Having just returned from a 5 day trip to the 144th Open held at St Andrews thought I would base my blog on my experiences of spectating at the Open, outside the ropes a which is totally different from playing inside the ropes, in fact it is much harder work!
As a former Ladies European Tour player and now coach I have an understanding and appreciation from both the degree of preparation which goes into such an event and the precision required to achieve the ultimate victory. The course mapping and planning is imperative with player, coach and caddy all working together as Fowler and Harmon demonstrate.
As a result I would recommend anyone spectating at the Open to attend at least two of the practice rounds, when playing a links course it is important when preparing to play a morning and afternoon time to hopefully experience varying conditions. At the Open the start times are posted around the course and in the tented village but bear in mind sometimes player’s may change their mind! This is the perfect opportunity to take those cherished photos especially at St Andrews where there are views you will never get bored of looking. All photography is banned for the Tournament days although there are some who will take the risk of incurring the wrath of the Marshall.
I managed to find a seat behind the famous 17th Road hole 2 hours prior to the commencement of the Champion Golfer’s Challenge which looked directly up the 18th hole so I was constantly inspired by the R&A Home of golf clubhouse and Swilken bridge. The special 4 hole challenge was iconic and a real treat to see the “King” Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Gary Player amongst 28 past Open Champions all playing for their chosen charity.
If you are looking for a restful week then I can’t guarantee this, to give you an indication one of the quieter days I registered 16,837 steps which is roughly 4 miles! so please wear comfortable shoes not your brand new golf shoes.
Player planning is essential as I found out, I always seemed to be on the wrong side of the fairway and by the time I was able to use one of the two course crossings I had missed their approach shots and subsequent holes. The course set up at St Andrews calls for spectators to walk around the perimeter of the famous links which certainly clocks up the miles.
The alarm clock was on overdrive for the week as 5.30am was a regular occurrence to ensure a nice and easy drive to the pre-paid car park which is a must. I believe the crowd figures from Sunday until Thursday were already up to 76,000 according to Peter Alliss.
I had an amazing and memorable visit to the 144th Open with Tom Watsons final walk up the 18th of the Open something very special to behold for every golfer. I am really looking forward to watching the final two rounds in the company of my very good friend and former Ladies European Tour player colleague Maureen Madill an excellent BBC Open commentator of 20 years.
Who fancies this tee shot on the 17th hole come Sunday and will it be instrumental in the outcome of the 144th Open?