The Open 2015

Every five years the Open returns to St. Andrews, the home of golf. This is the year! Yes, our town of St. Andrews will be filled to the brim with “outsiders”, but they are welcome because they love golf and its home. They all have a passion for the game and just happy to be there, on one of the most beautiful courses and towns in the world of golf This is the 144th Open, and as usual there will be special moments. For instance, this will be the last year Nick Faldo plays, beginning his official retirement. On Wednesday night, the past winners of the Open have their special dinner hosted this year by Rory McIlroy, the 2014 winner. Photos are taken outside the R&A clubhouse, so it’s a good time to sneak a peak at some of the greats of the sport.

This year, the tournament begins on Thursday, July 16-19, but I’ll definitely be there on the course Wednesday for the practice rounds. It’s a chance to get up close and personal with the golfers, to see them practice, figuring out the best way to approach each green. They’ll take multiple shots, talk with each other and their caddies, and even with the crowd. But they are there for business (even though they thoroughly enjoy it), so people tend not to talk with them while they’re preparing to be THE winner. Who will that be?

JimFurykJustinLeonardThe course closes for about two months before the Championship so they can begin building the viewing stands on the further out holes. Then generally at least 3 other courses are closed to prepare them for parking all of the visitors’ cars that will stream in. 200,000 visitors are anticipated. The Jubilee and New Course, both opened up at the beginning of the twentieth century, are given over to practice putting and driving ranges. Meanwhile, the army of greenskeepers are perfecting the course, manicure the greens, set up the pro’s tees, and then in the dead of night during the competition, place the holes in different locations. Watering is done then if necessary, too.

DSC_0070The two weeks before the Open are hectic with trucks bringing in all the parts to build the great white tents which will be headquarters for the many corporate sponsors, shops, and of course, restaurants. It always looks like they won’t be ready on time, but in the end it all comes together beautifully. That’s due to the great professional planning involved.

2015 is the Scottish Year of Food, and as part of the year-long event, the Open is helping to celebrate by selecting 20 Scottish producers to supply this year’s Championship. More than 10,000 people will enjoy all day hospitality packages at The Open. Twelve tons of locally-sourced fresh fruit and vegetables will be used and 12,000 portions of fish and chips will be consumed over the week in restaurant tents. Others spectators will bring their own sandwiches and drinks, or buy food at one of the more basic food stands — and the longest lines will probably be at the beer stands! In the midst of the food and shop areas is a giant screen TV, so people can continue watching the action while munching or drinking.

DSC_0001The Old Course is unusual because it stands at the edge of town. On two sides it is bounded by buildings, both private and commercial, on another side by two other Links Golf Courses and the sea, and the final border is on the Eden Estuary. Numerous paths wend their way through the course, but being relatively flat it can sometimes be difficult to get a good view of the action. Some people stake out their space along the ropes, and stay there all day; others follow a favorite player, and some just keep trying to fine a good vantage point. Golf spectators are generally well behaved, though, and while they may be avid and single minded in their viewing, they’re not territorial! The first year I was there I wondered why some people were carrying sturdy crates, then saw why. The viewer use them to stand on to get a better view.

No matter how much you argue with gate guards once the Championship officially begins, cameras and cell phones will be banned, though the Open provides lock-ups where people can leave their valued items.

Then, on Monday, July 20, the course will be open again for play, and lots of the regulars on the course, and visitors from far and wide, will try playing off the pro tees, just for the fun of it (depending on how much they value their score).

The official site for the Open and purchasing tickets is http://www.theopen.com/

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