubhouse." If you want to enter the Ailsa Room, dining room or club bar before or after the round, "smart casual" attire is required.

Want a caddie for your round? They are available but you must request your caddie in advance.

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Royal Troon's Postage Stamp

The 123 yards par 3, 8th hole Postage Stamp on the Old Course at Royal Troon
Looking to the green on the short par-3 No. 8 hole at Royal Troon known as 'Postage Stamp.'. David Cannon/Getty Images

The most famous thing about Royal Troon's Old Course links is the No. 8 hole, named "Postage Stamp." The Postage Stamp hole is one of the most-famous par-3 holes in all of golf. It's only 123 yards long, yet it always plays tough in British Opens. That's because the green is only 10 paces side-to-side, and menacing bunkers await shots that are merely a smidge wayward.

The No. 8 hole was named "Ailsa" when it was designed and built by then-Troon professional Willie Fernie in 1909. But an article that appeared in Golf Illustrated, written by one William Park, described the hole as having a "pitching surface skimmed down to the size of a Postage Stamp." And the Postage Stamp name was born.

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Highs and Lows at the Postage Stamp

The green on the par 3, 8th hole The Postage Stamp with the par 4, 7th hole behind on the Old Course at Royal Troon
A view of the small and very narrow Postage Stamp green, Royal Troon's 8th hole (with the 7th hole in the background). David Cannon/Getty Images

The No. 8 hole on the Old Course is not just the shortest hole at Royal Troon, but it's the shortest hole on any of the links in the Open rota.

Despite that fact, one of the highest single-hole scores in Open Championship history happened on the Postage Stamp. During the 1950 British Open, German amateur Herman Tissies scored 15 on the hole. He hit into a bunker off the tee, then went back-and-forth, over the green, from bunker to bunker, several times - with a few other misfires along the way.

But one of the most-famous shots in British Open history also happened at the Postage Stamp. In the 1973 British Open, Gene Sarazen - 71 years old and playing 41 years after his victory in the 1932 Open - aced the eighth hole

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Significant Tournaments Played at Royal Troon

The 423 yards par 4, 9th hole, The Monk, on the Old Course at Royal Troon
Looking down the gorse-bounded fairway of the No. 9 hole - 'Monk' - at Royal Troon. It's a 423-yard par-4. David Cannon/Getty Images

Royal Troon Golf Club has played host to major championships in men's pro and amateur golf, senior golf and women's amateur golf. Here is the list, with the winners of each tournament:

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Hole Names on Troon's Old Course

A view from behind the green on the 423 yards par 4, 9th hole at Royal Troon
Another view of the ninth hole at Royal Troon's Old Course, this view from behind the green. David Cannon/Getty Images

Each hole at Royal Troon has a name. Here are the names of the holes on the Old Course, with, in most cases, an explanation of the name:

  • Hole 1 - Seal (Seal is the name of a chain of rocks just offshore, and on which seals sometimes show up to sun.)
  • Hole 2 - Black Rock
  • Hole 3 - Gyaws (Named after the Gyaws Burn that crosses this and the 16th fairways. "Gyaws" is Old Scots for "furrow" or "drain.")
  • Hole 4 - Dunure (Dunure is the name of a town and castle south of Troon.)
  • Hole 5 - Greenan
  • Hole 6 - Turnberry (The Turnberry resort and links is south of Troon and its point - where the Turnberry lighthouse stands - is visible from Troon.)
  • Hole 7 - Tel-el-Kebir (Tel el-Kebir was the name of a battle fought between British and Egyptian armies in Egypt in 1882, shortly before the hole was created.)
  • Hole 8 - Postage Stamp
  • Hole 9 - The Monk (The hole faces the village of Monkton, southeast of Troon.)
  • Hole 10 - Sandhills
  • Hole 11 - The Railway (The railroad runs alongside the hole.)
  • Hole 12 - The Fox (Not many foxes left at Troon - the woods where they used to live around this hole have mostly been cut down.)
  • Hole 13 - Burmah ("Burmah" is an archaic spelling of "Burma," the country today called Myanmar. James Dickie, one of Troon's founders, had business interests in Burma.)
  • Hole 14 - Alton (Named after the Fullarton estate, across the railroad tracks.)
  • Hole 15 - Crosbie ("Crosbie" was the name of a fortification on the Fullarton estate.)
  • Hole 16 - Well
  • Hole 17 - Rabbit (They still hop around Troon today.)
  • Hole 18 - Craigend ("Craigend" was the name of a farm whose grazing lands became the site of the Royal Troon links.)
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Pars and Yardages of the Holes

The 438 yards par 4, 10th hole Sandhills on the Old Course at Royal Troon
The hole called Sandhills is No. 10 on the Old Course at Royal Troon. It's a par-4 of 438 yards. David Cannon/Getty Images

The par ratings and yards of each hole on the Old Course at Troon (yardages are those used for the 2016 Open Championship):

No. 1 - Par 4 - 367 yards
No. 2 - Par 4 - 390 yards
No. 3 - Par 4 - 377 yards
No. 4 - Par 5 - 555 yards
No. 5 - Par 3 - 209 yards
No. 6 - Par 5 - 601 yards
No. 7 - Par 4 - 401 yards
No. 8 - Par 3 - 123 yards
No. 9 - Par 5 - 422 yards
Out - Par 36 - 3,445 yards
No. 10 - Par 4 - 451 yards
No. 11 - Par 4 - 482 yards
No. 12 - Par 4 - 430 yards
No. 13 - Par 4 - 473 yards
No. 14 - Par 3 - 178 yards
No. 15 - Par 4 - 499 yards
No. 16 - Par 5 - 554 yards
No. 17 - Par 3 - 220 yards
No. 18 - Par 4 - 458 yards
In - Par 35 - 3,745 yards
Total - Par 71 - 7,190 yards

The Troon Old Course has four sets of tees for members and visitors:

  • Championship: 7,208 yards, par 71 (SSS - Standard Scratch Score - 75)
  • White: 6,632 yards, par 71 (SSS 73)
  • Yellow: 6,170 yards, par 71 (SSS 71)
  • Ladies: 6,108 yards, par 75 (SSS 76)

Other Courses

The Portland Course opened in 1895, designed by Troon professional Willie Fernie. Alister MacKenzie, later designer of Augusta National Golf Club, redesigned the Portland Course in the early 1920s. The course has five par-3 holes and five par-5 holes, and four of the par-5s are, very unusually, on the back nine. This links is shorter than the Old Course, tipping out at 6,349 yards.

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Royal Troon History

The 490 yards par 4, 11th hole 'The Railway' on the Old Course at Royal Troon
Looking up the 11th fairway of the hole named Railway, with a train going by on the right. David Cannon/Getty Images

Troon Golf Club was founded 1878. The first club captain was James Dickie, and Dickie helped work out a deal for the club's land with the Duke of Portland, who owned the linksland south of the town of Troon.

The club brought in Charlie Hunter, greenskeeper at nearby Prestwick and a onetime apprentice to Old Tom Morris, to shape the first six greens.

Another six holes were added in 1883, and another six opened for play in 1885.

Willie Fernie, the club's second professional, left a huge impact on Troon's Old Course by (among other things) designing the Postage Stamp (No. 8) and Railway (No. 11) holes, both built in 1909 and the best-known holes at Troon today.

Fernie also, in 1895, laid out what was originally called the Relief Course at Troon, but is today known as the Portland Course.

In 1904, "The Ladies Championship" - what we call the British Ladies Amateur Championship today - was the first national championship played at Troon.

On its 100th anniversary in 1978, Troon Golf Club received its "Royal" designation, becoming Royal Troon Golf Club.

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More Troon Trivia and History

The 457 yards par 4, 18th hole on the Old Course at Royal Troon
Looking to the 18th green at Royal Troon Golf Club, with the clubhouse behind. David Cannon/Getty Images
  • Troon's first professional was George Strath, a member of a famous St. Andrews set of brothers (Andrew Strath won the 1865 British Open). George Strath, according to Troon's club history, was the first Scottish golf professional to emigrate to the United States.
  • Strath left Troon in 1887 and was replaced as professional by Willie Fernie. Fernie won the 1883 Open and was runner-up four times. He served as club pro until 1924.
  • In its long history that dates to the 1870s, Troon has had only six head professionals: Strath and Fernie, followed by Duncan McCulloch (1924-1953), Bill Henderson (1953-1970), Brian Anderson (1971-2007) and the current head pro, Kieron Stevenson.
  • The Open Championship first came to Troon in 1923, and Arthur Havers won it by holing out from a bunker on the final hole.
  • At the 1950 Open at Troon, won by Bobby Locke, two scores of special significance were posted. There was the 15 (mentioned on a previous page) on the Postage Stamp by Herman Tissies. And there was a final-round 66 by Frank Stranahan that stood as the lowest round by an amateur in the Open until 2011.
  • Arnold Palmer won the second of his back-to-back Open Championships in 1962, at Troon. Palmer's popularity led the R&A to institute the roping-and-staking of fairways and fencing off of course boundaries for crowd control, the first time that had been done at an Open.
  • The first aggregate-score playoff in British Open history happened at Royal Troon in 1989. Previously, playoffs had consisted of a full, 18-hole round. But the R&A switched to a 4-hole, cumulative score format and in 1989 Mark Calcavecchia won the first one employed.