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The Open at Royal Liverpool

by Dave Richards

"I'm not paying 50 quid to get in lad". With those wise words, Swine's Golf Desk set off for the final day of The Open at Royal Liverpool, hoping to see the cream of world golf thinning wedges out of the rough and 4 putting for 9. First stop was a quick bounce round town to purloin some Chindit headgear from Banzai Hats. And some sarnies from Marksies. And some baby wipes to stave off the dreaded Golf Arse. That done we boarded the 11.00AM Merseyrail - Ordinary To Hoylake.

The approach to Royal Liverpool from Hoylake station takes you over the main road via a iron bridge and onto a wide boulevard down to the course. As predicted, a few of the match ticket-brokers were sat off by the bridge and a quick transaction was sorted to get us 2 passes for 20 quid each. For some reason the entrance to the course was manned by the Matrix Unit (possibly on the lookout for the Capone Mob) and they took a keen interest in our tickets before waving us through with a warning to "make sure they are on display at all times". "Yeah right, they're getting smoked later", we didn't say.

Behind the entrance is a crossing over the first fairway and into the main tented village section. We had to wait for an unknown Yank to play through before getting over - unbeknown to us, that was the first and last clear golf shot we were gonna see all day. The tented village was the usual vision of corporate hell that you get at these events, Lexus, RBS, Nikon, Rolex etc. The food stalls were doing fish'n'chips for 6.50, 3.30 for a pint, and loads of golf nazis were sat off by the big screen tucking into grub, beasting the Nikon Babes and comparing the spikes on their shoes - biffs, it's like going the match in mouldies that. Time for a chong, somewhere far away like the 10th. Walking along the front nine we realised that from a spectator point of view Hoylake isn't much cop - it's too flat. Loads of professional golf watchers were walking round with step ladders and crates so getting a decent greenside spec was gonna be impossible. So we decided to doss on top of a sand dune along the 10th fairway, and have a smoke close to a ice cream van and a beer tent.

The spectators seemed to be about 50% locals, maybe 25% assorted British, and then a mixture of nationalities making up the rest. As an Aussie player went through you'd get a pile of Aussies following him, same for the South Africans, Americans and Far Eastern players. Sergio Garcia seemed to have a lot of supporters judging by the number of Spanish footy tops on display - I don't think they belonged to anyone from Iberia though, not unless the bonehead, shorts, slip-on trainees and Argyle socks fashion has caught on over there now as well.

After maybe an hour of sitting off watching sweaty unknowns smash the ball towards the green we figured out that we never had a clue what was going on cos we couldn't actually see the leaderboard, so we decided to go for a mooch round another tented village by the 7th fairway. We spotted Chris Evans stood off having a pint with that Bacon fella who got jibbed from Blue Peter for beak - Evans was cheerily getting mobbed by whoppers with camera phones - a True Showbiz Pro - whereas we just got blanked by Bacon when we whispered to him for a quick go of his bullet. Two stunning looking Emmerdale glamourpusses were in the vicinity as well. They were causing so much droolage that a little firm of old school Laura Davies clone female golf heads had the nark with them and were mobbing up ready to wool them in the bogs. In fact quite a few of the beer tent crowd were looking a bit worse for wear by now, screaming "Get In The Hole" in unison at the giant TV as Woods was teeing off on the 2nd. It was obvious they had jibbed walking the course in favour of getting cabbaged and watching it on the big screen. We decided to get away from them to see if we could go round with Woods/Garcia. As we headed towards the 4th we realised this was a mistake - it was like walking into a stampeding herd of shorts-wearing wilderbeest. The final two games were being watched by huge mobs. People were walking two holes ahead to get a spec, so we turned back to the 11th to sit off there. By the time Woods and Garcia arrived it was 5 deep along the fairway. You could see him twat it but you had no idea where it ended up unless the crowd cheered or groaned. At this point we bumped into a "now then long time no see" match chum and did a bit of catching up on the old gang - rockhead, married, bin bagged, jail, on the run, 2 kids, banned from the game, dead. Funnily enough, by the time we finished our little chat we had plenty of room to see all the action - scientists call it the "Palestinian On The Bus" effect, I believe. It was still a cack spec though so we ended up jumping to the 14th for a bit to see precisely fuck all, and then made our way to the 18th to try and get a view of the final green.

The 18th was absolutely chocker. We got in front of one of the temporary stands right next to the green and it must have been 10 deep at least. All the proles in front of the temporary stand were getting rowdy as the place filled to bursting point - the elderley tartan blanket crones who had perched in the stands all day looked puce as the heckling got worse. I half expected a pitch invasion, or at the very least a streaker, so it was no surprise when some Fathers For Justice mush got on and paint bombed the green. The Aussie fella next to me (about 3 cm away) agreed that it would have been better if he'd handcuffed himself to the pin flag. Then he could have been led away for a great photo op. Still it was funny to see the Armed Response Unit on mopping up duties - "Take the Squeegee off safety - I repeat, SQUEEGEE OFF SAFETY, OVER". 

Woods arrived for the coronation, one girls shout of 'I LOVE YOU TIGER' was swiftly followed by a broad scouse 'FUCKIN SHUT IT BINT' which even shocked our Aussie friend. I managed to see his left elbow as he holed out, and we decided to bail before he got the jug so we could get the train handy. One last bit of "souvenirs for e-bay" gathering on the way out went west as the greenskeepers wouldn't part with their official Open boilersuits, the course marshalls fucked us off for the "QUIET PLEASE" signs and the parasol we lifted turned out to have no "Open" branding on it at all - it was just a blue parasol, bastard. It was probably for the best though as just by the course exit the Matrix had pulled in loads of urchins who were walking out with 12 foot high signposts, microphone booms, scoreboards, buggys, sponsors caravans, that sort of thing. Luckily there was a train waiting on the platform and we were back in town by 7.10, happy days.

Overall, the R&A, Wirral Council, Liverpool Council (gegging in), the tourist board, Radio Merseyside, The Daily Post and Echo etc were all overjoyed with the event. I suppose you could call it a success as the crowds were huge, the infrastructure held up, the weather was unbelievable, a great champion won, and no-one got shot. But if you actually wanted to see some golf it was a waste of time - it's not a patch on Royal Birkdale with its giant sand dunes offering panoramic views of 5 holes at a time. It was just about worth 20 nicker though, if only for the privilege of being able to shout "YOUDAMAN" through a haze of chong smoke at fat arse Calcevecchia - not for any golfing he did mind you, but cos he had his missus lugging a hundredweight of clubs round for him in Burma Railroad conditions. Well played sir.

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