"For many years, the Postage Stamp hole haunted me; I feared it” - Gene Sarazen
It may be the shortest hole in Open Championship golf but it is 123 yards of pure treachery and a hole where you take a par and run for your life. The 8th hole at Royal Troon, “The Postage Stamp” demands a tee shot that comes to rest on the 10 yard wide putting surface and nothing else.
The hole as we know it now came into being in the winter of 1909-10, when a number of alterations were made to the course. Previously it had been a blind hole, with a tee shot played over the hill that is now to the left of the present green. The construction of the new green (the one we know today) brought the target into view from the tee, and shortened the hole by 50 yards.” Both Willie Fernie and James Braid played a role in what we see and play to this day.
In the early 1900’s, William Park wrote an article for “Golf Illustrated” in which he described the green on the 8th as “A putting surface skimmed down to the size of a postage stamp”. The famous name was born and it stuck.
To think of this hole as just a short tricky par three is to entirely miss the point though. Looking just at the scorecard it would seem like a simple enough hole. In fact, even standing at the tee on a nice day you could be forgiven for thinking that it should be a straightforward par. This hole perfectly sums up what a short par three should be.
Anything landing on the putting surface has a good chance at a birdie as you are never going to be that far from the hole on this “postage stamp”-sized green. However, go offline, even slightly and danger is waiting. The aptly named Coffin bunker, to the left of the green, has been ruinous for many a championship and amateur golfer alike. The four other bunkers can be equally troubling defenders of the green too.
Take great care when playing the “Postage Stamp”, underestimate it at your peril.
Words - Kenny Pallas
Photos - Graeme McCubbin
Video - Jamie Darling