The Open ready to offer fiendish test with two signature holes at Royal Troon

The Open Championship returns to Royal Troon, the scene of Henrik Stenson’s famous triumph in 2016 with the sixth and eighth holes likely to prove pivotal for the winner of the claret jug

Jack Rathborn
Thursday 02 May 2024 15:30 BST
(Getty Images)

The 152nd Open Championship this summer will feature both the shortest and longest holes in its history.

The best men’s players in the world, from both sides of the PGA Tour and LIV Golf divide, will descend on Royal Troon, Ayrshire to conclude the 2024 major championship season from 18-21 July.

And the R&A has announced that two holes, over a four-hole stretch, will create history and influence who walks away with the claret jug this year.

The par five sixth (Turnberry) will test the players’ power over 623 yards, an increase of 22 yards, to divide the field and pose an intriguing strategic dilemma for the players over whether to attack the green in two or three strokes. Should the win hit speeds of 30km/h into face, players will face a daunting test of distance.

And, soon after, the field moves on to the iconic Postage Stamp two holes later with a 123-yard test from the championship markers. However, the ever-erratic Scottish weather could further shorten the hole, which is protected by notoriously steep coffin bunkers on either side of the green, with a front pin only measuring 99 yards from the tee box.

Shots missed to the left could force players into a sideways escape from the sand trap, given how dramatically the green slopes away to the right.

While the R&A expects 250,000 spectators across the week, 77,000 more than the 2016 championship, which produced an unforgettable duel between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson. This year’s championship will therefore be the third-most attended in history behind the 150th Open in St Andrews, which attracted 290,000 fans, while 260,000 descended on Hoylake (Royal Liverpool) last year.

“It’s a clear sign of the size of The Open,” said Mike Woodcock, the R&A’s director of corporate communications, with 22,500 under 25 and 13,000 part of the Kids Go Free initiative. “That’s testament to what The Open does for youngsters.

“There has been a huge amount of work done to assure that the number we bring in is the number the golf course can accommodate. There is a lot of space out there and we have done a lot of work on free flow pathways and spectator areas.

“We have done a lot of work off the course to ensure the fans can get around and enjoy good viewing areas. The grandstand seating we have put in can accommodate that. The Championship attendance has been increasing and by in large that has worked very well so it should be a great week and a great atmosphere.”

Stenson posted -20 eight years ago to win by three, but despite the Swede’s brilliance last time out at Troon, the R&A remains comfortable allowing the conditions to dictate scoring this summer.

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