It doesn’t take much to stay interested in the British Open
SHEPHERDSTOWNWhen they allow children to come to this year’s British Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, without any charge, they won’t instruct them to hide their eyes and cover their ears if the usual wind chases many a shot off line and into the native heather, gorse or broom bushes.
Just giving the youngsters some inspiring looks at the grand old game, first recorded to have been played in Scotland in 1457, will keep the youth interested. Build the game. Never mind the bruising self images the players suffer when shots go out of bounds, pot bunkers make for triple bogeys or narrow little bits of walled-in water claim another too-short iron shot.
It’s The Open in Scotland, the birthplace of golf.
You can’t see the vast body of water nearby from the course itself, but your score can feel the rancor of the wind when you attempt your 18 holes against it.
Carnoustie is the northernmost site of the courses used on The Open circuit. Weather can be as much a factor as anything. A cloudy day with only minimal glimpses of the sun are a regular habit. It may rain, and in two hours be more gentle and admit the golfing field to softer greens and lower scores.
The fairways are narrow. The Carnoustie course measures 7,402 yards and three headaches per round.
Watch hole No. 6. There’s an out-of-bounds fence that sometimes grabs even only slightly off-line shots. Four pars at this heartache hole, for any British Open tournament, is like a get-out-of-jail-free card on a Monopoly board.
Jordan Spieth won last year’s British Open Championship, even after three bogeys on the first four holes of his final round. Rory McIlroy won it in 2014 and sometimes-mercurial Phil Mickelson had the Claret Jug raised in front of him in 2013.
It was in 2007 that the last British Open was attempted at Carnoustie. It took a four-hole playoff to decide the champion.
The links course can give the players plenty of roll on their drives, but its bunkers can swallow shots against their cement-like walls.
Coarse grass in the roughs as well as the unforgiving wind can chase poorly aimed shots to places where no person has ever wandered, and cows would never find a tender plant to eat.
For the players, it has to be mind-over-matter on some days. Errant shots have to be forgotten like elementary school lunches, when you were eight-years-old.
The par is 71. In Scotland, it’s a much-revered test of golf. On Sunday night it will have been a successful test of courage and grit for a few players . . . and a knee-wobbling experience for too many others.