Golf Monthly's Joel Tadman headed the first tee to watch the first shot be hit by Colin Montgomerie at 6.35am... and enjoyed every second of it.
For the 2016 Open Championship at Troon, the Golf Monthly house is merely a well-struck driver from the first tee. So despite a late return to bed and an over indulgence in white wine, the opportunity to witness the first shot of this year’s tournament being struck was too good to miss.
Of course, Sky Sports were broadcasting this for the first time, but to see it in person soaking up the atmosphere of anticipation was exciting to me and not something I'd done before. It may have been an ungodly hour, but the fans were still out in their hundreds and in good spirits, filling up the grandstand to the side of the first tee and cheering loudly as the trio stepped into the arena.
The fact that the responsibility of striking the first blow fell on the shoulders of local fan favourite Colin Montgomerie made it all the more unmissable in my eyes.
The first group of Monty, Luke Donald and Mark Leishman couldn’t have asked for better weather for their 6.35am tee time. There was barely a cloud in the sky and just a breath of cooling wind on the player’s backs from the Ayrshire coast.
Monty’s long iron shot found the left semi rough and he, very much out of character for him, decided to play his approach shot despite clearly being distracted by someone on top of the 18th hole grandstand rustling a waterproof light cover. His ball found the pot bunker short left of the green and, totally in character, came the Monty burning stare of disgust that we know and love.
His luck didn’t improve on his next shot as his attempt to escape the sand failed miserably, his ball nearly striking his left shoulder on the way down back into the same bunker, right up against the face. After what felt like two minutes of deliberation with his caddie, he chopped it out sideways. He did, in fact, do very well to get up and down from there for a double bogey six. Meanwhile, Donald and Leishman both made birdies.
From then on, Monty was a different man. The man who played so well at Gailes Links a week or so back to qualify for this event. He found his rhythm and bounced back with five birdies on the rest of the front nine playing some wonderful approaches and more crucially, holing putts. Despite a hat trick of bogeys coming home, the veteran holed a 20 footer for par at the last for a level par round of 71, beating Donald by two and Leishman by three.
I may well be paying the price now for my decision but I’m glad I made the effort to see the first tee shot of the Open Championship. It’s not something many can claim to have done and I’ll always remember the picturesque setting – it truly was a magical experience that only true golf fans will appreciate.
Joel has worked in the golf industry for over 12 years covering both instruction and more recently equipment. He now oversees all product content here at Golf Monthly, managing a team of talented and passionate writers and presenters in delivering the most thorough and accurate reviews, buying advice, comparisons and deals to help the reader find exactly what they are looking for. So whether it's the latest driver, irons, putter or laser rangefinder, Joel has his finger on the pulse keeping up to date with the latest releases in golf.
During these enjoyable years he has had some money-can't-buy experiences, like interviewing Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy one-on-one and covering the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor.
One of his career highlights came when covering the 2012 Masters he got to play the sacred Augusta National course on the Monday after the tournament concluded, shooting a respectable 87 with just one par and four birdies. To date, his best ever round of golf is a 5-under 67 back in 2011. He currently plays his golf at Burghley Park Golf Club in Stamford, Lincs, with a handicap index of 4.7.
Joel's current What's In The Bag?
Driver: TaylorMade SIM2, 9°
Fairway wood: Titleist TSi3, 15°
Hybrid: Titleist TSi2, 18°
Irons: TaylorMade P770, 4-PW
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM8, 50°, 54° and 58°
Putter: Evnroll ER2V
Ball: 2021 Titleist Pro V1x
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