There was a sense of hustle in front of the clubhouse at Royal St George’s Golf Club this afternoon, and it was hustle of exceptional ability. Robert Allenby caught up with Brian Davis as the golfers emptied their car boots at one end, and Angel Cabrera walked by carrying his golf bag – always a
strange sight when you see a Tour golfer carrying his own bag.

Today has been ‘Arrivals Day‘ at the Open Championship. By the end of the afternoon the great, the good and a few more fortunate, were all here at Royal St. George’s in Kent – with the exception of Tiger and Monty admittedly.

As Bernhard Langer marched slowly, methodically into the clubhouse, Bubba Watson stood on a corner of lawn chatting to his caddie. Bearing in mind Bubba loves everything about European golf apart from where it is played, the food that is served, the galleries that watch, and those strange foreign accents, the American Ryder Cupper was looking remarkably relaxed. Wait until Watson gets one of those famous St George’s fairway bounces and sees his ball dive into the forbidding depths of a pot bunker – his love affair with European golf will be sealed.

Then there was a mild commotion in front of the main door to the clubhouse – which is about as grand as the entrance to a village school – as a sleek, black Mercedes-Benz drew up, and out climbed the defending champ, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, clutching the silver Claret Jug, glinting proudly in the bright afternoon sun. Oosthuizen was greeted by R&A chief executive Peter Dawson, and 12 months after he sailed to a seven-shot triumph at St Andrews, the Claret Jug was returned to its guardian for the week. “We would just like to borrow it for the weekend,” smiled Dawson.

Like many South Africans before him, Oosthuizen is a golfer whose travels take him right around the world each year, and the Claret Jug has been his regular companion since July 2010. Of all the stops on the Claret Jug’s world tour, the one Oosthuizen cherishes most was when he took golf’s most
iconic prize to the course where he grew up, Albertinia Golf Club, near Mossel Bay on South Africa’s Western Cape, in the shadows of the Langeberg mountains.

“It is a nine-hole course and its greens are made from sand and oil,” explains Oosthuizen. “It only has 42 or 43 members – just a few farmers and locals, so to take the Claret Jug back there – where golf began for me – was very special.”

Speaking exclusively to Golf Monthly, Oosthuizen later confirmed that he is the course-record holder at Albertinia, as one would expect: 66, six under par, which is no lower “because the ‘browns’ are the smallest you have ever seen!”

Oosthuizen can look forward to finding more room on the curvaceous greens of Royal St George’s, although he might not find them any easier.

Article courtesy of Mercedes-Benz, patron of the Open Championship.