250,000 spectators set for Royal Troon this July

Ronan MacNamara

The Claret Jug is displayed during previews for The 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon Golf Club (Photo by Ross Parker/R&A via Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Golf’s oldest major championship only looks to be getting better and bigger with age and the 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon will be no different.

The last time the Claret Jug docked in Troon was in 2016 when a total of 173,000 watched the back nine duel between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson. This July a whopping 250,000 spectators will pour through the turnstiles in what will. be the third highest attendance in history.

The 150th Open in St Andrews attracted 290,000 fans while 260,000 descended on Hoylake (Royal Liverpool) last year. The 152nd is officially a sellout based on tickets sold although there will be a re-sale platform for spectators closer to the Open.

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

77,000 spectators is a huge increase in footfall set to descend on Royal Troon and Woodcock is confident that the golf course can handle the added numbers.

“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.”

Subtle yet key changes have been made to the famous links in order to keep up with modern driving distance while still providing a fair test of golf and maintaining the traditional design of the links course.

Royal Troon will pack a punch at 7,385 yards, an increase of 195 yards on the 2016 Open Championship.

The par-5 6th hole will be officially the longest hole in Open history at a whopping 623 yards – which played into a 30km/h gale on Tuesday’s Open media day.

In what really makes the Open Championship so great is that just two holes later, the players will tackle the shortest hole in Open history, the par-3 8th which measures at just 123 yards.

The famous ‘Postage Stamp’ can be shortened down to a mere 99 yards with a devilish front pin tucked over the infamous right front bunker.

Despite appearing nothing more than a flick of a wedge – “You could throw a ball down there,” said the R&A’s director of championship operations, Rhodri Price – this will be no less difficult than the 600 plus yard par-5 6th.

“Wee beastie” took its fair share of prisoners in 2016 with the coffin bunker ruining many a card.

During a practice round seven years ago, Rory McIlroy took six shots to get out of the right bunker, eventually holing out for an eight.

The par-3 17th at Hoylake last year was a very popular spot with a three sided grandstand engulfing the tee box, creating a carnival atmosphere.

The Postage Stamp will be no different with a wraparound grandstand, holding 1,500 spectators sure to be a much sought after vantage point.

TV cameras will be placed in all five bunkers to capture the entertainment from the sandy graves.

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