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History of The Open

'Golf was groovy'


Exclusive 'DUEL' film showcases golf embracing 1970s pop culture

Sean Connery with a set of golf clubs

“I’m not sure they were the best clothes to play golf in,” laughed Ben Crenshaw, one of golf’s dedicated followers of fashion in the hip and happening 1970s.

In the decade of disco and dancing, bell bottom trousers, turtleneck jumpers and wide-collared shirts were all the rage on Carnaby Street – and they soon found their way onto the golf course too.

Crenshaw, Doug Sanders and two-time Champion Golfer Lee Trevino were among the trendsetters in a sport that was suddenly the epitome of cool.

A-listers such as Clint Eastwood, Bing Crosby and Sean Connery (above) were swapping champagne for sand wedges as Hollywood became gripped by golf.

“Golf was part of the golden era in the 1970s,” concurred broadcaster Cara Banks.

“America in the ‘70s was certainly a place of change and I think we saw that in the clothes the golfers wore at the time,” said Banks’ NBC colleague Mike Tirico.

Golf’s transformation from conservative to cool is captured beautifully in DUEL, the most recent masterpiece from R&A Films, in partnership with Rolex.

Released in the build-up to this year's Open at Royal Liverpool, DUEL is a 47-minute film which puts a modern spin on golf’s greatest battle; the Duel in The Sun.

DUEL retells the story of The 106th Open – the titanic tussle between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson in 1977 – by interweaving rich archive footage with contemporary animated scenes.

With contributions from the two main protagonists, modern-day stars such as Jon Rahm and Rickie Fowler, as well as leading golf personalities, DUEL is a documentary not to be missed.

An animation of Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson in Duel in the Sun

People in Britain still talk of the long, hot summer of 1976. But revellers were still basking in sunshine 12 months later, and that was certainly the case in Turnberry in July 1977.

In scenes reminiscent of Woodstock, thousands of scantily-clad spectators flocked to a blisteringly hot final day of The 106th Open to find out which golfing great would get their hands on the Claret Jug.

Neck-and-neck, streets ahead of the field, Nicklaus vs Watson was the hottest ticket in town, and some 20,000 fans – shirts off, sun hats on – followed their every move.

The cool cats of the 1970s were captivated by a new kind of festival.

Crowds at The Open in 1977

In 1977, golf was the new Glastonbury

Despite the scorching heat and the pressure of the contest, Nicklaus was a fashionista to the last, refusing to discard his yellow sweater atop a trendy wide-collared shirt.

Watson opted for a lighter approach; a fern green t-shirt that wouldn’t have been out of place on the catwalks of Milan or Madrid.

Little did they know then, but the bright colours donned by these two Open greats that day will be ingrained on the game of golf forever.

Tom Watson (left) and Jack Nicklaus during the Duel in the Sun in 1977.

Watson and Nicklaus: trendy, towering and timeless

DUEL is available exclusively to members of The One Club, a free-to-join community which brings golf fans closer to The Open, and is the latest offering from R&A Films, in partnership with Rolex, following on from 'SEVE. Artist. Fighter. Legend' and our highly regarded 'Chronicles of a Champion Golfer' series.