THE R&A | THE OPEN
I doubt I’ll be the only one, but for someone who hasn’t camped since completing the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award in High School, say the word ‘campsite’ and thoughts turn to being up to your knees in mud at T in the Park.
After heavy rain throughout most of Friday and a little bit again on Saturday, when taking the 20-minute walk from the media centre up to Marr Rugby Club – the campsite’s location – on Sunday morning, I’ve got to admit that I wasn’t expecting it to be up to much.
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And neither were the people I spoke to at the site as they were packing their bags and preparing for the final day’s play at Royal Troon. But we were all wrong. Completely wrong.
Duncan Stewart from Aberdeenshire, who was there with his wife and six-year-old twin sons, said: “I wasn’t expecting it to be this good. It was brilliant and I really hope they do it every year. When you see the prices for accommodation – to be honest it’s disgraceful – and when I found out about this, it sounded perfect.
"There was a really nice vibe throughout the week" - Tom Critchley
“Sure, there were some young lads drinking and making a wee bit of noise but if I was their age, I’d be doing the exact same thing. In all honesty, I’d give it a 9.999 out of 10. The only wee thing is that there wasn’t a drying room – but I’d hardly call that a complaint.”
But every other facility was on offer. The 166 tents were provided with an inflatable airbed and lantern, toilets and showers were within a comfortable walking distance and the Marr Rugby Club clubhouse had a bar, beer garden and served food – including a full Scottish breakfast. And not forgetting the pamper room, full of mirrors and sockets and branded the campsite’s ‘social hub’.
And there were loads of activities on offer as well in the shape of two 5-a-side football pitches, a volleyball net and a golf chipping challenge. Considering the R&A only announced there would be a campsite at Troon in late April, the governing body has left no stone unturned in creating a hugely positive experience for all which, after the success here, promises to be bigger and better at Royal Birkdale next year.
“There was a really nice vibe throughout the week,” said Tom Critchley, the Open campsite coordinator. “At the end of the day, when people were coming back from the golf, the kids would come in and grab a football from us and by 11pm, we were having to go out and tell them to bring us the balls back!”
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“We’ve had people from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, USA, Spain, Germany – and those are only the guys I’ve met. So everyone’s come here, met up, drank in the bar together and then gone to the nightclubs together. It’s been great and we only had one complaint for noise which was fantastic.
“We’ve had a great mix of students, families and young groups and a lot of people have said to me that they hadn’t thought about coming and weren’t going to do it until they saw this. So yeah, there’s been a lot of positivity and it looks like it’ll certainly be returning at Birkdale next year.”
As I walked back to the media centre, I caught up with a similarly enthused camper Simon Green, who was staying there with his friend John and son Alfie.
“We’re already looking to do it next year,” he said. “I’ve done camping before but this was the next step up.
“They catered for everything. Normally you go to some places and it’s just a tent in a field with some portacabins and you’ve got to sort yourself out. But here they had food, as well as 5-a-side football goals, a volleyball net and other activites for the kids. It was fantastic.”
The Open campsite :: Your thoughts
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