The Open brings the best players to some of the world's finest golf courses. But where does Royal Troon rank among Open courses? Neil Tappin takes a detailed look at its position and what 2016 might mean for this historic old course
This year the Open returns to Royal Troon for the first time since 2004. Troon has been on the Open rota since 1923, hosting the Championship eight times (2016 will be the ninth). The roll call of winners produce by this fearsome west coast challenge is dominated by Americans – Palmer, Weiskopf and Watson are all on the list. This begs the question, where does Royal Troon rank among Open courses?
Well, below shows where the courses that are currently on the rota sit. Not surprisingly, they all feature very highly within our Top 100 UK and Ireland Courses list.
Where does Royal Troon rank among Open courses?
St Andrews – 3
Turnberry – 4
Royal Birkdale – 5
Carnoustie – 6
Royal St George’s – 7
Royal Lytham & St Anne’s – 9
Royal Portrush – 11
Royal Liverpool – 12
Royal Troon – 29
Previous Open courses, not currently on the rota
Muirfield – 1
Prestwick – 46
Royal Cinque Ports – 56
Prince’s – Did not make the Top 100
Musselburgh Links – Did not make the Top 100
Full List: UK & Ireland Top 100 Courses 2015/16
As you can see, Troon is the only current Open course, not in our current Top 15. But given its impressive reputation, why? The answer is complicated. Firstly, and without question, Royal Troon is the most under-stated of all the Open venues. The club does not court publicity and as such rarely features in any absolute ‘must-play’ lists. Troon also sits in the shadow of Turnberry. Just 25 miles between them, Turnberry is one of the greatest, most visually appealing golf courses on the planet. Furthermore, the recent wave of changes made since the property was acquired by Donald Trump has, according to Golf Monthly’s contributing editor Jeremy Ellwood, significantly imprived both the challenge and the aesthetics of the layout.
Thirdly, Troon lacks the drama of somewhere like Carnoustie or even Lytham. It is a brutal test but few would be able to call upon specific moments that have become iconic in the history of the course.
Related: Open Championship Golf Betting Tips
Royal Troon 2016: The Championship Layout
Finally, Troon is very flat. Now, the same can be said of a few of the Open courses but Troon doesn’t offer the sea views of some of the others and the landscape is certainly less photogenic.
Royal Troon: Hole-by-hole guide
With this in mind, that leads us on to another important question, is Troon any less of a test? The short and easy answer to this in no. The back nine is one of the most fearsome stretches on the entire rota. If the prevailing wind prevails, the field will play a string of long, tight par 4s straight into the wind. This is not for the feint-hearted!
The 2016 Open will place Royal Troon back in the spotlight for the first time since 2004. If it is an exciting tournament, Troon will come out with its reputation and position within the game enhanced further still. Finding itself at the centre of the golfing universe may well help Troon’s position among its class of Open courses. We shall wait and see!