The 148th Open Championship took place in 2019 at Royal Portrush. It was the first Open outside of England and Scotland in 68 years. The Irish were ready for the occasion and knocked it out of the park with the organisation, the golf course, and the craic. I was so disappointed that I didn’t attend that epic event that I swore I wouldn’t miss the next big one…and I didn’t.
The 150th was supposed to take place in 2021, but due to the pandemic, there wasn’t an Open in 2020, so the big one had to be pushed back a year. As a result, the planning for attending the event took upwards of three years in the end. So when we finally arrived in St Andrews last month, the excitement level was off the charts.
The attendance for the week was projected at 290,000, and with a train strike occurring at the same time, you could envision mayhem trying to navigate the town. However, it wasn’t that way at all. Somehow they managed to control the crowds and move everyone around easily all week.
It was a magical week that was helped by the fact that the weather was exceptional, and not just by Scottish standards! It rained but one morning and was warmer than usual all week. The course was in perfect condition, running hard and fast, and making it difficult for the pros to access some of the tucked pins on the large greens of the Old Course.
One of my goals for the week was to see Tiger hit a golf ball. He’s still one of my golfing idols, and although he didn’t play well and didn’t make the weekend, I was able to follow him a bit on Friday. The crowds were insane, often 8-10 people deep around tees and greens, but we were always able to find spots to watch some of our favourite players play one of the most – if not the most – iconic courses in the world.
Although there were 290,000 spectators attending the Open that week, the town wasn’t overwhelmed. Of course to get restaurant reservations we had to book over a year in advance but on the other nights, there was always somewhere to grab a bite, even if it was local pub fare.
The tournament came down to the wire with three guys battling for the Claret Jug on Sunday afternoon. I won’t lie, I was cheering for Rory, as was about 95% of the crowd based on the reactions throughout the day, mostly to missed Rory putts. It was a shame we didn’t get a big Rory roar at some point on Sunday, that would have given me goosebumps, but it was still fun following him through the last 9 holes of the tournament. Walking on the 1st/18th fairway while the final group putted out on 18 was the perfect climax to an experience I won’t soon forget.
Although I wasn’t able to attend the 2019 Open at Portrush, I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to see the best players in the world tackle the oldest golf course in the world. The experience didn’t disappoint. Now to plan that trip to Portrush for the 2025 Open!