It is a privilege available to few and the dream of many. Matt Chivers tells all about walking inside the ropes with the leaders at Hoylake
I didn’t know how to approach walking inside the ropes at The Open for the first time.
Should I just join the final group on the first hole? Or delay my move until they reach the 2nd green – right next to the media centre.
I took the plunge and bent down under the rope. I entered the inner sanctum in front of the tee box, looking into the lion’s den as Brian Harman and Cameron Young entered the fray.
“On the tee, Ricky Ponting,” one fan said before Harman was announced in game no.38.
Much like Harman, Ponting was unfazed by the wet conditions in the Northwest, benefitting his beloved Aussie cricket team no end.
After religiously reading the press walking rules, I essentially scrapped my revision and followed my other colleagues around the circumference of each hole.
I knelt down low by the first green, and before Harman even had an attempt at birdie, the leaderboard clicked Young’s score one shot further back after a tap-in bogey.
You get quite a few funny looks from spectators while inside the ropes, I must admit.
“How is anyone meant to see anything?” one marshal said when watching the stream of reporters march down the side of the 2nd hole.
I counted 26 people in the middle of the first fairway too and, on the surface, this sounds ridiculous.
But if anyone has the faintest sniff of walking on the same side of the yellow cordon as the players, they’d jump at the chance – just like I did.
I avoided the fairway at all costs. In this situation, you are just following two people playing golf, so there’s no need to be more intrusive than necessary.
I felt a touch of imposter syndrome. I followed the leaders through the corridor from the 6th green towards the 7th tee, and it felt like everyone was staring at me.
“Look at all these people trailing behind,” I heard one fan say. But once again, who isn’t taking this opportunity when it comes?
When Harman and Young stopped at their balls, either in the fairway or on the green, I bent down to avoid obstructing the paying punters, but only for so long.
My knees are concerningly weak and I could only crouch for a short time before feeling significant muscular pain. Hurry up and play lads – I’m in agony.
The rain was relentless and quite frankly, I was wet through.
The fans in the Links Pavilion left of the 4th fairway looked warm and dry as they peered through the glass, where it was as if I’d been dipped in the Mersey.
But I didn’t care. I braved seven holes and loved every second of it.
The 151st Open might’ve been an unexciting procession courtesy of the masterful Harman, but to walk where I walked on the hallowed turf of Hoylake was nothing less than a dream come true.
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