FROM THE EDITOR
OCTOBER 2018 / ISSUE 11 / VOL 59
‘After an at-times farcical US Open, golf needed an exciting, well-run Open... but a vulnerable Carnoustie needed it more’
As it always does, Carnoustie delivered a drama-laden Open Championship, a leaderboard packed with star names and a great and worthy winner.
As he has done all year, Francesco Molinari played incredibly consistent golf over the four days and thoroughly deserved his victory. Playing the final two rounds without dropping a shot has to be one of the greatest achievements in major history. Going bogey-free round Carnoustie is impressive at the best of times, but Molinari did it while coping with all of the extra hustle, bustle and fanfare that comes with playing alongside Tiger Woods. On numerous occasions during the final round, the Italian had to putt out while fans stampeded to the next hole to get in position to see his more illustrious partner tee off. Never once did Molinari look flustered, frustrated or show any signs of agitation. Besides great ball-striking, a tidy short game and solid putting, his victory was a masterclass in composure.
Despite the unusually dry summer and adverse weather conditions, Carnoustie was presented in fantastic condition throughout the week. Although there was plenty of discussion and debate online and on social media about the state of the hard, running brown fairways, hardly a single negative word about the course set-up was uttered by the players. One would have to say that, from a purely golfing perspective, the 2018 Open was very successful.
That said, Carnoustie’s status as an Open venue is far from certain. Like any major sporting event these days, the Open Championship is big business and has the potential to generate huge revenues. Heading into the week, there were rumours the R&A had given Carnoustie the ultimatum of delivering a record-breaking attendance or risk losing its slot on the rota. While the R&A has not publicly commented on the topic, it is well known that attendances at Carnoustie are somewhat lower than at other, more accessible and arguably more aesthetically pleasing Open links. Carnoustie attracted around 170,000 fans during the week; a St Andrews Open will see 250,000 come through the turnstiles. From a ticket, food and beverage and merchandising revenue perspective, that’s a shortfall of at least £10 million. At a time when golf needs as much financial support as possible from the game’s governing body to help fund participation initiatives and growth programs across the country, revenues from the Open are more important than ever.
A Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy victory might well have sealed the deal for Carnoustie; but hopefully having so many of the world’s top players in contention will have delivered the attendance and, in turn, the revenues the R&A will have wanted from the week. For everything that Carnoustie has brought and continues to bring to the table, it deserves a permanent place on the Open rota.