The Home of Golf held the sport's oldest major for the 30th time in 2022 – and Hannah Holden and Dan Murphy are at odds about how regularly the Claret Jug returns to Fife

The 150th edition of The Open was a magical week in every possible golfing sense. And it got us thinking about how often golf’s oldest major returns to its spiritual home of St Andrews.

Since the first Open in 1860, the Claret Jug has been held at the Home of Golf on average once every five years. But should it be more? Two of our writers disagree…

‘The Open should be at St Andrews every year’

The history of the area and the unique convergence of town and course creates an atmosphere like no other, writes Hannah Holden.

Walking around St Andrews for the 150th Open was like nothing I had ever experienced in golf before. There was something in the air that I hadn’t felt at other Open venues. The fans want to know how the fabulous Old Course, with its quirks, and its threats, would be dealt with by the world’s best. 

Think of how excited you get ahead of the Masters. How will the players tackle Amen corner? How many people will be caught off guard by the slick putting surfaces and the huge breaks? Who will win the par-3 competition?

People love getting involved in these endless debates and having The Open at the same course every year would help that narrative. St Andrews aside, by the time we run through the rotation I have no memory of the course to which we are returning, which makes the tournament nowhere near as enjoyable to follow.

The history of the Old Course also makes it an ideal venue. Like Augusta, each hole and hazard has its own name and is well storied, and we understand its significance and the challenges it presents. 

Take the Road Hole bunker as an example. We know how hard the recovery is from in there, and we are more appreciative of the skill of a shot hit close as a result. The bunker short of the green on 17 at Hoylake doesn’t stir quite the same emotion. 

It would also mean scores can be compared more easily year on year. The lowest Open score is difficult to understand when it’s on a different golf course each year.

The Open is the oldest golf championship in the world, with a rich history tied to St Andrews, it seems fitting that we celebrate that history every 12 months.

‘St Andrews should host The Open less often than it does’

You may be surprised to learn, writes Dan Murphy, that there have only been 10 Opens at Royal Birkdale, 11 at Royal Lytham & St Annes and 12 at Royal Liverpool. In other words, the total number of Opens held in England’s feted North West only just eclipses St Andrews’ tally of 30.

The continuing adherence to five-yearly visits is surely unnecessary. Broadly speaking, St Andrews hosts two Opens for every one that the other venues get to hold.

There have been times in the tournament’s history where there has been, if not a shortage, then certainly not a surfeit of suitable venues. In fact, there is actually a dignified queue right now – I would argue that we have never been so well stocked with great venues, nearly all of which are tried and tested in the modern era.

Moving clockwise from St Andrews, we have MuirfieldSt George’s, Hoylake, Birkdale, Lytham, Portrush, Turnberry, Troon, and Carnoustie. That’s 10 venues and in a nice, neat rota, if I can call it that, for the R&A to adhere to.

A decade is just right for me. It’s enough time so that there is a sense of eras changing from one visit to the next. Each year’s venue feels like an odd but richly satisfying combination of familiar but fresh. It’s like reacquainting yourself with an old friend.

As a golf fan, you are rewarded with historical knowledge of a venue when you can remember past exploits at a certain hole, but it’s all far enough in the past so that you can enjoy that ‘new toy’ thrill.

Going back to a venue 10 years on gives it a certain vitality.

What do you think? Should St Andrews host The Open more, or less, or are you happy with the five-year rota? Get in touch, or you can tweet us.

Visit our dedicated Open website for more from golf’s oldest major

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