The AIG Women’s Open in 2020 will be held at one of the great links courses as Royal Troon stages the Championship for the first time.
Troon, which has hosted nine Open Championships, is set to provide a formidable test, with a back nine that usually plays predominantly into the wind a particularly tricky proposition.
Ahead of Thursday’s opening tee shot at the South Ayrshire course, we take a look at four key holes that are likely to have a significant impact on the final outcome.
HOLE 8: THE POSTAGE STAMP, PAR 3, 114 YARDS
Troon’s signature hole, which gained its name when Willie Park referred to it as a “pitching surface skimmed down to the size of a postage stamp”, is comfortably the shortest on the course, but that certainly does not mean it is easy.
The margin for error is tiny as players aim to find a narrow green protected by five cavernous bunkers.
To make things trickier still, the eighth is the first hole on the course that usually plays into the wind, a factor that can have a significant effect on club selection.
Should the coastal gusts rise at any point in the week, the Postage Stamp promises to pose a particularly stern examination. Find the green and you will have a good birdie chance; miss it and the consequences could be brutal.
HOLE 10: SANDHILLS, PAR 4, 414 YARDS
One of the most daunting tee shots at Royal Troon comes at the 10th, where players cannot see the fairway they are aiming to find as they play into the prevailing wind.
Anyone missing the fairway with their blind shot over the sand dunes is in danger of being punished severely by gorse and rough.
Even if the short grass is found off the tee, the second shot can be tricky. A plateau green has a steep bank to its left that you would not want to land on, while the green drops away sharply to the right.
HOLE 11: THE RAILWAY, PAR 4, 421 YARDS
Any player competing in the AIG Women’s Open would surely be delighted to record four pars on the fiendishly difficult 11th.
An out-of-bounds railway line runs parallel to the hole on the right for its entire length, applying significant pressure to both the tee shot and the approach. The railway line comes particularly close to the green, so any pin position on the right half of the putting surface will be attacked at great risk.
As if that was not enough, gorse bushes await those who bail out to the left off the tee. Put simply, this hole demands accuracy.
HOLE 16: WELL, PAR 5, 533 YARDS
The finishing stretch at Troon is a tough one, but a potential birdie opportunity arrives at the 16th, a long hole with spectacular views of the sea.
A burn runs across the fairway around 245 yards from the front of the green, giving players something to think about when it comes to club selection off the tee, particularly if conditions are firm and fast.
Another heavily protected green is surrounded by five bunkers, with four further traps ready to gobble up loose lay-up shots. Anybody chasing victory on the final day will be under pressure to find a four here, but that is easier said than done.