There really was only one place to go this week with our Claims to Fame feature, and that was Royal Portrush, which has been announced as the venue for the 2019 Open.
Only 15 clubs have hosted the Open, and the Northern Irish club is the only one not in Scotland or England to have held the honour.
The town of Portrush will never be known as one of Ireland’s hidden gems – it’s a centre for arcades, slot machines, gaudy discos, while opposite Royal Portrush is a nightclub called Kelly’s which reached its zenith in the rave scene of the 1990s.
But it’s also home to one of the UK’s top courses – the Dunluce Links, laid out in 1929 by Harry Colt.
‘A putter fashioned from an old piece of driftwood gave him the confidence to take the next step’
The course is named after a medieval castle which overlooks it. Once owned by Winston Churchill and visited by martial arts star Jackie Chan while he was filming in the area, it’s a craggy old monument that keeps on clinging in there – a bit like Arnold Palmer.
It was this course which saw that solitary Open excursion away from Britannia’s shores.
The 1951 Open is in the history books as having been won by Englishman Max Faulkner, who claimed the Claret Jug and the £300 top prize.
Before Ian Poulter, Gary Player and Doug Sanders, Faulkner was the original golfing peacock.
He was a boisterous character, fond of comedians and of holding court, while his clothing was the brightest he could find.
From plus-fours to plus-phwoars
Stood on the 16th tee on the final day, Faulkner held a four-stroke lead. He’d finished fourth in two previous Opens, but a new putter, allegedly fashioned from an old piece of driftwood, had given him the confidence to finally take the next step.
He hooked his tee shot within a few inches of the out-of-bounds fence and was faced with a choice of chipping back on to the fairway and accepting a bogey, or hitting what his American playing partner Frank Stranahan would go on to describe as “the greatest shot I’ve ever seen.”
He chose the latter.
With the Claret Jug hanging in the balance, Faulkner struck his three wood over the fence, out of bounds, and watched as it faded right. It crossed back into play, bounded up the fairway and came to a stop on the green.
Two holes later and Herbert Gustavus Max Faulkner was crowned a worthy champion.
Can it already be a week since we discovered what strange creatures roamed Britain’s fairways? If you want to get in on the action, click HERE.
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