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