Driving up to The Open this year on the M6 I availed myself of the impressive DVD facilities in the back of editor Mike Harris’s substantial Volvo to watch an R&A film called ‘The Spirit of the Game’ reflecting on 150years of Open history.
Among all the incredible nostalgia, the moment that stood out most for me was Jack Nicklaus playing his final ever hole in The Open on Friday afternoon in 2005, decked out in a classy white shirt/red slipover combo.
I remember it vividly because I followed his group for the last few holes, where he still had half a chance of making the cut if he could have holed a couple of putts. It wasn’t to be, but both Nicklaus and playing partner Tom Watson – a mere youngster at just 55 – were constantly outdriving the group’s third member, Luke Donald. Mixed memories for the Englishman; getting a front row seat on such an occasion, but being outdriven by a pensioner and a veteran – though to be fair I couldn’t always see what clubs they were each using off the tee.
When we reached the 18th the combined forces of the press were meant to relinquish their ‘inside the ropes’ status upon reaching Granny Clark’s Wynd but in a brazen mass trespass everyone pressed on regardless up to somewhere near the green to watch the final moments of The Golden Bear’s 43 year Open career unfold.
And how did it end? With a curling 15-footer for birdie of course. Pure nostalgic magic.