What's the best Open venue?
Alex Perry: Suck in that fresh sea air, boys, the Open Championship is but a week away. Our favourite week of the year, other than that one where we all get giddy about Augusta. Birkdale’s nice, isn’t it? But which is the best Open venue?
Joe Urquhart: Getting in early. St Andrews. Doesn’t need an explanation.
Alex Perry: Shall we get the St Andrews chat out of our system so we can crack on?
Joe Urquhart: When you know, you know.
Alex Perry: The first time I went to St Andrews wasn’t for the Open. It was a surreal experience. I think don’t surreal is the best way to describe it, but you know what I mean. Kind of out of body. Turning the corner by the Dunvegan onto Golf Place, seeing the clubhouse for the first time, then looking out over the 1st and 18th. It stirred emotions I’d never felt before.
James Savage: I love the fact the course is in the middle of the town. You can go into Nando’s and see Charley Hoffman tucking into some Peri-Peri chicken or bump into David Leadbetter at the cash machine.
Tom Irwin: Do Nando’s not take credit cards?
James Savage: Open venues in the middle of nowhere lose that intimate feel.
Alex Perry: When I went back for the Open in ’15, it wasn’t the same. Not because it wasn’t my first time, but because the huge grandstands take away from what is one of the best panoramas in world golf.
Mark Townsend: The Old Course is my favourite Open venue based on a lads’ trip there to celebrate the end of O levels. One of us, Phil, popped his cherry with an American girl, three of us spent too much time on the Himalayas. The Old Course is also the worst viewing venue but the town is the town.
James Savage: In general, links courses are not great for spectators and media. It just takes too long to get from one end of the course to the other. At Hoylake, I felt I spent the entire week waiting for a steward to lift that bit of rope to let me cross the fairway.
Dan Murphy: Any of the Scottish ones that aren’t St Andrews or Turnberry for me. I think the Carnoustie galleries are probably the most down-to-earth, appreciative, golf-loving galleries. I like the Open best when it’s in Scotland because it is more proper.
Craig Middleton: Hoylake. My first Open experience. Loved the venue and it was the first time I saw Tiger in the flesh.
James Broadhurst: That’s my answer as well. Hoylake. I was there in ’06 and watched Tiger up close on the putting green. A magical day.
Matthew Beedle: Muirfield is where I watched my first Open but I’ll go for Hoylake. Went there when Rory won and then went back to hack it round in 95 for my first experience of a links golf course…
Steve Carroll: Royal Troon, partly because, and this is a not-so humble brag, I’ve played it, but mainly because I think it’s seriously underrated. The Postage Stamp is one of the world’s great holes, the opening looking out along the Ayrshire coast is stunning and the back 9 can humble even the most skilled practitioner. What’s not to like?
Alex Perry: Troon is brilliant – I love the 6th hole. And it’s in a brilliant part of the world that’s really easy to get to. I’ve only played Birkdale and the Old so a no-brainer for me. Though I do love Birkdale.
Mark Townsend: My favourite to play is Muirfield.
Alex Perry: Any former venues would you like to see return to the Open rota? Or how about a new Open host? Joe’s shout for Kingsbarns in 5, 4, 3…
Joe Urquhart: The more I think about it there’s no way it could ever happen, unfortunately. No infrastructure in place for that type of event but the course is obviously good enough.
Tom Irwin: Prestwick is my favourite and it must be due, it hasn’t had one since 1925 and is very handy for the airport.
Alex Perry: I get the feeling transport links are important to you.
Dan Murphy: I don’t think we are short of Open venues at the moment. I’d like to see St Andrews appearing once rather than twice per rotation so that each course is roughly getting one per decade.
Alex Perry: Obviously Royal North Devon. Tom’s got my back on this.
James Savage: I’d like to see Turnberry back because it’s amazing but doubt that will happen for political reasons. Shame. Don’t think I’ve played anywhere that isn’t on the rota which has made me think it should be. The only place which has come close is Trump Aberdeen but that would be very tricky for spectators and the politics are an issue again.
Dan Murphy: The Turnberry Open in 2009 felt like the most sparsely attended one I have been to.
James Savage: It’s not the easiest to get to. That last part of the journey seems to take forever.
Tom Irwin: See? Infrastructure.