The Frat House: Tacos, baseball, film nights - and a combined nine under par
Published 15/07/2016 | 02:30
Millionaires are not an uncommon sight in Troon, even when the golf is not on. The town grew rich off its harbour and railway in the 19th century, bringing with them a wealthy business class escaping the big smoke of Glasgow.
And you do not have to walk far from the course to spy some of the lordly piles they built for themselves: the towering colonial roofs, the imposing bay windows, the never-ending driveways.
A few years back, Britain's biggest lottery winners bought a magnificent £3m estate that Tiger Woods rented out for the 2004 Open. Yes, Troon certainly has its share of well-heeled residents. But six in one building?
The exact location of the Frat House is a closely guarded secret - "I can't give away too much," pleaded Rickie Fowler when pressed for details. But anybody in the immediate vicinity may have been made peripherally aware of its presence: perhaps the novel whiff of chicken and cheese quesadillas wafting over the fence, or the unfamiliar sound of an impromptu garden baseball game.
Even so, you would surely conclude that it was simply a bunch of kids on holiday. You would scarcely guess that its residents had five Major championships between them, and might produce a sixth this weekend.
After strolling in from his round of 67, Justin Thomas offered a few more details about the house he is sharing with Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner and Jimmy Walker.
"Yeah, it's a little frat house we have this week," he said. "We've been having movie nights. The Other Guys. The Equalizer. Tommy Boy. Just your typical guy movies."
It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood teen film: six guys renting a Scottish mansion for the summer, and having the time of their lives. Apart from the regular movie nights, the sextet have had their own chef flown over to cook traditional American standards like quesadillas, beef tacos, steak and salad.
"He's saved us, for sure," Thomas joked. "Typical Americans, we want to stick with what we know and not try anything."
Then there was the backyard baseball game. Fowler, a baseball obsessive, travels everywhere with a couple of mitts, and so after finding some stray tennis balls in the garden and fashioning a makeshift bat, they spent the entire afternoon playing.
"We were probably out there for three hours," Thomas said. "We were like little kids again." Of course, in the case of Spieth, this is close to being literally true.
By all accounts, the arrangement has been working well. "It's enjoyable," said Fowler after his round of 69. "Having a nap, having a chef, having breakfast and dinner at the house, it's nice to have a sense of normalcy, not being a hotel room."
Perhaps success breeds success. The six of them finished a combined nine under par yesterday.
On the first night in the house, hours before he had to hand the Claret Jug back to the R&A, Johnson and Thomas had filled it with wine and taken a ceremonial glug. The pair now sit in a tie for fourth place.
And maybe the real lesson to be drawn is to shatter one of the myths of elite golf: that it is a solitary pursuit. In many ways, it is one of the most sociable sports around, the firm friendships the players have forged on tour will only deepen this week.
Indeed, the word is that although Spieth was the first to arrive at the house last weekend, he allowed Johnson the first choice of rooms on account of his champion status, and Fowler second because he had organised the rental. Even millionaire superstars, it seems, have a little humility.