Oh man do I have a treat to post today! Below is an online interview I did with my friend John Boyne about the British Open (I mean the “Open Championship”). John is a caddy at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and many other courses in Scotland. (John is pictured here with a Hooked On Golf Blog – The Golf Space pocket golf towel at The Old Course!)
John Runs Caddie Golf Tours at www.caddiegolftours.com and provides people with great golf vacations to Scotland. When it comes time for ME to cash in all those frequent flier miles, I’ll be flying straight to St. Andrews to have John show me around!
Enough of an intro! Here’s the interview:
Have you caddied at Carnoustie?
Yes. Over the last five years I have caddied at Carnoustie during the Dunhill Links Championship. It is the last big money purse on the European Tourâ€¦Â£450,000 or approximately $1 million dollars. It is held in the first week of October over Carnoustie, the Kingsbarns Links & the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Have you caddied for anyone famous at Carnoustie?
In the golfing world the answer is no. The tournament is a similar to the Bob Hope, a Pro/Am, and I have been looking after a couple of guys from the West Coast of the US that have requested me through various routesâ€¦.they are amateurs, with a good game and they want to play the great Scottish links golf courses with the pros and with a caddie they can trust, may I add. During this tournament my fourball has included Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, VJ Singh, Trevor Immelman, Thomas Byorn, Ian Poulter and last week’s winner at Loch Lomond Gregory Harvet.
Give us an overview of Carnoustie
This is a fabulous golf course. It is a difficult golf course. Not a true â€œlinksâ€ as it is set quite a bit back from the sea but the wind from the estuary can be ridiculously strong over this relative flat area and this is where Carnoustie can get itâ€™s main defense. The wind always blows at Carnoustie.
It is usually quite â€˜lushâ€™ in comparison to other Open Championship venues and with the rain weâ€™ve had over the last three weeks this may help a wee bit on the greens, stopping the ball. Getting the ball on the green is the great challenge, it may be easier if you have managed to find the right spot on the fairway! Strategy from the tee is paramount at Carnoustie.
Originally laid out in 1842 by St. Andrews professional Alan Robertson, Old Tom Morris altered and expanded the layout to eighteen holes and finally, in 1926, the five times Open Champion James Braid changed the course, adding more bunkers, new tees, and greens resulting in a course ready to host an Open Championship.
The winners list from Carnoustie is one of true legends and heroes: Tommy Armour (â€™31); Henry Cotton (â€™37); Ben Hogan (â€™53); Gary Player (â€™68); Tom Watson (â€™75) and the Scot Paul Lawrie in 1999 who has never been given the credit for his great 67 on the final day and then the birdie birdie finish during the playoff with Van de Velde and Justin Leonard.
What kind of shots from the tee and fairways will have to be played?
From the tee strategic placement of the ball in the correct part of the fairway for that days pin placement will be crucial. Drivers will be used as this is the longest Open Venue at 7,421 yards and as it is usually breezy/windy at Carnoustie medium to long irons will be played into the greens. There are never more than two holes played back to back with the same wind which can create a lot of second thoughts on club selection.
Tells us about the greens
The greens run true at Carnoustie and have some rather obvious breaks on them but it is the subtle ones that I have difficulty with as I can remember being taken by surprise on more than one occasion, especially on the first! Not as large as St. Andrews there is one double green at the 4th and 14th.
The rain has been falling over the last three weeks and again on Mondayâ€™s practice day so they should be receptive at this moment. The forecast looks reasonable for the next few days with some drying winds that hopefully speed them up. They will not be anything like last years at Hoylake (Royal Liverpool) when Tiger won. Carnoustie is a lot more than a putting contest.
What kind of player should do well?
Without stating the obvious someone who can consistently find the fairway and then produce some superlative iron play through a clear strategy will compete for the Claret Jug on Sunday.
What kind of player will not do well?
Those with a high ball flight will have difficulty as they are unlikely to consistently find the fairway at Carnoustie if there is any kind of wind.
Who is the Dark Horse?
For me I really want to believe that a European can win the bloody thing this year. They play on it every year during early October in the Dunhill Links so it really should not present anything untoward.
If we take Tiger (there is only one) out of the equation my tips are the Englishman Ian Poulter and the great unsung American Jim Furyk.
A few guys have been mentioning Boo Weekley but as this his first trip out of the USA it would be a big ask.
I hope that they give us a great tournament and that this superb golf course shows what it has without being â€˜tricked upâ€™. Enjoy guys.
Many thanks to my pal John!
You can visit John’s Golf Space profile and see a bunch of pictures of St. Andrews, Paula Creamer and lots of other cool stuff: