Beware the pitfalls of the trap of Troon

By: samjack


The 11th hole at Royal Troon has claimed some famous victims and the key to winning the 133rd Open Championship will be negotiating its 490 yards successfully.
Jack Nicklaus once took a 10, Max Faulkner an 11, and the last time the Open was played at Troon Mark Roe marked his card with a nine after walking off the 11th green.
A former par five, the advent of golf club technology or perhaps the whim of some mischievous soul at the Royal and Ancient has seen the 11th lengthened by 27 yards and turned into one of the hardest par fours on the Open rota.
“It’s a treacherous par four that has to be hit over a sea of gorse,” said Tom Weiskopf, who won at Troon in 1973. “The green is difficult to hit in two and difficult to hold if you catch it.”
The 10th and 11th are seen as the two holes a player has to endure. Tiger Woods bogeyed both during his third round and it is a nasty start to the back nine. The results are plain to see. By the middle of the third round the 11th had been responsible for 85 bogeys, 32 double-bogeys and 12 scores even higher. The only guaranteed winners on the 11th are the locals who know you can get a free view of the course from an adjacent road.
Nestled next to a railway track and lined with thick gorse, it is certainly a picturesque setting for a player to lose not only his chance of winning the Open but also his ball.
Just ask Paul McGinley. His bag was a ball lighter after he pushed his tee shot right and saw it land in the biggest gorse bush on the course. Several minutes of searching by frantic marshals was in vain.
Three hours later the bush was refusing to give up its prize. “I’ve turned this bush upside down,” said one marshal. “I want to find it just so I can present it to McGinley. Then he will know we had a proper look.”
The tee is cut at a right-angle to the fairway and the line for the professionals is to aim at Troon’s Marine Hotel in the distance. It is a horror tee shot in a strong wind. A slight fade is crucial, as is sensible gorse management. A long iron or a fairway wood is the safe option off the tee. Any attempt to cut the corner over the foliage is a good way to shell a couple of strokes as the bushes are a bogey magnet. Thick and spiky, a ball that has ended up in a gorse bush is a lost cause.
The fairway is a narrow landing strip between the bushes. Hollows and mounds abound and on a hot, dry day – not a chance of that yesterday – a ball pitched on the fairway could easily scoot off into danger. The only good news is the lack of a fairway sand trap.
Those that reach the fairway then face an iron shot of about 225 yards into the green. For the amateur golfer a shank would end up on the railway tracks but the danger for the professional is in trying to hold the green.
A slope takes the ball to the right where a hollow makes for an interesting chip shot. Rory Sabbatini, perhaps feeling a little queasy at Ian Poulter’s liquorice allsort look, found that slipping off the green is costly. His chip scuttled to the far side and a bogey followed. His second in succession at the 11th.
Lee Westwood, during his third round of 68, played the 11th to perfection. His tee shot bounded down the middle, his second found the middle of the green, and a tap in followed. Sounds easy.

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