For a fan of the game of golf that I am, aside from The Masters in Augusta, Georgia in early Spring, the Open Championship stands at the very top of my list of favorite tournaments. An event that rotates between the finest links courses in the U.K., this year’s Open is being held this week at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s in Lancashire, England and is sure to be another chapter of the world’s best golfers braving the elements and all that Mother Nature can throw at’em along the shores of the Atlantic.
A fan since childhood, my love for the ultimate test of links golf really hit ten years ago, when I was fortunate enough to attend the 2002 Open Championship at Muirfield in Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland. The Saturday I had credentials for the tournament, the weather began calm, dry and cool, but by mid-day, turned into one of the most challenging, painful and nasty rounds of Open Championship golf in history. Blistering, pelting rains. Vicious winds. Frigid temps. Misery, but this is what links golf is all about. Braving the elements.
Rather than huddle in the clubhouse, merchandise tents or on-site pub to stay dry and warm at Muirfield, I decided I hadn’t come all this way for nothin’ and chose to buck up and head out on the course. A memory I will never forget is following Tiger Woods, in chase of his third straight major and possible Grand Slam, throughout, what turned out to be his worst round as a professional, shooting an unbelievable score of 81.
Players could barely hold onto their clubs. Hitting drivers on a 213-yard par-4 only to come up short. The rain was coming down so hard, it hurt. The wind was enough to knock someone over. I have honestly never experienced dismal conditions like I did walking Muirfield on that Saturday in July 2002. But, as has been proven, the weather during the Open can change at the drop of a hat. The following day on Sunday, the winds were calm, the conditions dry and the scores low. Such is the beauty of links golf. A different game across the pond.
If you, too, are a fan of the game of golf, hope you enjoy every second of the Open Championship coverage this weekend from Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s. I know I will. Cheers, y’all!
The Open Championship
Muirfield – The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers
Host of The Open Championship – 2013
Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s Golf Club