The Open Championship returns for its 145th year, beginning Thursday and running through Sunday.
Zach Johnson will look to defend his 2015 title against an impressive field that includes World No. 1 Jason Day, Masters champion Danny Willett, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson.
Coming off back-to-back victories at the U.S. Open and the WGC-Bridgestone, second-ranked Johnson is grouped with Martin Kaymer and Russell Knox. Defending champion Zach Johnson will play with Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson.
This year’s tournament takes place at the historic Royal Troon Club in Scotland.
Here are five fast facts to know about Royal Troon:
1. Troon Started With Just Five Holes in 1878
With over 130 years of history, Royal Troon is one of the oldest golf clubs in the world. The club was founded by 24 local golf enthusiasts in 1878, and featured just five holes.
Seven years later in 1885 it became an 18 hole course. In its current state, the Club is home to 45 holes: 18 on the Championship course, 18 on the Portland course and a nine hole par three course.
Charlie Hunter laid out the original five-hole course design. At the time, Hunter was superintendent at nearby Prestwick, and served an apprenticeship under Old Tom Morris.
The construction of the 18 hole course is credited to Troon’s first professional, George Strath. The expansion was completed in 1884 and formed much of the layout played today.
Willie Fernie, Open Champion of 1883 became Troon’s professional in 1887. Fernie is responsible for two of the most well-known, and difficult holes: the Postage Stamp and Railway, which did not exist in their current state until 1909.
Troon Golf Club was awarded “Royal” status in 1978 to celebrate its centennial and has since been known as Royal Troon Golf Club.
2. The Course Features a Number of Iconic Holes
Royal Troon’s most famous hole is the par-3 8th, and has been nicknamed the “Postage Stamp.”
At 123 yards, it is the shortest hole on the Open rota and has caused a broad spectrum of feelings throughout the years, from grief to excitement. In the first round of 1973, Scotland’s David Russell became the youngest player to make a hole-in-one in the Open at the eight hole. In the last Open hosted at Troon in 2004, Ernie Els scored a 1 at the Postage Stamp. Another memorable moment was when Tiger Woods took a triple-bogey 6 at the eighth hole in 1997’s final round. The worst performance, however, was by a German amateur named Hermann Tissies, who shot a 15 on the hole in 1950.
The hole was originally named ‘Ailsa’ because of the view of the rocky island Ailsa Craig, which can be seen from the tee box. It became known as the Postage Stamp in 1922 when Scottish golfer Willie Park described the green as “a pitching surface skimmed down to the size of a postage stamp,” in a Golf Illustrated article.
In contrast, the eleventh hole stretches 601 yards along the coast and is known as the “Railway.” Named after the railway line which runs alongside it, the eleventh hole was rated the most difficult hole in the 1997 Open Championship.
3. The Last Six Opens at Troon Have Been Won by Americans
Americans have a strong record at Troon– winning the last six Open Championships hosted there.
Here’s the list of U.S. golfers who took the Open title in recent history:
Arnold Palmer (1962)
Tom Weiskopf (1973)
Tom Watson (1982)
Mark Calcavecchia (1989)
Justin Leonard (1997)
Todd Hamilton (2004)
Additionally, there have been three straight first-time American winners at Royal Troon: Mark Calcavecchia, Justin Leonard and Todd Hamilton.
4. It Ranks Sixth in Most Opens Hosted
The first Open Championship held at Royal Troon took place nearly 100 years ago in 1923. Of the Open courses that are still used, Royal Troon comes in tied at sixth for hosting the most alongside Royal Birkdale–both at nine. Troon comes behind St. Andrews (29), Prestwick (24), Muirfield (16), Royal St. George’s (14), Royal Liverpool (12) and Royal Lytham St. Annes (11).
Here’s a look at the past Open Champions at Royal Troon:
1923: Arthur Havers
1950: Bobby Locke
1962: Arnold Palmer
1973: Tom Weiskopf
1982: Tom Watson
1989: Mark Calcavecchia
1997: Justin Leonard
2004: Todd Hamilton
5. Troon Membership Recently Decided to Admit Women Into the Club
The British Open rota now only features courses that allow female members.
Muirfield, the site of 16 British Opens, was removed from the British Open rotation earlier this year after its membership voted against female members being allowed at the club.
The R&A responded with a statement regarding Muirfield’s decision– explaining that the organization would no longer hold Opens at courses that were not inclusive to women.
“The Open is one of the world’s great sporting events and going forward we will not stage the Championship at a venue that does not admit women as members,” stated the R&A.
That left Royal Troon as the only one in the tournament’s rotation that did not allow female members, until July 1 when members of Royal Troon Golf Club voted overwhelmingly to end the club’s male-only membership policy. The decision allows the club to remain an Open venue.
“I think this means that Royal Troon Golf Club is reflecting the society in which we exist in the 21st century,” Martin Cheyne, the club’s captain and top official told the New York Times. “We are not insular, and I’m proud to say that we have made this decision.”
The R&A also commended the club’s choice on Twitter:
“We welcome the decision by Royal Troon to admit women as members and look forward to The 145th Open and many great Championships to come.”