This year’s Open Championship has been rebranded “Tee” in the park – with organisers revealing plans to allow camping for the first time in the history of the prestigious event.
In a move aimed at attracting the next generation of golf fans, a free “Camping Village” is being set up close to Royal Troon in Ayrshire, the venue for the game’s oldest major.
Organisers have revealed golf fans aged 25 and under will be able to stay the night in a camping village which will see pre-pitched tents near the course, at the town’s Marr Rugby Club, fitted out with inflatable camp beds.
They hope by attracting younger fans to watch the beautiful game more of them will take up the sport and join clubs in their area.
Fans can pre-book a two, four or six-person tent to sleep under the stars within yards of where golf’s top talents will walk the fairways.
There will be 500 camping places available to younger golf fans who hold a ticket for the Open each night during the event being held in July.
Like at the annual Scottish music festival T in the Park – which attracts 255,000 people including 70,000 campers – event goers who stay over will be able to use showers and get free car parking.
Organisers are trying to create a party atmosphere by putting on a range of food and drink outlets for the golf-loving campers – who get to pitch up in the tents free of charge.
The initiative is part of a commitment to ensuring the world famous event is open to all and attracts people of all ages.
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, the R&A’s executive director of championships for the sport’s governing body the Royal and Ancient (R&A), said: “There will be an exciting festival atmosphere at Troon as thousands of people come together for a true celebration of golf.
“The camping village will provide a fun and safe accommodation option for young people within easy walking distance of Royal Troon.
“The Open is a wonderful opportunity for young fans to get up close to their favourite players and we know this will help inspire future generations to pick up a club and take part themselves.”
Tickets for the Open start from £5 and organisers say they will be running free tickets for juniors.
Meanwhile, however, the founder of a body aimed at promoting equality in sport says Royal Troon should not have been permitted to host the Open because it still refuses to accept women members.
Maureen McGonigle of the Scottish Women in Sport Foundation said the club had to “come into the 21st century”.
The R&A said the issue was “a matter for the club” to decide on.
Royal Troon is one of two golf clubs on the rota to host the Open that do not accept female members. The other is Muirfield in East Lothian.
The Ayrshire club announced last year it was reviewing its all-male membership policy.
Ms McGonigle said: “To have that kind of attitude and be hosting one of the top events in Scotland – I do find that quite surprising and I don’t think it should happen.
“I think discrimination in any form, in this day and age, should not be allowed.
“There has got to be equality throughout.”