My ‘Open’ Adventures

I have been fortunate to attend 3 Open Championships to date. My first back in 2001 at Lytham St Annes, my second at Carnoustie in 2007 and the last one being at Turnberry in 2009. I have also visited the other Open venues, barring Birkdale, to study or simply play golf.

prestwick

Playing golf at Prestwick…home of the 1st Open Championship

The Open is a ‘bucket list’ event – in other words a sporting event you must get too once in your life. You don’t need to pre-book your ticket  – you just arrive at the gates, pay the entry fee and join the tens of thousands roaming the fairway surrounds.

As a kid, growing up in South Africa, I dreamt of making the pilgrimage north to watch an Open live. I still recall sitting at the TV set watching Nick defeat John Cook at Muirfield or Price holing that mammoth putt on 17 at Turnberry. I was intrigued by the layouts and course conditions….it was like nothing I had seen before.

and so I arrive in the U.K at the turn of century…….

I remember jumping onto a greyhound bus at Victoria station and driving overnight to Blackpool. Blackpool is not a place I would typically visit unless I was attending someone’s stag party or had a longing for fish and chips. That year was different however ….this was the year the Open was being played at nearby Lytham and St Annes GC. The drive was far from pleasant but I was in ‘overdrive mode’ given that this would be my first Open. I really was an Open novice back then and this was amplified by the fact that I had not booked any accommodation before my arrival. Needless to say we spent hours roaming the town looking for something / anything where we could drop our bags and kip for a few nights. At one stage there was a very real possibility we would be sleeping on the beach but with a bit of luck we managed to find a room in a run down 2 star B&B….we will take it and don’t worry about breakfast!!! I must say I enjoyed the golf immensly…this was further vindicated by the fact that the Southern African triumphant (Price, Els and Goosen) were all within touching distance of the eventual winner David Duval.

I would enjoy my second Open venture, at Carnoustie, even more. I had never seen Carnoustie before but was most impressed by the Links. It is a wonderful test of golf with great variety not to mention the hardest closing stretch in golf. At that time, I was hosting clients from Madeira (see my separate blog post on the Madeira project here:http://www.jansengolfdesign.com/blog/madeira-and-ponta-do-pargo-both-engineering-marvels/) It was a great few days spent roaming the links + visiting other courses in the region like Crail, St Andrews, Kingsbarnes. Elie and co. We would stay in Edinburgh, one of my favourite cities, and enjoy the city by night and then take in the golf by day. I have fond memories of that trip and shared many stories with my friends from the Island.

turnberry a

Inside the ropes at Turnberry

I would get to visit Turnberry with my Faldo Design colleagues in 2009. I love the West Coast of Scotland…..in particular that spread of golf from Western Gailes down to Turnberry. During this trip we stayed in a snazzy farmhouse style B&B just outside Prestwick. This gave us all an opportunity to visit, once again, those proud links courses that grace the coastline – Prestwick (host of the 1st Open championship), Western Gailes and Troon. What made this trip extra special (no not the Haggis and Tenants beer) is that we got to walk ‘within the ropes’ as we followed Sir Nick Faldo around the Ailsa course and listened to his thoughts on the design. To think 15 years before I only dreamed about attending an Open and now I was walking the course as if I were playing it. Turnberry just could be the most scenic of all the ‘Open’ courses and has no shortage of good golfing holes to go.

turnberry

Turnberry 2009

I love sport and because of this I have been to many big sporting events but as a golf ‘nut’ and Architect it is hard to beat a day out at the Open – take my word.

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