Behind the scenes at The Open

Jeremy Ellwood goes "back of house" at Carnoustie with R&A officials to find out what goes into making it all happen so smoothly

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
Contributing Editor

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 instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and 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 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response