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What I would do to save The Open

What I would do to save The Open

In his latest Foghorn column, Tom Irwin reveals how the Open Championship is turning into an event with all the status of the Greenbrier Classic. Fortunately, he knows how to save it...*
 

I am worried about the Open Championship.

It’s a bit, you know, samey.

It’s always at a links course (yawn) for a start, the same 10 or so places with those funny manual scoreboards on the 18th.

Very rarely do the right people contend like at the Masters where they know how to get it just the same each year.

The USGA are doing a great job taking their Open to some really fun, quirky venues to spice things up a bit, while the PGA is literally moving with the times – namely a date change.

The world is moving on around us so I think it is about time we thought about freshening things up a bit at the Open

1. Tweak the venues

They are always in stupid places. Infrastructure is a word that gets bandied around a lot when it comes to Open venues. Well, the current venues have none in my experience.

This year’s venue, Royal Birkdale, would take me almost four hours to reach by train, despite the fact I only live 80 miles away. Royal St George’s is at the end of a single-track road. And in a couple of years they are moving to Northern Ireland. What next, France?

There is no infrastructure at any of the current Open venues. They are tucked away in little seaside towns that every other week of the year serve only to attract the interest of solitary horses. Why can’t we have it at The Belfry, or The Grove? They are nice and near cities.

2. Create the right weather

What we want is sunny, windy, bouncy conditions, so we can all have an ice cream while watching the players doing something different. What we invariably get is flat-calm conditions on receptive courses, and as soon as the weather turns play is suspended.

Global warming has basically ruined the Open. The R&A should invest all the money they have in creating huge under-floor vacuums to suck out all the moisture from the soil and erect wind turbines around the course to blow in different directions on all four days.

That would make it how it is supposed to be. That is what the USGA would do – and they know how to put on a golf tournament.

3. Eliminate luck

We get a split field where one half of the draw inevitably have an easier ride than the other, and that’s not fair now, is it?

Plus, when the ball is bouncing about there is too much left to chance – like hops off hollows into the middle of greens, or sideways kicks into the rough.

Don’t even get me started on blind shots – what are they all about? If you can’t zap it how can you can hit it the right yardage?

And the bunkers are silly – sometimes you have to take a drop and very often you can’t reach the green from the fairway ones.

These things are helping the luckiest, rather than the best, players come to the fore.

4. Change some of the past champions

The wrong person always wins. Take the last few years: Mickelson would have been a better winner rather than yet another first-timer; anyone is a better winner than Zach Johnson; Hoylake wasn’t even an Open; Lee Westwood or Ian Poulter at Muirfield please; obviously Adam Scott in 2012; Darren Clarke has never looked like winning a major before or since; and I can’t even spell the name of the bloke that won in it 2010.

And just so we are in absolutely no doubt, and because we don’t hear enough about it, Stewart Cink, Todd Hamilton and Ben Curtis have their names on the Claret Jug.

It is supposed to be the Open Championship, golf’s oldest major, not the Greenbrier Classic.

5. Modernise the presentation ceremony

The eyes of the world are for once watching golf, and we treat them to some relics in blazers, being two-finger clapped as players thank the organisers, the greenkeepers, the caterers,  and if we are really lucky, God. A lot.

Where are the fireworks? Spice it up a bit. Put it to a phone vote maybe. Or get Vernon Kay to present it?

*Please, please, please don’t listen to a word of this. It is the best event in sport, please leave it just the way it is and anyone who says any different is just a bad ideas mule.

Tom Irwin

Tom Irwin

Tom is a lifetime golfer, now over 30 years playing the game. 2023 marks 10 years in golf publishing and he is still holding down a + handicap at Alwoodley in Leeds. He has played over 600 golf courses, and has been a member of at least four including his first love Louth, in Lincolnshire. Tom likes unbranded clothing, natural fibres, and pencil bags. Seacroft in Lincolnshire is where it starts and ends.

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