Appeared in January/February 1998 LINKS
The Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf-designed Monument Course at Troon North opened in the spring of 1990 with a then-astronomical green fee of $80. Troon Management’s philosophy was to create a “country club for a day” atmosphere. Besides the “fun stuff” such as metal bag tags, complimentary yardage books, 10-minute intervals between tee times and loads of hospitality, Troon North provides a first-class golf experience.
Even if you are not a fan of desert golf you have to be impressed by Morrish’s routing and the strategic subtleties of nearly every hole at Troon North, many of which were inspired by Weiskopf’s experience with Augusta National and the Old Course at St. Andrews. Weiskopf and Morrish clearly have studied the classic courses and understand how to create shots appealing to every level of player. Troon North’s Monument course is extremely difficult, but safer avenues of play are offered on every hole. The greens are difficult to read, yet reward well-struck shots, and several offer the option for a pitch-and-run approach.
After the relatively simple par-3 2nd hole, the player stands atop an elevated tee on the par-5 3rd and gazes down at one of the great strategic three-shotters in the world. “The Monument” is a dogleg right with desert closely guarding the length of the tee shot on the right. The large rock is surrounded by fairway about 250 yards from the tee, and just to the right of it is a modest sliver of fairway where only the bold dare to play their tee shot.
For those wanting to risk going for the green in two shots, the approach is one of the most appealing on the entire course. While most architects feel a need to guard the front of short par-5 greens with hazards, Morrish and Weiskopf opted to place a bunker 60 yards short of the green. Behind the bunker sits a gently banked downslope, requiring a precise approach landed just in front of the green to hold the green in two shots.
The layout then continues downhill toward the valley with two solid par 4s. The 6th begins the trek back uphill, with the now trademark Weiskopf and Morrish short par 4. The 6th is defined by three cross bunkers that require a carry of at least 240 yards, no easy task with the uphill nature of the drive. The reward for carrying the bunkers is full visibility of the green.
The back nine then moves into the most dramatic terrain on the property with the stunning par-5 11th, which doglegs right and is fronted by a sand wash. The short par-4 15th provides a generous landing area but the pin placement must be considered again from the tee. With the green gently sloping away, a poorly planned tee shot will result in more bogies than would be expected for a hole of 368 yards.
The 140-yard 16th provides a final breather before two difficult finishing par 4s. At 438 yards, Weiskopf and Morrish could easily have let the length and surrounding desert provide the drama on the 17th. Instead, they inserted a cross bunker that requires a long carry for the better players, and a very reasonable carry for the average man, resulting in a completely different look than the par-4 18th. A classic finishing hole, the 18th unfortunately finishes into the setting sun, but its hazards are well defined, and two crisply struck shots are demanded for par to be attained.
Troon North also has another 18, Pinnacle. An equally memorable and demanding layout, Pinnacle is just as exacting, although the hazards and greens are a bit more deceptive than Monument’s. It is certainly a refreshing alternative to Monument, but anyone visiting Troon North can’t help but be won over by either masterful design.
By: Geoff Shackelford