In a rare occurence in modern-day golf, the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie will be played on a shorter course than the one when it last staged the event in 2007.
Due mainly to a grandstand at the back of the tee reducing the length of the opening hole, the Angus course for the 19-22 July event will measure 7,402 yards, which is 19 yards shorter than 11 years ago.
“Carnoustie – and this is what we learned from ’99 (when it was dubbed Car-nasty) – is one of the few golf courses that doesn’t need anything,” said Padraig Harrington, the winner then. “It’s a championship golf course whether you turn up in July for The Open Championship or whether you play it in April or October. It needs no protection. It is just a strong, solid challenge.
“We don’t want it tricked up. It’s a good enough golf course without anything needing to be done with it. That’s the beauty of it.”
A total of 15,000 seats around the course for this year’s event will include provision for 5,300 people in the 18th hole arena while an attempt is also being made to crank up the atmosphere on the first tee.
“We’re creating a bit of a cauldron,” said Rhodri Price, the R&A’s director of of championship operations. “We’ve never wrapped the first tee here before but it controls the spectator movement at the back, so it’s ideal.”
For the third year running, a camping village will be in operation, with more than 3,000 spectators having already taken advantage of free accommodation for young people and a low-cost rate for adults at nearby Carnoustie High School.
“That started in Troon, then doubled in size at Birkdale, and has doubled in size here,” said Price. “For younger spectators, we recognise that during the week of the Open the cost of accoms in the locale can be pretty challenging and often a barrier to attending.”
Youth tickets are currently available for £35 for the four championship days.