[PHOTO: Carlos Amoedo]

Royal Troon might not be the prettiest Open venue, and it might not rank among the best architectural layouts in the Open rota. But Troon delivers. The last time we saw the seaside links, Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson had a duel for the ages.

The below video, narrated by Iona Stephen, will reacquaint you with Royal Troon, which sits 35 miles southwest of Glasgow on a rugged curve of coastline along the Firth of Clyde and the Isle of Arran. As Stephen puts it, Royal Troon can be divided into three acts: the first six holes, like heaven, with shorter par 4s laid out along the links’ flattest terrain. The middle six holes, like purgatory, as Troon gets into its most dramatic topography, and then the final six holes, hell, as players are often fighting the wind off the coast to finish the rounds.

Royal Troon, mostly finished by 1883 Open champion Willie Fernie, who became the club pro at Troon for more than 30 years, rose dramatically on our new ranking of the World’s 100 Greatest courses, moving up 25 spots to 28th on our list. That would place it eighth among Open rota venues (counting Trump Turnberry down the road), so like we said, not quite at the top but still one of the top-ranked layouts in the world.

Most are familiar with Royal Troon’s Postage Stamp par-3 eighth, but don’t sleep on the par-4 11th hole [below], Railway, with a rail line flanking the hole out of bounds to the left. With a blind shot requiring the proper angle into the green, it’s among the hardest and most interesting holes in Open golf.

Photo: David Cannon/R&A

We’ll cheer for wind during Open week, or else we might see record scoring at this historic links. It’ll be an interesting to see what kind of winner we get, too – before the Stenson vs Mickelson duel, we had three somewhat random Open winners here: Todd Hamilton (2004), Justin Leonard (1997) and Mark Calcavecchia (1989).