The 79th Open | 1950 Troon

The year the Postage Stamp wreaked havoc

The Postage Stamp is one of the most famous holes in golf, and has caused plenty of trouble for the world's best at The Open for almost a century.

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But perhaps never in Troon's 99-year history of hosting Open Championships has the par-3 eighth hole wreaked so much havoc, nor had so much impact, as it did during The 79th Open in 1950. And it all began before the Championship proper had even got underway.

Tissies' unfortunate score

There have been plenty of big numbers at the Postage Stamp over the years, with Steven Bottomley famously taking 17 strokes on the hole over his first two rounds in 1997. But no player has ever recorded such a large score on the eighth during an Open Championship round as the German amateur Hermann Tissies did in 1950. 

Attempting to qualify for the Championship at Troon, and having already made news as the first German to enter the Championship since 1939, the 6' 6" tall businessman Tissies had put himself in good position after his first seven holes. But then, disaster struck.  

The German and Austrian amateur champion of 1949 found a bunker off the tee, and a number of swings later, holed out for a painful 15, on his way to a total of 92 in his first round of qualifying. Amazingly, 12 of Tissies' 15 strokes were from the sand.

The 39-year-old Hamburg native said of his escapades: "Many bunkers I am in, and many shots I play. I don't know how I do it, but I don't give up." 

Tissies' performance was bluntly described at the time in The Scotsman as 'a horrible species of ping pong between bunkers'. But time has proven that even the very best amateur and professional players can easily fall foul of the notorious Postage Stamp. One such star, however, would get the best and worst of the hole. 

De Vicenzo's historic change

Roberto De Vicenzo played a fine Championship in 1950, and recorded one of the more remarkable scores in memory during the third round. The 26-year-old Argentinian incredibly visited 10 bunkers in his first nine holes, but needed just one putt on 13 of his holes in signing for an astonishing 68. 

This 68 put De Vicenzo in a tie for the lead ahead of the final round of the Championship, alongside Welshman Dai Rees and the defending Champion, South African Bobby Locke. A key moment for De Vicenzo then came in another bunker, when he reached the eighth hole in the final round. 

The Argentinian found sand off the tee, and walked up to his ball to see he was in a dreadful position. Plugged, and no doubt wanting to avoid even half of Tissies' trouble on the Postage Stamp earlier in the week, De Vicenzo decided to declare an unplayable and head back to the tee.  

In 1950, the rules of golf determined that this would not incur a stroke penalty, therefore enabling De Vicenzo to play his second shot from the teeing ground. He struck a beauty, and holed the ensuing short putt to make a superb three on the hole.

The ruling, enabling De Vicenzo to go back to the tee essentially free of charge, was subsequently changed, and players could only choose such an option in future while incurring a stroke penalty, or taking a stroke and distance penalty from the spot of the ball.

Still, despite his unorthodox par save on the eighth, De Vicenzo eventually succumbed to the issues he had during the Championship in finding greens, and an imperious Locke proved triumphant by two strokes from the Argentinian, claiming his second successive Open title.

The Postage Stamp, and the difficulty of the bunkering, had a large part to play in Tissies' unfortunate record, a significant rule change in the game of golf, and indeed the outcome of The 76th Open in 1950. All that, on the shortest hole in Open Championship golf.