Tomorrow (Thursday, July 14) sees the start of The Open (note there is no need for the word British to be inserted before Open). It’s one of the four most prestigious golf tournaments in the world and this will be the 145th competition.
This year’s four-day event is being held at Royal Troon in Ayrshire, Scotland. After the first two days, the field is cut with only the top half ‘making the cut’ and playing over the weekend.
We have made the trip to whichever links course is hosting the event most years over the past decade and have developed a system which works on every course, and ensures you not only see all the holes, but also most of the players while ending up in the best seats to watch the presentation of the Claret Jug to the winner. So, if you fancy attending The Open, either this year or in future years, I will share our system with you.
Unless you have plenty of time I’m assuming you only want to attend the two main days, so this is based on maximising your golf viewing on Saturday and Sunday.
There is no need to buy tickets in advance as they are always available on the day, although there is a discount if bought in advance via the R&A website. This year’s tickets cost £80 per day for both Saturdays and Sundays (£60 if bought before May 31). This might sound a lot but you can see about 10-12 hours of golf per day, so it amounts to between £5 to £8 per hour, which I think is reasonable value, and comparable to most major sporting events or concerts.
There are numerous park and ride schemes available which can slow your entrance and exit but means you can carry extra wet weather gear and decide what you need at the venue. Make sure you pack binoculars and a small radio so you can listen to the action around the course regardless of which hole you happen to be watching.
Once you are on the course, I suggest you spend the Saturday walking to every hole, watching whoever you happen to come across on your journey. While you are walking around look for the best vantage points – possibly somewhere you can see two greens, or a green and a tee or a tricky part of the course which might produce some drama. You should also take a look at the grandstands surrounding the 18th green. Take note which ones are reserved for corporate or members, which ones are in the sun, which ones give the best views, if any also provide a view of the first tee, or using binoculars enable you to see a couple of other holes or tees, as these might be the holes used in the event of a play-off etc.
On Sunday I suggest you spend the morning at your chosen vantage point or points. Then get something to eat and at around noon or 1pm get a seat in the area of your chosen grandstand. The timing of this depends on how big the stands are and how quickly they start to fill up. Once you are in situ, you will be able to watch most, if not all, of the players, play the 18th. This lets you compare their different styles and appreciate the really great shots. You will also see the eventual winner make that emotional walk onto the green, or see the winning putt, and you will be ideally placed to watch the presentation and listen to the winner’s acceptance speech.
Clearly, this is just our system, but I believe it enables you to maximise your experience at the event, regardless of the course.
If it’s too late for you to make the journey to Troon this year, then the venues until 2020 have already been decided. (Every fifth year is at St Andrews, Scotland). The venues are:
2017 Royal Birkdale, Southport, England
2018 Carnoustie, Scotland
2019 Royal Portrush, Ireland
2020 St Andrews, Scotland
The Barefoot Bohemian.