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There are two things you need to know about me: I love the British Golf Open Championship, and I’m a people watcher.

So when I’m wandering around the grounds at The Open – which is what I shall call it from now on for fear of losing my media credentials – you’ll more likely find me observing complete strangers.

Why? Let’s face it, there is no one quite as odd as a golf fan at an Open. (And I mean that in the nicest possible way.)

• Is The Open the ultimate fan experience?

• Why you won’t see golfers grandstanding at The Open

Americans are by far my favourite people with which to chat about our favourite sport. I’m fascinated by people who have travelled so far to be a part of the world’s best golf tournament.

One such tourist asked me in her thick southern accent how to get to the 13th hole. “I’ve heard that’s where you can get autographs.” Now I know you should never ask a woman’s age but she was definitely too old to be asking Stewart Cink to scribble on her overpriced yellow flag.

“Where are you from?” I asked politely as we started moving towards that part of the course.

“The US,” she replied. I laughed, because I thought it was a joke. It wasn’t. That was the end of our brief encounter.

A few moments later, I overheard another trans-Atlantic traveller mutter to his friends: “You know, I can’t really get on board with links golf.” I contacted security and he was escorted off the premises and, presumably, thrown straight in jail.

Another chap, while we waited for a group and their dozens of hangers on at a crosswalk on the 8th hole to pass, commented on the fact that such a large number are allowed to walk the course. “Why do they need so many people with them? At Augusta only the player and his caddie can be inside the ropes.”

Listen to your people, R&A!

But you get the drift. Can I count that as my first piece of advice? (Meet new people, I mean, not fall out with ill-educated Americans.) I think so.

So as I spent my Wednesday wandering the 154-year-old links of Royal Liverpool Golf Club doing all my favourite things I like to do at The Open, I thought I’d share them with you in case you’re headed to Hoylake this week…

Get there early

And not just to maximise the people watching potential. If you can, try and be on the property as soon as the gates open. It’s all good and well waltzing in at midday when the place is already rammed, but walking round with just a handful of players on the course is surprisingly therapeutic.

The grandstand behind the first tee is small, but there’s a tremendous atmosphere once the highlight groups start coming out. So get in there if you can. It’s a special Open moment everyone should experience at least once in their life.

If the practice rounds are anything to go by, the small grandstand to the right of the new par-3 17th is going to be incredibly popular – so if you want to get in it and see just how much drama it’s going to cause, you may have to get there long before the first groups reach The Open’s newest hole.

See the course

Don’t just sit in one place all day. Liverpool is one of the best viewing courses on the Open rota.

The wonderful contours that flank each fairway and greens act as natural grandstands that provide not only unobstructed views of the action, but also an ampitheatre-like atmosphere.

There is also plenty of space, and some of the best holes are at the far end of the course.

It’s important to get your steps in, remember.

If you can’t get in your preferred seating area, consider the bleachers that overlook the 12th green and 13th hole, and at the back of the 16th green. If you get in the back row of either of these, you can see so much golf – with the added bonus of the glorious views out across the River Dee.

Watch the stars practice

It’s brilliant when they’re strutting their stuff on the course, and the main reason you’re there, of course, but finding a seat at the range, or at the chipping green by the second green, is a brilliant experience. With the latter, you can get so close to the stars you can hear everything they’re saying, and there’s even a little autograph zone for the kids.

Hit up the merch tent

Obviously, right?

Again – and you’ll spot a theme here – get there early to beat the queues. If you don’t want to lug it all around with you, there are places you can leave it for a small fee. (Or just tweet me and I’ll keep it under my desk in the media centre for a tenner.)

But leave it until lunchtime and you’ll face one hell of a wait to get in. And no one needs a Claret Jug-logoed ball marker that badly…

• The internal out of bounds waiting to wreck an Open dream

• Hoylake 17th ‘could ruin someone’s career’ says top coach

Stay late

You’ve reached the 10-hour mark, your skin hurts from a mixture of sun and wind burn, you’re soaked from the random showers that passed over, and you’ve spent the equivalent of a house deposit on food, beer, and Claret Jug merch.

But on Thursday and Friday, when the sun is starting to dip into the Atlantic Ocean, there is still plenty to see. It may not be the biggest names in the field, but you can generally get up close and personal with some of the best to ever pick up a golf club.

It’s difficult to describe, but it’s magical. Try it. You won’t regret it.

And finally, Open spectators…

The Open Radio is a wonderful accompaniment to your time at the course. You can either buy the headsets, which are £12 a pop, or free on the Open app. And, whisper it, the Wi-Fi is free and genuinely quite good.

Make sure you listen to our Open Commute episodes of The bunkered Podcast first though, won’t you?


author headshot

Alex Perry is the Associate Editor of bunkered. A journalist for more than 20 years, he has been a golf industry stalwart for the majority of his career and, in a five-year spell at ESPN, covered every sporting event you can think of. He completed his own Grand Slam at the 2023 Masters, having fallen in love with the sport at his hometown club of Okehampton and on the links of nearby Bude & North Cornwall.

Associate Editor

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