Royal Troon 2016 Open Championship Course Changes Revealed

In the run-up to this year’s Open Championship at Royal Troon, Golf Monthly has had the opportunity to chat to both R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers, who succeeded Peter Dawson last year, and club vice-captain Alasdair Cameron about the changes to Troon’s famous old links for the 145th Open, and the test it is likely to pose for the world’s best.

In the Q&A below, Slumbers highlights the most significant changes to the tough par-4 15th, before emphasising how stern a test the back-nine is likely to prove. In the accompanying video – shot in the tasting room at the Glenmorangie distillery in Tain on a visit to the Highlands with the official ‘Spirit of The Open’ – Cameron adds in some thoughts on the changes to the 8th and 9th, and how the members feel about those changes…

What are the most significant course changes at Royal Troon since the 2004 Open?

Martin Slumbers: The changes are not major at all. We will play the course at an official yardage of 7,175, which is just 15 yards longer, so we’ve not added length. There are a number of bunkers that have been changed or moved and a couple of new tees, but the most material change is to the 15th, where we’ve moved the tee to the left. It now plays essentially as a straight hole as it was originally designed, whereas before it was played as a left-to-right dogleg where the challenge was being able to keep it on the fairway.

So you’ve made Troon’s renowned back nine a fraction easier?

MS: No, I wouldn’t think so. We’ve tried to get the course balanced. The first six holes provide opportunities for the players to score, as the prevailing wind should be with them. The 7th, 8th and 9th are in a loop of their own, with the glorious Postage Stamp 8th one of the best par 3s in the world of golf. Then you turn, and holes 10 to 13 will be very important. They played hard last time and will play just as hard this time. They’re very difficult, but fair, driving holes and then once you get through 13, the end is about as good as it gets in links golf.

How are things shaping up on the ground now with a few weeks to go?

MS: It’s been a very wet winter – most of the locals have told us it was as wet as they could remember. A number of fairways had substantial areas under water, but the greenkeepers have done a tremendous job and really should get all the credit they deserve. They were pumping continuously and preserving it as best they could, and the weather is now turning in our favour. The agronomy report I received recently is looking good, so let’s hope we don’t get any more really wet weather and can get the firm and fast conditions we like.