Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - hole 11
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Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - hole 11
The 11th hole on the Old Course at Royal Troon Golf Club, called "The Railway," looks spectacular when the gorse blooms. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - hole 12
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Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - hole 12
The par-4 12th hole on the Old Course at Royal Troon Golf Club doglegs slightly to the right. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - gorse
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Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - gorse
Gorse is one of the major hazards on the Old Course at Royal Troon Golf Club in South Ayrshire, Scotland. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - hole 8
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Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - hole 8
The "Postage Stamp" green on the 123-yard eighth hole of the Old Course at Royal Troon Golf Club is one of the smallest in major championship golf. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - hole 7
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Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - hole 7
The par-4 seventh hole on the Old Course at Royal Troon Golf Club snakes through the dunes and gorse. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - hole 6
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Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - hole 6
Big dunes line the left side of the fairway of the long par-5 sixth hole on the Old Course at Royal Troon Golf Club in South Ayrshire, Scotland. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - hole 18
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Royal Troon Golf Club - Old Course - hole 18
The clubhouse of Royal Troon Golf Club frames the 18th hole of the Old Course. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Marine Hotel Troon
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Marine Hotel Troon
The Marine Hotel Troon lines the 18th fairway of the Old Course at Royal Troon Golf Club in South Ayrshire, Scotland. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
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Beware the gorse -- of course -- on the Old Course at Royal Troon Golf Club in South Ayrshire

TROON, Ayrshire, Scotland -- It's a tale of two nines on the Old Course at Royal Troon Golf Club .

The opening nine holes -- the first six hug the shore -- gently ease into the round. It's the more demanding loop that returns to the clubhouse, where Open Championships are won and lost. When the wind blows off the Firth, there is no tougher closing championship test.

Royal Troon, a 7,202-yard par-71 course dating to 1878, will host its ninth Open Championship in 2016. The "Postage Stamp" at no. 8 -- an iconic, pint-sized par 3 of 123 yards -- features maybe the smallest green in tournament golf.

Magnificent dunes and gorse are prominent mid-round, although the club has recently cut back some gorse on several holes. A minefield of gorse lines the par-4 11th hole, called "The Railway," where tracks run up the right side.

Staying patient and playing conservative tends to pay off at Royal Troon G.C. Just ask Todd Hamilton, the unlikely winner of the claret jug in 2004. His savvy play held off Ernie Els and changed his life forever.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Beware the gorse -- of course -- on the Old Course at Royal Troon Golf Club in South Ayrshire
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