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The final men’s major of the year. As the ‘big four’ calendar comes to an end, the Open Championship serves as a reminder of why these tickets are so coveted.

A new Champion Golfer will be crowned on Sunday afternoon, and eyes will flicker to the return of the Masters in April, but it will be another year until fans can experience anything like this.

Royal Liverpool, the host of this week’s 151st Open Championship, will welcome 260,000 spectators to Hoylake this week – a new record.

The Wirral event will become the highest-attended Open ever in England, so what is the spectator experience really like?

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The Open Championship spectator experience

While the action might not have really started on the immaculate Hoylake links, fans have started a week they won’t forget.

As anticipation buzzes through Liverpool Lime Street station, it takes little time to work out where the passengers are headed.

Titleist caps and FootJoy pullovers lead the way to Royal Liverpool, around 30 minutes from the city centre, but that’s nothing for some fans who have already crossed the pond.

A seven-hour flight isn’t the longest a fan has travelled to reach the northwest coast of England, but that’s what it took for a pair of golf fans from Pennsylvania.

The Open

Jason and his wife Kelly, 44 and 47, are in town for over a week to tick off the final checkbox on golf’s ‘bucket list’.

“It’s my first time at the Open, and it’s going to be unbelievable. It’s bucket list stuff,” said Jason.

“I’ve seen it all, been to the Masters, US Open a couple of times and the PGA, but getting to see this links-style is just different, I just need to get there.”

It is that magical sense of desperation that is matched by others, who flock from all over the world to avoid missing out.

Exclusive merchandise won’t pass them by either, as the Open shop offers everything from polo shirts to putter covers, and can coolers to dog bowls.

But it has become a staple of the Open week and undoubtedly a crucial part of the overall experience.

The Open

Josh and Kara have jaunted from Arizona in support of Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, graduates of Arizona State University, and wasted little time in breaking the bank.

Kara said: “We did some damage with our Mastercards, it was over £400, and our friends did the same, so between us, we spent just under one thousand pounds.

“That was absolutely part of the plan, we had to. We haven’t even been out on the course yet.”

The links, though, is where the magic truly takes place, and fans won’t miss out placed in the
glorious grandstands or perched on the undulating dunes that line the Liverpool coast.

Every shot can be spotted from somewhere, although struggling to find a space overlooking the stunning par-3 17th or curtain closing par-5 18th highlights the value on offer.

Some punters wouldn’t agree with the price of beer, however. ‘Rough’ was how 22-year-old Alex Watkins summed up the cost of drinking on the course, one of three Englishmen watching on from the ‘Open Arms’.

It had not reached 11 AM, but “straight for the beers,” he said. “We came for a coffee and somehow ended up at the bar.”

But booze-fuelled cries of ‘light the candle’ and ‘mashed potatoes’ will be heard in limited supply over the coming days, a rare occasion of golf fans just enjoying the spectacle playing out before their eyes.

History beckons for the last man standing at Royal Liverpool, set to lift the Claret Jug and etch their story into the annals of the game’s oldest championship. 

And for fans, walking through the fabled gates lifts the lid on a week of golf like no other.

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John Turnbull A graduate of the University of Stirling, John joined the bunkered team in 2023 as a Content Producer, with a responsibility for covering all breaking news, tour news, grassroots content and much more besides. A keen golfer, he plays the majority of his golf at Falkirk Golf Club. Top of his 'bucket list' is a round of Pebble Beach... ideally in the company of Gareth Bale.

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