The Open To Go Full Phoenix?
The R&A is said to be considering radical changes to this year’s 150th Open Championship over the Old Course at St Andrews following the Waste Management Phoenix Open, according to a source.
The source, who did not wish to be named, said the Championship Committee has arranged an extraordinary meeting this week to discuss how the Open Championship can emulate the success of the latest PGA Tour event. One committee member is alleged to have spent the hours following Scottie Scheffler’s maiden PGA Tour win producing a discussion paper entitled: “How the Open Championship can rise from the Phoenix ashes.”
The R&A and the Championship Committee have spent countless hours planning the 150th version of golf’s greatest tournament. Those plans are in danger of being thrown into the gusts that sweep across the West Sands if the committee member’s suggestions are heeded.
I was fortunate to be sent a sneak preview of the agenda for the extraordinary Championship Committee meeting. Here are the discussion points.
The Tom Morris Cauldron of Fire
The first and 18th holes of St Andrews Opens already feel like a roman amphitheatre with the first tee and 18th stands complementing the elegant buildings running down the right of the 18th hole. However, the Phoenix Ashes document argues for the governing body to emulate the 16th hole of the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale. There is scope for the opening and home holes to become completely enclosed with corporate boxes, pubs, cafes, restaurants and strip bars instead of traditional seating. The enhanced arena will be entitled “The Tom Morris Cauldron of Fire,” the words emblazoned around the arena in traditional R&A blue lettering, in keeping with the 18th hole’s Tom Morris appellation.
Fireworks could be included on the Old Course’s first hole, with spurting flames set off when players arrive on the first tee, similar to the flames set off pitch side before Six Nations rugby matches. Shooting flames will also greet red numbers made on the final hole.
Music might be played continuously in the Tom Morris Cauldron to keep fans in upbeat mood. The sounds of Queen’s "We Will Rock You" could be reverberating around the auld grey toon this July.
Make noise signs
Quiet signs could be replaced with make noise boards. The words "Make Noise" will adorn one side while the reverse will alternate between “Mashed Potato” and “Babba Boey.” Marshals will be instructed to wave these boards when competitors putt during this year's championship, in much the same way home fans make noise in NFL games when visiting teams face third down conversions.
The Phoenix paper suggests scope for increased beer sales at this year’s Open Championship, with the possibility of the governing body attracting a major beer sponsor, sorry, make that patron, to invest in the championship. Guinness would almost certainly be ruled out because beer cans sold at this year’s Open should be coloured R&A blue with the letters "R&Ale" in bold print featured on the cans.
Brand beer awareness
Obviously, given the millions of hits beer can throwing scenes at the Waste Management received on social media, the R&A could encourage fans in the Tom Morris Cauldron to throw R&Ale cans onto the 18th green to celebrate players making birdies. “Imagine the brand awareness from that action alone,” the source said
Birdie and bare it
Players will be encouraged to tear off their shirts and bare their chests upon making birdie putts on the home hole throughout the championship. The committee is considering special invitations to PGA Tour players Harry Higgs and Joel Dahmen to encourage players to bare all at the Home of Golf this summer.
Rent a crowd
Finally, the Phoenix paper proposes the loudest and drunkest fans from the recent Waste Management tournament’s 16th hole should receive free weekly passes and paid all expenses to attend this year’s championship. That way the exuberance shown this past weekend can more readily be passed on to traditional Open galleries.
What was expected to be a glorious celebration of the 150th running of The Open could arguably become an even greater spectacle, and set the tone for Open Championships for decades to come.
Exciting times for this auld game of gowf.
“It’ll still be the Open Championship, but just not as we know it,’” the source said.
Funny old game.
#JustSaying: “Shame on yer! Booing an’ cheering like that … Would ya do that in yon kirk! “ Local caddie Tam Chisholm chiding fans during the 1885 St Andrews Open
Photograph: Tim Roberts Photography via Shutterstock