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The Open Championship is arguably the most special golf event in the world, just ask Henrik. It sums up the sport better than any with its firm roots in tradition but appeal to golfers and sports fans of all ages.The Open Rota is made up of some of the finest links golf courses that the UK has on offer.
Since the tournament began in 1860, only 14 courses have ever been used and currently only 10 are on the rota. Whilst this is a great honour for these courses, is it selling some other courses short? Is it time to adopt the model the USGA use for the US Open and mix traditional with new venues?
The United States is a vast nation and the USGA are keen to allow their marquee championship to move around the country so that as many people as possible can have a chance to witness it. Now, this is not a problem that the R&A have in the UK but it would still be great to see the championship play some different courses.
Erin Hills, the host of the 2017 US Open Championship, was just 11 years old when it hosted one of the greatest events on the calendar. Compare that to the youngest course that the R&A can choose which is Trump Turnberry and that was built in 1909!
Maybe breathing the occasional fresh course onto the rota could be great for the championship. The question would be though, what courses would be good enough to challenge the great courses of The Open Rota?
As it stands, there are 10 courses on The Open Rota. They are, in order of first hosting the great championship:
This is where things become difficult. Many will have their own opinions of what are the best links courses in the UK. It is worth noting that in 2019, The Open will be held at Royal Portrush. Whilst this is not a new venue as such, it has only held the great championship once and it was in 1951, so it is a step in the right direction.
One course that springs to mind immediately is Royal Dornoch. This historic and truly outstanding links has all the pedigree of a course that should host The Open. The only issue is the location but as Inverness continues to grow this could become less of an issue. Also, one can’t help but feel that not being on the rota merely adds to the mystique and charm of this wonderful club.
Another contender could be Royal County Down, near Belfast. This is one of Britain’s finest courses, in fact it is second on our GB&I Top 100 courses list. Another contender could be Royal Porthcawl in Wales. This is the only nation in Britain that has never hosted an Open Championship. This year Royal Porthcawl will host The Senior Open Championship as it did in 2014 and it also held The Amateur Championship in 2016. Could this be the R&A testing the course as a major championship venue? Time will tell.
The Open Championship is steeped in tradition and this is undoubtedly of its major charms. If more courses were to be added as potential venues then it would only be right that they were venues that fit the bill of such traditions. The courses mentioned above do just that. It would be hard to pick a more modern course as it would seem wrong in some way.
The Open is golf as golf was played hundreds of years ago. It is exciting to see the current stars of the game and their contemporary equipment be challenged by ancient courses and mother nature. This is something incredibly special, this is what sets The Open apart from all other major championships.