Saturday, 1 January 2011

8th at Royal Troon

Photo by David Scaletti
One of the most delightful shots in all of golf is the tee shot on the short par three 8th hole at Royal Troon. Only 126 yards away, with a beautiful backdrop of the sea and Ailsa Crag, the green seems inviting. The least enjoyable shot is the next one because most people have found they have missed the tiny green and now are scrambling to recover at best a par.

Willie Park gave the hole it’s famous name in Golf Illustrated when he described it as “a pitching surface skimmed down to the size of a postage stamp”. Much has been written about the hole mainly because of the many famous holes in ones, and just as many mid Open disasters too.

The shot is from a high plateau, over a small gully to an extremely narrow green set into the side of a large sandhill. The front of the green is protected by a large deep chasm of a bunker that will gobble up anything short. Two bunkers protect the left side along with the large dune. The bail side initially appears to be right, but this is where the disaster looms. The right bunkers are extremely deep and the recovery is up and onto the narrowest part of green with the left side bunker in behind. Back and forth between bunkers is common. Missing the bunker completely on the right finds you down in a deep hollow in with a tight lie with the green well above you and only 6 paces wide!. Simply put this benign looking hole has no where to miss.

What can be learned? A narrow target is the hardest to hit. If you want to make something hard, reduce the width of the green and flank it with bunkers. Front bunkers are less important than side bunkers for creating difficulty. The fact that the green is flat and on a slight angle only adds to the difficulty of the hole. More greens should be either level to demand more skill of the approach shot.

No comments:

Post a Comment