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The logistics of running an Open are pretty mind-boggling as I discovered when I took a sneaky look behind the scenes. The host course has to be turned into a village/small town capable of servicing the needs of up to 50,000 people a day. I spent a cold, wet, windy Monday morning of Open week in the company of R&A director of Championships, David Hill, and his four able assistants ? Robin Bell, Rhodri Price, Johnnie Cole-Hamilton and Michael Wells.
Here?s a snapshot of what I learned from the experience.
* Some sort of ?masterplan? for each venue is already in place several years in advance, even before the venue is officially announced.
* The number of spectator car parking spaces varies from venue to venue and depends how good the public transport alternatives are - very good at Carnoustie as the station is just a short walk from the course.
* Rhodri oversees all qualifying events for The Open travelling to Africa, Australia, Asia and the States throughout the first few months of the year.
* Mobile phones are banned at the venue this year, and the screening at the paygates works, easily detecting mine in a dummy run. So leave your phone at home!
* There are 23,000 gleaming balls in use on the practice ground comprising 15 different models from six brands ? Titleist, Callaway, Nike, Srixon, TaylorMade and Bridgestone ? all of which have to be sorted manually. A bit of a headache for practice ground manager, Mike Collins, and his team.
* Lexus courtesy cars are very warm and comfortable! I managed to cadge a lift back from the practice ground in the company of Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly - neither of whom recognised me and both of whom were trying to cope as stoically as possible with the grim weather.
* The grandstands start being put up during the third week of April with construction finishing a week or so before the event.
* Carnoustie is the only Open venue where one of the grandstands straddles a burn ? on the 18th hole
* There are around 900 marshals on duty during Open week with 350 on shift at any one time ? all recruited from local clubs. This year they are wearing a fairly vibrant blue which you definitely won?t miss.
* 28 metric tonnes of chips were cooked at Hoylake last year and 1300 barrels of beer were downed ? equivalent to about 90,000 pints
Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
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