Members of golf clubs in Carnoustie will not be affected by a no-readmissions policy set to be in place at this year’s Open Championship at the Angus venue.
Concerns had been expressed in the build up to the event about the local clubs losing out financially due to the implementation of a new policy introduced at Royal Birkdale last year.
But, according to R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers, members of those clubs will be able to come and go freely when golf’s oldest major returns to Carnoustie for the first time since Padraig Harrington won the Claret Jug in 2007.
“At Carnoustie, the clubs are so important to our staging of The Open,” said Slumbers, speaking in St Andrews today. “Many of them are volunteering to work.
They’re important to the ambiance and actually the clubs are, in effect, inside for this no-readmission, so you’ll be able to go in and out of the club if you’re a member of the club.”
According to the organisers, the new policy was introduced to try and combat the number of unofficial corporate hospitality packages now being offered around the event.
“We are deeply conscious that the Open Championship is the only one of the four majors that’s played outside of America,” added Slumbers.
“We’re deeply conscious of the history in our game, and it being the oldest championship, so we very much think about the history and conditions of our game when we’re thinking about The Open.
“But we also recognise that we want it to be viewed in the eyes of the public as one of the world’s greatest sporting events, not just golfing events.
“As part of that, we look at it and say, we want to make sure we have a world-class experience for our players, our patrons, our suppliers and other sponsors, and our fans.
“One of the things that we have done in the last two to three years is start to put measurements around what does world-class mean.
“The Open is pretty damned good, but we want to get it better and better every year, and you do that by making little steps and little things and little improvements.
“On the player side, a great example of that was where we put the gym in for the first time at Birkdale right next to the players’ facility, which proved to be extremely popular with the players.
“Every year we have significant problems around unofficial hospitality and one of the (R&A) team just had an email on Friday offering us the unofficial hospitality, which was kind of amusing. So this is real. It’s happening all over the place.
“It purports to be official hospitality, but it makes claims about access that are just not true. And we also have problems with people forging tickets as part of that.
“When that happens, The Open experience goes down enormously because those people who have been mis-sold hospitality blame us. We get a lot of this on the gate every year, and it’s very, very uncomfortable.”
“Unofficial hospitality is a real issue for us. It degrades The Open. It undermines that fan experience, and we have decided that the no-readmission policy is a very core way, along with other things that we are doing, to reduce unofficial hospitality.
“That’s the primary reason that we want to do this, and it applies all across the campus, but every venue will look at how we do it.
“We started at Birkdale for the first time. We had problems with unofficial hospitality at Birkdale, and we’ll see how it works at Carnoustie, and then we’ll take an assessment where we go from there.”