How the unique storylines of golf’s Majors are helping to keep local courses busy

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick July 14, 2022 09:50

It still surprises many that some of the most historic golf courses on the planet are open to the public.

It means that anyone can walk the hallowed turf and try to recreate famous major-winning shots at the likes of Pebble Beach, Royal Portrush and the Old Course at St Andrews, where the 2022 Open Championship will be held.

Those with an interest in betting on golf will know that Rory McIlroy is the bookmakers’ favourite to lift the Claret Jug at odds of 8/1, and given that few players have the same level of crossover, mainstream appeal as the Irishman, he would prove to be a popular winner.

World number one Scottie Scheffler, the in-form Xander Schauffele and Links golf specialist Jordan Spieth are also prominent in the Open Championship odds, and the hope is that they – or somebody else – delivers a grandstand finish on Sunday, which would be perfect for piquing the interest of sports fans who might not have considered taking to their local course before.

Walking in the shadows of giants

You would expect, in theory at least, that the greater exposure that comes with the majors would facilitate more people either dusting off their clubs for the first time in a while or trying the sport for the first time altogether.

For anyone in Scotland, or willing to travel from further afield, that could mean a trip to St Andrews to emulate the Open Championship field – amazingly, at the time of writing on July 13, anyone could enter the ballot to win a tee time at the home of golf as soon as July 19… just 48 hours after the Open is scheduled to end.

There would surely be no shortage of takers, and especially so given that golf has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity since the start of 2020. According to data from the United States, the number of people playing golf rose to 24.8 million – a considerable increase of some 500,000 from the year previous.

New players, who are defined as absolute beginners or those returning to the sport after a period away, numbered 6.2 million – the highest that number has ever been. The signs are that trend has continued right through until the present day, too.

There’s no doubt that the recent crisis will have played a part in such a rise, but surely it’s no coincidence too that 2019 saw some of the most popular major champions in recent history – who can forget Tiger Woods’ emotional return to the winner’s circle at The Masters, or Shane Lowry’s legendary win on home soil in the 2019 Open Championship?

Those are the sorts of narrative that tend to drive people back to the golf course, and the outcome is that Major weeks and those just after tends to be the busiest at publicly open tracks – especially when there has been a headline-making champion crowned.

The normal rules still apply – if you want to enjoy your local golf course at its quietest, evening tee times on a weekday are generally your best bet, but if Rory can avenge his injury-enforced absence at St Andrews seven years ago by winning the Open in 2022 (or some similarly interesting storyline emerges), you can also be assured that the number of people taking to the tee will increase once again.

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick July 14, 2022 09:50
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