R&A comes under fire for re-entry ban at the Open
CARNOUSTIE: Fears that local businesses may suffer if visiting fans decide not to leave the links
Golf’s governing body has been criticised for failure to axe its ‘no readmissions’ policy at next year’s Open in Carnoustie.
The policy was introduced at this year’s Open at Royal Birkdale and Angus Council pursued the issue with the R&A after concerns were raised that businesses in Carnoustie would suffer if the policy was retained next year.
The R&A said the admissions policy has been “reviewed and updated” after being assessed following the conclusion of the tournament and fans “will not be permitted to re-enter the venue after leaving Carnoustie”.
The golf authority said the no readmissions policy was among steps being taken “to protect golf fans from the mis-selling of tickets and hospitality products by unofficial operators” at Carnoustie.
Carnoustie Community Development Trust (CCDT) will approach the business community and other local groups and stakeholders “to explore what we can do together to make up for the no readmissions policy”.
CCDT chairman Derek Miller said: “It is, indeed, disappointing that the R&A has decided to repeat the no readmissions policy when the Open returns to Carnoustie next year.
“Local businesses will be disappointed by the lack of opportunity to benefit from the Open spectators while the play is on each day, but that just makes it all the more important that we explore and exploit every other benefit we can extract.”
He said there are also investigations under way into what can be done to make sure that “spectators have a reason to linger in Carnoustie for a while at the end of each day’s play”.
Carnoustie Independent councillor David Cheape suggested the policy goes against the R&A’s emphasis on “encouraging junior golf”.
He said: “I am disappointed with the outcome.
“Visitors will not be allowed to re-enter if they choose to leave the course and tented village venue at any time to take advantage of Carnoustie’s retail offer.
“Many of the food and beverage establishments in town have been looking forward to this event for some time.
“Similarly, it means Carnoustie’s own residents will not be able to pop home for lunch.
“Parents with young children who might wish to take their family along to the golf in the morning and return themselves in the afternoon will be unable to do so. How does that promote golf to youngsters?”
Bill Bowman, Conservative MSP for the North East region, said it was disappointing the R&A were sticking “with a policy which may reduce the obvious financial benefits to the wider town”.
He said: “I don’t believe that is in the spirit of helping the community you play in.”
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, executive director – championships at the R&A, said it was “an absolute priority” to protect customers from rogue hospitality operators and the mis-selling of tickets.
He said: “We will be working with the local authorities, including Angus Council, to ensure that fraud prevention measures are in place and that local businesses are made aware so that they don’t fall victim to mis-selling practices.
“The no readmission policy introduced at Royal Birkdale also proved an effective deterrent to these unofficial operators and was well received by more than 235,000 spectators who attended the Championship.”
Fans turned up in big numbers when the Open was held at Carnoustie in 1999. Locals fear the R&A’s no re-entry rule will leave many spectators unable to sample the delights on offer in the Angus town when the Championship returns to the course next year.