The Open Championship might not start until Thursday but for the town of St Andrews, the event is well and truly under way. Players, caddies, marshals, spectators, media – you name it, they are all here transforming this coastal town into a sea of white tents, shiney black courtesy cars and vast but empty yellow scoreboards.
There are two reasons why the Open at St Andrews is a uniquely special occasion coming as it does smack bang in the middle of a tournament schedule filled with impressive events. The first is obviously the golf course and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you all about it. So I’ll move on to the second one – the town. St Andrews is essentially made up of three roads, North Street, Market Street and South Street. These lie within two minutes walk of the 18th green meaning that anyone staying in town has no need to drive to any of the courses. Seeing people walking through the streets here with golf shoes on their feet and clubs strapped to their backs is not unusual. And for all those in attendance this week, the buzz created on the course during the day makes it’s way into the bars in the evening.
Last night, the Golf Monthly team (consisting of one – me…) decided to sample the off course atmosphere by watching the World Cup final in one of the many pubs in town. As is often the case, there was no shortage of caddies doing the same thing, including Tiger’s very own bag man Stevie Williams. Whether it was down to the football or the golf, I’m not sure but St Andrews was already buzzing.
The point of all this is that unlike some Open venues where all those in attendance disappear off to different towns at the end of the day, at St Andrews nobody leaves. Most of the players competing for the 150th Open Championship, are also staying in town so off course, they too mingle with the fans. Whether they like this or not, I’m not sure but for those of us with a watching brief, it brings us closer to tournament golf than anywhere else.