Enjoy a family day out at The OpenMay 17, 2015
A day out watching a golf tournament can prove to be a fantastic and memorable family occasion. It gives you the opportunity to spend quality time together as a family, enjoy some fresh air and watch top-class sporting action as well.
Across the world, there are countless spectacular venues to watch golf, but one of the most iconic is at St Andrews in Scotland and this year The Open will be held at the course between Thursday 16th July and Sunday 19th July.
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As one of the oldest golf courses in the world, St Andrews is steeped in history and tradition, and it provides an unforgettable backdrop against which you can watch the world’s best golfers play for the Claret Jug, which is the trophy awarded to the winner of The Open.
The Old Course on which The Open is played is unique in golf in that seven of the greens are shared by two holes each, making it a fascinating test of a golfer’s ability.
There are also notable landmarks on the course, such as the Swilcan Bridge. This is what golfers will cross on both the first and last holes, and it is where golfers playing at St Andrews for the last time in their careers will stand and pose for photographs. You’ve also got the Road Hole, which is a devilish penultimate hole on the course. There have been many occasions in the past where a golfer has hit a slightly wayward second shot to end up off the back of the green and been forced to hit their next shot against a wall in order to get onto the green.
The way the course is set up as well makes it accessible for families of all ages to get around or remain in one place. There are seats for 20,000 people around the course, so there is ample opportunity to catch your breath for a moment during a long day of golf.
What makes going to The Open particularly attractive from a family perspective is that children under the age of 16 are admitted for free providing they are accompanied by an adult who has bought a ticket. This provides an excellent opportunity for youngsters to be introduced to the sport without costing too much money.
In terms of prices, for this year’s Open, tickets can be bought from £70 on a championship day. This may seem like a lot of money, but when you consider you could be at the course for 12 hours, it works out at good value. But perhaps what is also worth considering is going on a practice day when tickets are priced from £10.
The practice days are held from Sunday 12th July through to Wednesday 15th July. There is a more relaxed atmosphere on these days and you can often find that you have better and greater access to the professional golfers. It is much easier to get close up to the main players. Of course, you may have to play it by ear in terms of which golfers are going to turn up at what time, compared to the scheduled tee-off times of the tournament. But it can provide a valuable insight into the preparation it requires for a golfer to win one of the most prestigious prizes in sport.
HOW TO GET THERE
There are also several ways for you to get to the course. If you’re driving, then it is advisable to follow the signs for parking, rather than just relying on your satellite navigation system to get you to the course. It is going to be extremely busy around the local area during the week of the tournament, but fortunately there is plenty of information to help you out. There will be clearly marked routes for you to follow and these signs will also give you the details of the local radio stations which will be providing regular traffic updates.
There is a cost attached to parking as well, so you should bear this in mind. It costs £10 if you are visiting the course between the Sunday and Tuesday, while it is £15 from Wednesday onwards. You can pay in advance, but if you are going to pay on the day, then you will need to have some cash handy.
A simple way to help you cut down on the likely stress levels of driving around St Andrews is to use the Park and Ride service which is being put on. Taking the dedicated bus service, which runs regularly throughout the day, will help you to reach the course much quicker. Signs will be displayed in the area to inform you where you can find the Park and Ride.
One way to avoid being stuck in traffic and the risk of missing any of the action is to take the train. ScotRail will be putting on an enhanced service for the week of the tournament that will also provide a bus journey to the course. You will need to catch a train to Leuchars Station and then you jump on a bus to the course.
But one other way to get to the course is a great option if you are on a family holiday in the area and are not just going to Scotland for the golf. You can travel to St Andrews by bike as there will be a designated Bicycle Park near the course. You are not allowed to take your bikes on to the course, but if the weather is fine then it would be a fantastic way to get there.
If you are travelling from slightly further afield and will be flying to Scotland, then Dundee Airport is only 15 miles away. It may be more likely that you will fly into Edinburgh, but even that is only 48 miles away from the course.
If you want to stay near the course, then there is a wide variety of accommodation, going from five-star hotels, to guest houses, and bed and breakfasts. However, these can get booked up quite quickly.
To help you in your search for accommodation, then there is an Official Open Accommodation Bureau which can provide you with advice. This Bureau will provide details on the various accommodation options which are available. So it could be that you want to book into a hotel for just one night, or maybe you want to rent a house for the week. If you visit the official Open website, you will find details of how you can make contact with the Bureau.
Scotland’s National Tourism Organisation – Visit Scotland – is also a valuable tool to use when you are searching for accommodation in the country. This will help you to search within a certain radius of St Andrews for somewhere to stay. Alternatively, it can provide you with details of accommodation in Edinburgh, which is something worth considering as it is straightforward to travel up from the Scottish capital to St Andrews.
If it is the first time you have been to a golf tournament, then the location of St Andrews makes it an excellent way to make it part of an overall trip to Scotland. Situated on the east coast, just an hour north of Edinburgh, it can easily be done as a day trip.
It all depends on what you think would work out best for your family, but that option can be a great introduction to golf.
At the same time, you don’t want to make the mistake of thinking that St Andrews is only home to one of the most famous golf courses in the world. There is more than just the golf course to take in.
Let’s not forget that St Andrews is home to the university where Prince William and Kate Middleton met. Given the Royal couple have recently celebrated the birth of their second child it seems somewhat fitting that this year’s Open is being held at St Andrews. The University is also the oldest in Scotland and there is a rich history to be discovered.
St Andrews Castle should also not be missed and this can be a fun and educational attraction for the children. It is by no means in pristine condition these days following numerous battles over the centuries, but there is a ‘bottle dungeon’ which should be explored.
Another landmark that offers a hint of the grandeur of yesteryear is St Andrews Cathedral. It may be mostly remains these days, but you are still able to climb to the top of the cathedral. If you do, then you will not be disappointed as you will be greeted by some jaw-dropping views.
For the film buffs among you, golf is not massively represented in the movies, save for the likes of Tin Cup and Happy Gilmore. But there is a film and sporting interest to St Andrews, and it doesn’t actually involve golf. The beach at West Sands, which runs alongside the Jubilee Course at St Andrews, was in the opening scene of the film Chariots of Fire.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
So, if you do decide to head to St Andrews this summer to watch The Open, you’ll want to know which players to watch and there are several to keep an eye out for this year. Your kids could even discover some new heroes to look up to.
The current world number one in golf is Rory McIlroy and he won The Open last year when it was held at Royal Liverpool. He could be the favourite to win The Open again and his talent, combined with a personable nature, make him one of the most popular players in golf. He has won a Major four times in his career and he finished in a tie for third the last time The Open was played at St Andrews.
The former world number one Tiger Woods has twice won The Open at St Andrews in 2000 and 2005. But, in more recent times, he has attracted plenty of headlines off the course in his personal life, and also on it for the way he has struggled to find any consistency in his golf game. He has also recently shown a softer side to his character after emerged that Woods had written a letter to a fan who had been bullied due to suffering from a stutter.
Jordan Spieth is the rising star from the United States and he has many similarities to McIlroy after winning the Masters in April. He has a likeable personality to go along with a magnificent golf game which doesn’t just rely on being able to hit it as hard and as far as you can.
Arguably the smartest dresser in golf, Ian Poulter even has his own clothing range. But it’s not his dress sense that makes him worth watching, it is the fact that he is one of the most passionate players on the tour.
by Keith Allison
Another golfer on the tour to be known for his snazzy dress sense, Rickie Fowler used to be seen wearing an all-orange outfit with his hair flowing out of the bottom of his cap.
Tom Watson has won The Open five times in his remarkable career and he will be playing at St Andrews for the final time this year at the age of 65. He has yet to win The Open at St Andrews, but he did finish in a tie for second behind Seve Ballesteros in 1984.
Like Watson, Nick Faldo will be playing at St Andrews for the last time and he won The Open at the course in 1990. In all, Faldo has won six Major titles to make him the most successful British golfer in history.
So, whether you want to visit St Andrews solely for the golf to watch the world’s best players compete in The Open, tie in the golf with a visit to the local area itself or head for a day trip to the course as part of a wider holiday in Scotland, then you really are spoilt for choice.
St Andrews is easy to get to, there is no shortage of information and, providing the weather holds up, it is going to offer some breathtaking and spectacular scenery.