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The Open Championship: Hole-by-hole guide to Royal Troon Golf Club

The Open returns to Scotland next week, as the world's best descend on Royal Troon GC for the fourth and final Major of the season.

The famous Ayrshire links is staging the Open Championship for the 10th time, the first since Henrik Stenson beat Phil Mickelson at the end of an epic Sunday dubbed 'The Duel in the Sun' back in 2016.

With its traditional out-and-back layout, Troon is very much a differing test. The front nine typically plays downwind and would be considered the 'scoring nine', while the back nine at Troon is often played into the prevailing breeze, with score protection the order of the day.

As with any Open Championship – and more so those staged north of the border in Scotland – the weather will be key. The presence of gusting winds can make this a severe test of golf, even for the finest players in the world.

Royal Troon will also boast the longest hole in Open Championship history this year, following some changes to the layout.

When Stenson prevailed here nine years ago, he did so on a final score of 20-under par, which remains a joint-low 72-hole record at The Open.

With a winners' list that includes Arnold Palmer, Tom Weiskopf, Tom Watson, Mark Calcavecchia and Justin Leonard – who will become the latest to lift the famous Claret Jug at Royal Troon?

Here is a hole-by-hole guide to all 18 at Royal Troon Golf Club.

2024 Open Championship

1 – Seal – Par 4, 366 yards

The opening tee shot isn't the most daunting, despite the presence of the Ayrshire coastline to the right, but it requires concentration. The fairway is generous and this opening hole is routinely played straight down wind. Find the fairway and it's no more than a short-iron to the putting surface.

Mistakes from the tee will result in trouble as bunkers on the left are waiting for overly aggressive tee-shots lacking in accuracy. There are greenside bunkers left and right of the putting surface waiting to challenge players that put themselves under pressure on approach.

2 – Black Rock – Par 4, 389 yards

Once again, down wind and rewarding accuracy with the tee-shot, Black Rock typically plays down breeze and can present a decent scoring chance. Dangers await however, with more frequent and well-positioned bunkers making this tee shot slightly tougher than the first.

The sand traps have teeth, in the form of severe faces, and players that find them may be forced to take their punishment in escaping with a wedge, setting in motion a scramble for par.

3 – Gyaws – Par 4, 376 yards

A stream meanders through the middle of the third fairway, ensuring this hole will demand the players' attention from the tee. Down the right is the go-to place for those aiming to set up a decent birdie opportunity.

The third green has less bunker protection than the two holes that precede it, but there are run-off areas designed to funnel all but the purest of approach shots away from the green. Miss the green on approach and some imagination will be needed to secure par.

4 – Dunure – Par 5, 599 yards

The first par 5 at Royal Troon is a real scoring opportunity. The meaty hitters will be ready to fly the ball over a large bunker on the right side of the fairway and, from there, will leave themselves a mere mid-iron approach to what is considered a friendly putting surface with minimal bunkering surrounding it. The Open field will be eyeing birdies and better on this gentle hole.

5 – Greenan – Par 3, 220 yards

Arguably the first severe test of the round is the opening par 3 on the card, which comes in at 220 yards and is often played down wind. It boasts a collection of pot bunkers for those that veer left of target, while a well-positioned bunker front and right limits the bail-out options.

The green offers ample opportunity for the powers-that-be to select tricky flags that are tucked away and, all things considered, the field will be pleased to get out of here having made par.

6 – Turnberry – Par 5, 623 yards

An historic hole this year, it has been lengthened to make it the longest hole in the Championship's history at 623 yards. That length may be offset as the sixth tends to play downwind, but it will be a proper three-shot experience for anyone should the breeze turn.

Off the tee things are fairly straightforward to a generous landing zone, but things get more testing from there, especially for those attacking a narrow green in two. The putting surface has some severe undulations and there are lots of difficult pin positions that make an up-and-down from around the green no certainty.

7- Tel-el-Kibir – Par 4, 403 yards

The first hole at Troon to play directly away from the sea. There are plenty of bunkers in play from the tee but finding the short grass should leave a short-iron approach to the green.

As with the sixth, this green is long and narrow with plenty of perilous spots in and around it to make scrambling tough. Accuracy is the currency to deal in rather than power.

8 – Postage Stamp – Par 3, 123 yards

Just 123 yards long and a mere flick of a wedge in idyllic conditions, this remains one of The Open's iconic holes. The tiny putting surface gives rise to the name and Postage Stamp is capable of sending Major dreams spiralling.

This hole may play as short as 99 yards in one of the four rounds but, despite that, it will be amongst the most demanding and any player ending up in one of its deep bunkers will be doing well to make par. Getting to the next tee unscathed is a desirable outcome.

9 – The Monk – Par 4, 440 yards

The closing hole on the front nine, The Monk is generous off the tee but there are plenty of run-offs from the fairway and bunker-danger down the left. A blind second shot is often on the menu, and holding the putting surface when this hole plays down wind is no gimme as the field gets ready for a fearsome run to the clubhouse.

10 – Sandhills – Par 4, 450 yards

This hole takes its name from the large sandhills that precede the fairway and, from the back tee into the breeze, any shot that isn't pure will find trouble. The tee positions vary, as does the difficulty of the opening shot in conjunction, but the uphill approach to the green is demanding in the extreme and, even with a wedge in hand, finding the putting surface is far from assured.

11 – The Railway – Par 4, 498 yards

Troon's toughest test. As the name suggests this hole is defined by the railway line that runs up the right hand side, almost breasting the fairway in places.

The tee shot is demanding, with a carry over gorse bushes for those brave enough to take the perfect line. Get there and the approach is no less taxing. The railway line remains in play, with more gorse on the opposite side for anyone seeking to steer clear, while a long greenside bunker lies in wait for what is always a long, daunting approach shot.

12 – The Fox – Par 4, 451 yards

Not as fearsome as the opening holes on the back nine, but the tee-shot on the 12th has intimidating gorse bushes in play and a dog-leg fairway that rates quite difficult to find and hold in what can typically be a crosswind. There are two large bunkers protecting what is an extremely challenging green complex.

13 – Burmah – Par 4, 473 yards

Another of Troon's tests that become that bit simpler if a fairway can be found off the tee. This hole lacks bunkering comparable to some around it, but a small and raised green will demand a perfect approach or, once more, the scrambling gear will be called upon as The Open field finds itself battling to protect themselves.

14 – Alton – Par 3, 200 yards

This par 3 offers some respite on paper, with the majority of the danger being with the bunkers that lurk short of the putting surface, ensuring players must take enough club to navigate towards the back of a green that widens as it deepens. As with all par 3s at Troon, make a mistake and players can put a major blot on the scorecard in the blink of an eye.

15 – Crosbie – Par 4, 502 yards

The 15th demands the most sought after of links shots, but one that can be tough to find in a Scottish breeze – a long straight drive. There are plenty of fairway bunkers and danger lurking left.

A long second usually awaits and it will be semi-blind for plenty, with most of the trouble left, although a well-placed bunker on the right will spell trouble for anyone that hasn't got the requisite carry on their approach.

16 – Well – Par 5, 572 yards

The concluding par 5 on the course, this one features a burn cutting through the fairway that poses a quandary for plenty. Those that can sail beyond it will have a glaring birdie chance. Those that cannot will be forced to lay up. A cross bunker awaits those caught in between those strategies. Lots of bunkers surround the green and while this is a strong chance to gain a shot, it can soon go wrong.

17 – Rabbit – Par 3, 242 yards

Standing at 242 yards long and routinely played into the breeze, the concluding par 3 is named Rabbit as players try to avoid seeing their Open dreams caught in the headlights.

A hat-trick of cross bunkers precede the green, while there is a devilish pot bunker greenside and anyone finding sand will be forced to exhibit world-class par-saving skills to remain on track.

18 – Craigend – Par 4, 458 yards

The final tee-shot at Troon is very demanding, with a series of strategically placed bunkers down the left ensuring players of all lengths are tested. For those attempting to power their way home, there is another sandy grave awaiting further down the right.

Plenty of bunkers are in play for the second shot and finding any of those will result in a serious battle for par, while the daunting out-of-bounds that sits beyond the green means players cannot breathe easily until they are safely aboard the putting surface.

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