Golf’s third major of the year, the Open Championship, is played at different UK courses for four years out of five. Every fifth year, however, it returns to the ‘home of golf’ – the Old Course at St Andrews. St Andrews boasts seven courses with the Old Course, so named as it dates to before 1574, its most famous.
When we realised in early 2014 that the Open was returning ‘home’ in 2015, we immediately started making plans. Most important of course was knowing when tickets went on sale and we were duly online in November a few minutes before ticket sales opened to secure our tickets for the final day. Dyl and I had been to the 2012 Open at Royal Latham & St Annes, won by South African Ernie Els, but this was the ‘big guy’.
Flights and trains were duly booked as soon as we had our tickets, accommodation was arranged with friends just a few miles from the small village of Fife and we decided to add on a day’s leave with the plan being to play some golf ourselves on the Monday. We had no idea how important that decision would be!
With any links course, the weather plays a major role. You expect biting, blustery conditions and it’s not a question of it if blows and rains but how badly. This year it was bad – so bad in fact that play was suspended both on Friday and Saturday with virtually no golf possible on the Saturday. As a result, the Open would finish on a Monday for the first time since 1988.
While most people were justifiably mad as they were returning home on Sunday night or early Monday, we were smiling – we were now able not only to watch a full day’s golf on Sunday but to return on Monday for just £10!
Arriving in time for the first tee-off just after 8am on Sunday, armed with a mountain of food, we watched the first few groups go off and followed the Big Easy, Ernie Els, for a few holes. Various other groups were followed over the course of the day while we also watched from different stands across the course. Stands had been erected at various greens and tee boxes and sitting at certain stands we were able to see multiple greens, tee-boxes and fairways.
Once such stand was the seventh green and as we sat huddled eating our sandwiches in a chilly wind and sideways rain, we smiled – this is what the Open is about! Thankfully it was only a few drops here and there and we were able to enjoy a full day’s play.
After the long day we wearily made our way to the pub for a warming whiskey and a few beers. Whilst standing round the bar, we struck up a conversation with Ricky Roberts, Ernie’s caddy, discussing various sports stats and were soon best friends having been able to answer that Seve Ballesteros is the only player to win the Open on a Saturday, a Sunday and a Monday!!
(Seve won it in 1979, when majors were played from Thursday to Saturday, 1984, when it finished on the now traditional Sunday, and in 1988, the last time it ended on a Monday).
Jason and Dyl played a quick round of golf first thing Monday morning before we made our way back to St Andrews for the final round. We still couldn’t believe our luck in paying just £10 to see the final round of the Open. South African Louis Oosthuizen was tied for the lead overnight and so we followed him for most of the day. He had an incredible day and after 72 holes, was still tied for the lead and so our incredible £10 day continued with four play-off holes. Unfortunately Louis would lose the playoff with Justin Day winning his first major. Louis had won at the Open in 2010 and we were gutted this wasn’t to be number two.
Nevertheless, it had been an amazing two days of golf and a wonderful weekend at the Home of Golf in St Andrews.