The 36-hole Open - Is there still a place for it?

The 36-hole Open: Fergus Bisset and Jeremy Ellwood debate whether clubs and golfers still have the appetite to host and play a two-round comp in a single day.

36-Hole Open
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

The 36-hole Open - Is there still a place for it?


Says Fergus Bisset

The 36-hole Open... Unfortunately, in recent years, many clubs across the country have decided there is no longer a place for one on their fixture list. 

They surmise people haven’t the time or inclination to play two rounds. 

I think that’s a great shame and I believe there are still more than enough gritty, competitive golfers out there to justify its annual inclusion.

The 36-hole Open should, in fact, be one of the most prestigious events on the club calendar. Attracting the best golfers from the surrounding area, the 36 is about as demanding as club-level amateur golf gets. 

Those who come out on top after a day’s battle on the fairways deserve the plaudits and the weighty vouchers that go along with their success.

Winners of the two-rounder go down in a club’s history. 

Names go on the board and performances are remembered years later. 

36-hole Opens often count towards a county or region’s order of merit, further enhancing its value to the club. The event may even earn a few lines in the local press.

The 36-holer is also a great chance for a club to showcase its on and off-course offering. 

To show players from elsewhere how good the playing surfaces are, how welcoming the clubhouse is and how fine the lunches are. 

If they’re impressed, the information will feed back to members at their home clubs, hopefully encouraging others to visit.

For me, the 36-hole Open delivers the perfect golfing day. 

It offers a thorough test of physical and mental golfing fortitude, it affords two chances to post a good medal score and it’s a great way to spend a full day with like-minded golfers, enjoying great camaraderie and building friendships. 

The 36-hole Open should remain firmly on the fixture list of every club that hosts one.

Related: 15 of the best 36-hole Golf Clubs in the UK&I

36-Hole Open

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

The 36-hole Open - Is there still a place for it?


says Jeremy Ellwood

Ah, the 36-hole Men’s Open – happy memories of great days out for an inexpensive entry fee at a host of courses in my home and bordering counties throughout the 1990s. 

A couple of friends and I even built our own ‘tour schedule’ around them at one stage, and from the faces we saw time and time again, so too did many others.

But memories are all they are now. 

I can’t recall the last one I entered and it’s many years since they were last a regular fixture in my diary. 

Sadly, I know that probably 60-70 per cent of those events no longer exist in their 36-hole format. 

Some don’t exist at all; others are now just 18 holes; and others still have changed format in some other way.

Why? Well, for me, work, family and priorities all changed and they gradually fell off my radar. 

But the fact that many of them no longer exist suggests that many of my fellow competitors from the ‘90s experienced the same changes in life dynamics and we haven't been replaced by the next generation. 

Add in that we’re all now in our 50s or beyond, rather than our 30s, and the desire to traipse 10+ miles around sometimes hilly courses has been blunted somewhat by the advancing years.

I also know that many saw them as an extremely cost-effective way to play other courses back in the day, and with the advent of reduced green fee options at more courses over the past couple of decades, that ‘cheap day out’ element has become a little less important. 

Inexpensive golf is more readily available than it once was and the big 36-hole day out has perhaps lost some of its appeal as a result.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?