The Fourball team pick out their favourite homes for the game's oldest major – and it's not the usual Old Course love in
With the new that Royal Troon is set to host the Open Championship again in 2023 we get a little misty eyed and reminisce over our favourite Open venue and everything that comes with it…
Andy: I enjoy the hullaballoo of St Andrews as much as the next person, but as an overall venue, I’m hard pressed to look beyond Royal Troon. Obviously, I’m incredibly biased being a member there but seeing the best players in the world – and everything else that comes with it – descend upon the place you’ve grown up in really is special.
My big hope for 2023 is that the course plays how it can, and does, normally. Not to take anything away from the 2016 duel between Stenson and Mickelson – the level of golf was ridiculous – but apart from a spell on the Friday afternoon, conditions were incredibly benign.
And as for the social aspect, I don’t know if I’ve ever had more fun than that week in 2016. By the time Sunday rolled around, I was absolutely broken. With the town so close to the course, it’s difficult not to have fun at a Troon Open.
Alex: The 2016 Open at Royal Troon was my favourite to cover as a journalist. A great town, an incredible course, exceptional weather and that Stenson-Mickelson duel. And it all ended with my then ESPN colleague Michael Collins stripping off to his underwear and running into the Firth of Clyde midway through our live report. I can’t even remember why.
But I have to be boring and say St Andrews. It may not be the best viewing course but just walking through the town, whether it’s Open week or not, has the hairs on my neck standing on end. So history wins it for me.
I’m not ashamed to say I shed a tear the first time I was there, and 2015 provided one of the more entertaining weeks of my career, including a Monday finish, and missed flight, and a sleeper train back to London.
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Mark: There’s no place like St Andrews and all the rest of it but we’re there so often, and then there’s the Dunhill Links, that it does lose a bit of its lustre.
Merely going by the course I always think that the grandest Open is Muirfield. The winners there are out of this world and the layout likewise. I used to have, for some reason, a VHS recording of Trevino breaking Jacklin there so maybe that also plays a part.
I once asked half a dozen senior tour players, with more than 100 Open starts between them, what their favourite was and every one said Birkdale in a flash as ‘what you see is what you get’.
Give Portrush another Open and I’d have that at least in my top two.
Joe: Having attended a few different Opens and made good use of the free youth camping facilities I’ve been able to get a taste of a range of different host courses and indeed the areas surrounding them, but for me nothing beats the local stop – Royal Liverpool.
My first live experience came there in 2006 when I was keen to grab an autograph from as many guys as possible on the first practice day (yes, I got Tiger’s). Then, in 2014 I was on the first Merseyrail train over to Hoylake each day from my parents’ home less than 20 miles away to fit in as much viewing as possible. There’s just a different feeling about the Open being in a place you know and that is close to home; it’s as if you’re part of it, more than just a spectator. And as for the course, it’s just brilliant.