Picture above: Talented golfer and Hollywood Film Star Kathryn Newton encouraging every child she could find to get into playing golf.
Royal Liverpool’s Paul Shaw blogs from the 151st Open
Practice Days are all about- you’ve guessed it - practice. Not just for the players, but also for the club and the huge number of volunteers who have come together to make this the greatest week of golf.
Sunday, the first and quietest day of the week, was a great chance to settle into your role and figure out how things are going to work.
That means running through the 2014 checklist to make sure nothing of value has been forgotten, but also embracing the inevitable change over the intervening nine years. The Open is evolving, it's bigger, more secure and more online. Download all the apps, test out sharing a ticket, find out where your credentials can take you. All great practice so when the bigger crowds appear you are ready to go.
For the vast number of marshals from our local friendly neighbourhood golf clubs the morning was quiet, but the new Open Invitational format of the afternoon, with a group of enthusiastic amateur golfers from other sports, film, TV and social media, was a chance to practise moving an energetic crowd around the links, ideal to get the lay of the land without too much pressure…although some slightly errant shots led to unusual roping requirements unlikely to be repeated later in the week.
The club’s media team familiarised itself with the new Media Centre, and then set off in search of a story or two. As it happened one of the main tasks of the day was to help the NBC Sports TV team with their own practice ahead of the many hours of commentary this week.
What started with ‘is there any history about the club you would like to share?’ ended almost four hours later after an in depth tour of the clubhouse and some of the changes to the links since 2014. We need little encouragement to pour out more than 150 years of firsts, incidents and stories that will soon be joined by another week’s worth of instant history.
‘With Hoylake member Matthew Jordan in the field, has there ever been a Hoylake member win on home turf before?’
‘Let me tell you about Harold Horsefall Hilton…’
@RLGCHoylake’s Paul Shaw with TV presenter Rich Lerner from NBC
And so back to the players' practice. I saw something for the first time in 15 years as a member, when reigning Champion Cameron Smith played a high flop shot over a bunker, down a 20 mph wind, and managed to apply spin back towards the hole. I still can’t figure out how it happened.
Cameron Smith dazzling the crowd on the practise chipping green
250 miles away one of his closest competitors, and reigning ‘Hoylake Champion’ Rory McIlroy, was practising closing out a massive win, birdieing the last two holes at the Scottish Open in fierce conditions to float into Open Championship week on a cloud of momentum.
The roar in the clubhouse showed just how popular a birdie-birdie finish at the new 17-18 final stretch would be for the members of Royal Liverpool.
Green and pheasant land - Rory on his way to victory in 2014