Diaries at the ready... here are the golf dates you can't afford to miss in 2016

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2016 is set to be a year to remember for golf fans. As well as the usual four majors, we've got the Ryder Cup 2016 to look forward to, and the little matter of the 2016 Olympics being the first to feature golf since 1904. To ensure you don't miss any of the action, make sure you've got these dates in your diary...

The Masters, 7th-10th April

augusta-13th-hole

Where? 

As if you need to ask. Augusta National, Georgia. 

Yardage?

7,435 yards.

Par? 

72.

Defending champion?

Jordan Spieth. 

Key to success?

Putting. Spieth had a record 28 birdies on his way to victory last year, taking took just 25 putts in both his first-round 64 and second-round 66. 

US Open, 16th-19th June

oakmont-golf

Where? 

Oakmont Country Club, Pennsylvania. Oakmont is most famous as the site of Jack Nicklaus' first major win in 1962, but the course is very different nowadays, with extremely firm and slick greens. "I once tried to mark my ball on one of Oakmont's greens, but the coin slid off," joked Sam Snead. 

Yardage?

7,230

Par? 

70

Defending champion? 

Jordan Spieth. The then-21-year-old Texan edged out Dustin Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen to become the youngest golfer ever to hold the first two legs of a grand slam. 

Key to success?

Patience. The average score the last time the US Open visited Oakmont was 75.72, with every hole averaging an over-par score. Angel Cabrera came out on top, with a total of +5. Lee Trevino once said, "Every time I two-putt one of these greens, I know I'm passing people."

The Open, 14th-17th July

royal-troon-golf

Where?

Royal Troon Golf Club, Ayrshire. It will be the ninth time Troon has hosted The Open, but the first since 2004. Architect Martin Ebert has made lots of tweaks since then, including new tees, greens and bunkers. The famous Postage Stamp remains intact. "It's my favourite hole in golf," says Colin Montgomerie. "I've hit the ball to an inch, but I've also had sevens and eights."

Yardage?

7,208 yards.

Par? 

71.

Defending champion?

Zach Johnson. The American beat Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman in a four-hole playoff at St Andrews to bag his second major. 

Key to success?

Creativity. Troon has typically rewarded shot-makers over pure bombers, as evidenced by Todd Hamilton's victory in 2004. Hamilton, a notoriously short hitter, used his hybrid to chip as he recorded a huge upset, beating Ernie Els in a four-hole playoff. 

PGA Championship, 28th-31st July

baltusrol-golf

Where? 

Baltusrol Golf Club, New Jersey. The course has hosted the US Open seven times, but not since 1993. It last hosted a major in 2005, with Phil Mickelson emerging victorious in the PGA Championship after birdieing the final hole to win by a shot. 

Yardage?

7,462 yards.  

Par? 

70.

Defending champion?

Jason Day. The long-time 'nearly man' held off the challenge of Jordan Spieth to win his first major.

Key to success? 

Power. The two closing holes are both par 5s, and can have a big influence on the outcome of the tournament. The 17th is a whopping 650 yards. There are two par 4s on the front nine that are over 500 yards, and the par 3s are all over 200 yards. There's room off the tee on most holes, so driving accuracy is less of a concern. 

2016 Olympics, 11th-14th August

olympic-golf-course

Where?

The Gil Hanse-designed course hasn't been named yet. It's at the Reserva de Marapendi in Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro. 

Yardage?

7,350 yards. 

Par? 

71. 

Defending champion?

Canada's George Lyon. Sadly, he died in 1938, so won't be defending his crown. You'd get decent odds on a Canadian gold medal in 2016. 

Key to success?

Bottle. Whilst several high-profile players have voiced their disinterest in Olympic golf, we fully expect it to be a different story by the time the event rolls round. As Olympic tennis has shown, passions run high when gold medals and national pride are on the line. That pressure, combined with a tough closing stretch, is a perfect recipe for drama. "I especially like the challenge of the final holes coming in," says co-designer Amy Alcott. "I think people will love the 16th hole; it's a real risk and reward hole. We've created something very special down the stretch."

Ryder Cup 2016, 30th September-2nd October

hazeltine-golf

Where?

Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. Designed by Robert Jones in 1962 and remodeled by his son, Rees Jones, in 1987, Hazeltine National hosted the US Open in 1970 and 1991, the 1983 US Senior Open, and the 1966 and 1977 US Women's Open. 

Yardage?

7,360 yards. 

Par? 

72. 

Defending champion? 

Europe, having won the last three Ryder Cups, including 2014's 16.5-11.5 demolition. 

Key to success?

A myriad of factors will determine whether Europe record an unprecedented (in the modern era) fourth straight victory or Team USA can turn things around, but one key factor will be captaincy. While Paul McGinley did everything right in his preparation for the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, Tom Watson's Team USA fell apart in spectacular fashion. The Americans have since created a special 'taskforce' to make sure they're fully prepared for future Ryder Cups, which sounds very fancy indeed. 

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