Scotland shows there isn't much "open" about exclusive U.S. Open golf venues
Every single British Open venue in Scotland, from Carnoustie which I played today, to the Old Course at St. Andrews which I play tomorrow, is open to the public.
Sure, regular stops like Muirfield and Troon only open their doors on certain days and have limited public availability, and the Old Course can be a challenge to get on during peak months, but that’s still better than just about every exclusive U.S. Open venue like Winged Foot, Oakland Hills, Oakmont, Merion, etc.
Only current stops Pinehurst No. 2 and Bethpage Black are easily accessible to the public. Pebble Beach, while “open” to the public, demand upwards of $500 per round plus a night’s stay in their ritzy hotel.
The Links Trust at St. Andrews on the other hand, keeps greens fees at the Old Course reasonable even though they could charge Pebble prices if they wanted to. The Old Course costs about the same as an ordinary course in Scottsdale - about $200.
Why should some average kid get excited about golf when he’s watching millionaires play on a private club he won’t be able to play unless its Monday and he was raking the bunkers all week? Think about the message it sends.
If you watched Phil and Monty’s meltdowns at Winged Foot this year, you likely engaged in a conversation that included, “All he had to do was…” which eventually leads to a “well if I played the hole…”
Well you can’t play that hole. Few can. But everyone can play the 18th at Carnoustie, home of Jean Van de Velde’s epic collapse in 1999.
I played it today, and I equalled Jean Van de Velde’s triple bogey with a shot into the burn (too cold to go in after it) and a chunked chip. Suddenly I don’t think it was such a monumental collapse. The final five holes there are killer.
It’s not like there isn’t a plethora of storied public tracks to choose from. Consider these public courses as U.S. Open venues.
Surely I’m omitting even better venues.
What’s missing in these courses, tradition? Well that’s nothing a few majors can’t solve. And really all it takes to be a U.S. Open course these days is a good infrastructure, room to make an 8,000 yard golf course, and rough that can grow to two feet.
If the U.S. Open is the tournament “anyone” can win, it should be played on a course “anyone” can play.
Carnoustie will host the British Open in 2007, and it’s open to the public all year long.
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