The Open of­fers unique fan view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Tim Dahlberg Stu­art Franklin, Getty Im­ages IS THAT RE­ALLY SUP­POSED TO BE A SHIP? At first glance the Royal Birk­dale

SOUTH­PORT, ENG­LAND» The Bri­tish Open is not only golf’s long­est run­ning ma­jor cham­pi­onship, it’s also the most quirky. Sim­ply put, it’s like noth­ing you’ll see any other week in the largely cookie cut­ter world of tour­na­ment golf.

Not to worry, for those tun­ing in and won­der­ing what they’re see­ing. Here’s a guide to things you’ll need to know:

IT’S THE OPEN: Never mind that there are hun­dreds of tour­na­ments that use the word “Open.” This is the Bri­tish ver­sion — and the oldest of all the Opens — but it seems a bit pre­sump­tu­ous that the Royal & An­cient re­fuses to call it any­thing but The Open. Former cham­pion Nick Faldo joked re­cently that the name will soon be short­ened to just “The” to re­ally dra­ma­tize the im­por­tance of the event.

SOD BUNKERS: At most tour­na­ment cour­ses you see week af­ter week, bunkers are lit­tle more than a mi­nor ir­ri­tant to play­ers, as ev­i­denced by the sand shot Jor­dan Spi­eth holed to win a play­off a few weeks ago at the Travel­ers Cham­pi­onship. Here, the bunkers have sod walls that look a lot like what set­tlers on the Great Plains once used to build makeshift houses. Ex­pect a few play­ers to spend enough time in them that they could build their own homes.

SIL­VER­SMITH: Only at The Open is there a sil­ver­smith on site, ready to en­grave the new cham­pion’s name on the tro­phy. You will see him move into ac­tion late in Sun­day’s fi­nal round, in­sert­ing yet an­other name on the claret jug that may be golf’s small­est — and most un­usual — tro­phy. Don’t be sur­prised if he is se­cretly root­ing for Jon Rahm in­stead of Phachara Khong­wat­mai.

CROWD FRIENDLY: There are 14,000 seats in grand­stands spread across the course, in­clud­ing the huge ones fram­ing the 18th green. Un­like many tour­na­ments that pan­der to the cor­po­rate elite, the Bri­tish Open ac­tu­ally en­cour­ages fans to watch the golf up close and per­sonal. The stands will be filled, with 220,000 peo­ple ex­pected.

TALK­ING WEATHER: The Scots like to say “Nae wind, nae rain, nae golf,” and the coast of north­west Eng­land is close enough to Scot­land for that say­ing to ap­ply here. The course was closed late Wednes­day af­ter­noon in ex­pec­ta­tion of a big storm, and there will surely be enough rain and wind the rest of the week to make things in­ter­est­ing.

YEL­LOW BOARD: The man­u­ally op­er­ated yel­low leader­boards that tower over the grand­stands on the 18th green are a throw­back, much like the score­boards at Wrigley Field or Fen­way Park. On Sun­day, they will fea­ture the tra­di­tional “Well done” trib­ute to the win­ner, along with “See You at Carnoustie in 2018.”

PHIL’S LOVE: It’s be­come an an­nual rite at the Bri­tish Open. Phil Mick­el­son ar­rives, de­clares his love for all things links golf and sets off on yet an­other ad­ven­ture. This time he’ll be do­ing it with­out his cad­die of 25 years, Jim “Bones” Mackay. club­house looks like some­thing that would bet­ter be­long in a tawdry seaside amuse­ment park like Black­pool just north of here. It’s ac­tu­ally an art deco de­sign from 1935 that is sup­posed to look some­thing like a ship go­ing out to sea. For bet­ter or worse, it tow­ers over the 18th green and fig­ures to get a lot of TV time.

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