Why you should go to a women’s golf competition

Why you should go to a women’s golf competition

Women's golf competition - Ricoh Women's British Open at Kingsbarns - umbrellas

The weather was gorgeous, apart from when it poured with rain

I just got back from the Ricoh Women’s British Open held at Kingsbarns, in Scotland. I had an amazing few days playing at Scotscraig Golf Club, Fairmont St Andrews and Lundin Ladies (review to follow) and obviously watching the best female players in the world battle it out. This article from Harriet Shephard says that it was awesome, and it was. This is the third big women’s golf competition I’ve been to after the Solheim Cup in Germany two years ago and the Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale Golf Club, also two years ago. I’m already planning my next two, which will be the Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes next year and the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in 2019. Why do I love going to a top women’s golf competition so much?

It’s cheap

My four-day ticket cost me £62. That’s £15.50 a day to watch my favourite sport performed at the top level. And the golf really is amazing. You can choose to follow a player you particularly like, or to stay put next to a green and watch different players attempt to get close to the pin. You can pick a nice hill where you can keep on eye on what’s happening on two holes at the same time. You can even choose the comfort of a stand for a while. However you choose to do it, you get an awful lot of golf for your money.

Active spectating

Women's golf competition - Ricoh Women's British Open at Kingsbarns - beach

Quick break on the beach

I’m not a great spectator. I don’t really like sitting in the same place for too long, so watching golf is perfect for me. You’re free (within certain limits) to roam as much as you like in a beautiful environment. And the Kingdom of Fife, where Kingsbarns is, is absolutely stunning. Everywhere you looked there was glorious countryside and, of course, the sea. It’s a links course, so the beach was right there. I estimate that we walked around 10 miles each day, without really realising it. You soon forget that you’re walking for miles when you witness a beautiful chip or a crisp fairway shot every few minutes.


You never have to fight to get a good view of the action


Women's golf competition - Ricoh Women's British Open at Kingsbarns - spectators

A great view from everywhere

Now I’m pretty tall, but anyone over 5’3” will block my view. This is why a women’s golf competition is perfect for me. They don’t get the huge crowds that men’s events get and so you’re always guaranteed a great view, even when you’re watching popular players like Charley Hull. No fighting to gain or retain a nice viewing spot. Everyone is completely relaxed. On the third day, I.K. Kim just missed us with a wayward second shot and the ball landed a few feet from us. If it had been a men’s event, a swarm of spectators would have immediately rushed to surround the ball and I wouldn’t have been able to see what happened next. There, the dozen or so people who were around were able stay where they were and witness the exchange she had with her caddie and her shot from very close up. After she asked us quite anxiously whether she’d hit anyone, of course.


Ricoh Women's British Open at Kingsbarns - Yani Tseng

Yani Tseng

You can get really close to the players

I haven’t worshipped a sports person since Cantona was King of Manchester, so this isn’t a massive draw for me. Although that’s not entirely true: I was all starry-eyed when none other than Suzann Pettersen, my rules teacher, walked right past me only five minutes after I’d arrived. There is no huge security and the players aren’t herded around away from the spectators. They walk with them, through them, as if they were normal people. Considering how high the stakes are for a competition of this magnitude, they all seem incredibly relaxed. Before and after the rounds, spectators were having photos taken with players all over the place. So you can really indulge your stalking tendencies. The atmosphere is very, very relaxed and while focused, the players are friendly.



Women's golf competition - Kingsbarns

I had to buy it

It’s golf geek heaven

You’re on one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. Everyone is wearing golf clothes. Everyone is talking about golf. You can buy golf equipment, try golf clubs, play golf games. I walked around wearing my golf hat with my ball marker on the visor and that was completely normal. I bumped into a golf journalist I follow on Twitter (hello Matt!) and he advised me to run the coastal path from Kingsbarns to St Andrews (I didn’t) and to visit the local distillery (I did). They make gin with hickory, which is the wood golf clubs used to be made of. I caught up with golfing friends from home I don’t see very often. Everyone loves golf. It’s just wonderful.



The best brownies I’ve ever had


Women's golf competition - brownies at Kingsbarns

Reader, I tried them all


Playing James Braid courses while at the Women’s Open

Playing James Braid courses while at the Women’s Open

Next week I’m off to Scotland to watch the Women’s Open at Kingsbarns Golf Links and of course, I will be taking my clubs to the Home of Golf. Brighton and Hove Golf Club is a member of the Association of James Braid Courses, which has over 300 member clubs of the some 411 courses James Braid either designed originally or altered (of the 411, 39 are defunct and 6 were plans only). James Braid won the Open five times (1901, 1905, 1906, 1908 and 1910) and designed many courses around the UK and even one in the States, the Saint Andrews in New York State.

As a member of Brighton & Hove GC, I get a discount on all the courses that are members of the association, so I had a little look at where I could play while in Saint Andrews:


James Braid courses around Saint AndrewsThe one just above St Andrews is Scotscraig Golf Club and we get 50% off the green fee, so £35 instead of £70. It’s the world’s 13th oldest golf club and a “unique mix of heathland and links”. It sounds like my ideal type of course, so it would be rude not to.

There are two at the bottom of the map: Scoonie Golf Club and Lundin Ladies Golf Club. Lundin Ladies is the oldest women’s club in the Scotland AND it has standing stones on the second fairway. I mean, how could I possibly resist? Also, the green fee is £8 for members of the James Braid Association. It’s a no brainer.

The one furthest up the coast on the map is Arbroath Golf Links. Again, the green fee is £18 with a 50% discount. It looks like a classic Scottish Links course and we can stop at Carnoustie on the way. Honestly, there are so many famous golf courses in that area. I can’t wait. Now, back to work so I can actually pay for all this golfy fun.

Is your golf course a member of the Association of James Braid courses? Check out the map below, created by yours truly on a boring rainy January day. The Braid Course List 2017 includes details on discounts and playing times. Enjoy!


Map of American Golf free competitions

Map of American Golf free competitions

This year again, American Golf are organising free events throughout the UK. Sadly I won’t be able to compete in the Ladies’ championship again as there are no regional competitions in the South (does Slough count as South?) However, I highly recommend entering it if you’re near Pontnewydd Golf Club, Hexham Golf Club, Peebles Golf Club, Roganstown Golf & Country Club, Didsbury Golf Club and Wexham Park Golf Centre. Indeed, qualification at these regional competitions earns you a great prize and two nights all expenses paid at The Belfry to compete in the national final. What I liked best about the whole thing? The professional photographers. They will take photos where you look like a proper golfer, even when you’re playing your most abject golf. I know from experience.

Lady golfers on the green during an American Golf competition

Having a nightmare round, but looking good and that’s the main thing


Another American Golf event I’m interested in is the Golf Show at the Excel Arena in London. I have no idea what to expect, but it involves a train journey and it’s about golf, so I’ll probably love it.

Map of the various American Golf competitions

Click on the icon on the top left of the map, then on the check marks to view the 8 different competitions individually.