Postage Stamp to have Open’s first ‘wire camera’

The Claret Jug. Picture: Jane Barlow
The Claret Jug. Picture: Jane Barlow
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The Postage Stamp, one of golf’s iconic holes, will feature the first “wire camera” at an Open Championship when the event’s 145th staging takes place at Royal Troon in July.

The shortest hole in Open golf - it officially measures 123 yards but could potentially play to just 99 yards - the eighth at the Ayrshire venue has been singled out for special treatment by the R&A in its partnership with the event’s new host broadcaster, Sky Sports.

Cameras will be positioned in all five of the bunkers that surround the green to highlight the difficulty of players escaping from them while the “wire camera” will provide an aerial perspective of the hole’s challenge.

It was there that Gene Sarazen made a hole-in-one in the 1973 Open Championship, but its long list of victims have included German Herman Tissies, who ran up a nightmare 15 in the 1950 Claret Jug joust.

“The Postage Stamp was screaming out to be a feature hole,” said Rhodri Price, the R&A’s director of championship operations, at a media briefing at the host club ahead of the 14-17 July event.

“Due to the playing condtions of golf in terms of ball flight, particiularly the likes of Bubba Watson, it is very difficult noprmally to place a wire camera on the course without it getting in the way of play.

“We recognise that, due to the short distance of the Postage Stamp, there was scope to get a wire camera in there on this iconic part of the golf course with the wonderful views.”

It is understood that the only other wire camera in golf is at the water-surrounded 17th at Sawgrass, another of the sport’s fabled holes, where the Players’ Championship, the so-called fifth major, is played.

“It will go all the way from the tee to a little winter green to the back left of the green,” added Price of the new technological innovation for the game’s oldest major. “I have been desperate to get a wire camera at The Open for years. It’s not easy.”

For the first time, a new spectator stand will also be located directly behind the tee on the eighth, increasing the total seating there to 1,012, with another stand being located on the bank at the left of the hole.

The practice area has also been targetted as an area where the spectator experience at the event is being enhanced for its first visit to Royal Troon since American Todd Hamilton sprang a surprise in 2004.

A giant electronic screen is being positioned there and will provide information such a pro-tracer while players will be encouraged to integrate with younger spectators in a designated “autograph zone”.

In another first out on the course, two spectator viewing platforms will be located at the 10th and 12th holes while there will be seating for 7,000 in the arena around the 18th green.

As for the course itself, it will measure 7,190 yards, just 15 yards longer than 12 years ago. The only significant change is at the 15th, where the fairway has been realigned to the left. Four fairway bunkers have also been built.

“This change replicates the original line of the fairway,” said Michael Wells, the R&A championship staging director. “It was also commonsense to move the fairway as logistically this was a difficult part of the course.”

Meanwhile, two people have been appointed to replace Ivor Robson, who retired as the event’s official starter after 41 years at St Andrews last year.

David Lancaster and Matt Corker, described as two “communication specialists”, have been appointed by the R&A to share the role this summer.

“Obviously it’s a long day so we felt it was useful to have two people in,” said R&A spokesman Mike Woodcock. “Perhaps with one person to lead and another person to support when required.

“We felt that was a realistic way to approach it and David and Matt are a very good team. They are excellent communication specialists and they will do a very good job.

“We haven’t got to the stage of discussing shift patterns but I would expect they will have a system that complements both of them and cover the event properly.”