On a recent trip to the Highlands to visit Glenmorangie House and the famous whisky brand’s distillery in Tain, I was fortunate enough to take in a spot of golf at two of the best courses in the Highlands – Royal Dornoch and Castle Stuart.
For my game at this year’s Scottish Open venue I was joined by Alasdair Cameron, the vice-captain of Royal Troon, and before our round I took time to ask him how preparations were going for this year’s 145th Open Championship, and what had changed most since Royal Troon’s last Open in 2004.
In the accompanying video here, Alasdair told me about the quickening pace of preparations as the big week approaches, and the challenges the club had faced following one of the wettest winters on record on the Ayrshire coast.
Unbeknown to me at the time, a couple of months later I would get the surprise opportunity to play the famous links just a few weeks before the world’s best hit town, and can confirm that if the wet winter had caused a degree of consternation at the time, there appears to be no cause for concern now with the course in magnificent condition.
It had been 12 years since I’d last played it, and maybe it was the excellent weather I enjoyed, but the course seemed blessed with a far greater inner beauty than I could recall from that previous visit.
As many will know, you need to make your score heading out at Royal Troon, as from The Postage Stamp 8th hole onwards, things get decidedly tough, and many would agree with Alasdair’s assessment that the back nine is indeed the toughest on the Open rota in the prevailing wind.
That’s certainly how my round panned out, with a birdie on The Postage Stamp helping me make it to the turn in level par, before hanging on as gamely as I could coming home in what was really only a moderate breeze.
Expect many, many scorecards at this year’s Open to show a significant discrepancy between the front-nine and back-nine totals!