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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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