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The 151st Open

Forged by nature


The Open is links golf. And links golf is The Open

An aerial view of Royal Portrush Golf Club

It takes a certain type of player to master links golf.

Natural talent allied with practise and perfect application are simply not enough to tame the original – and most unique – form of the sport.

Temperament, adaptability and the nous to play in all weather conditions are just as important as ball striking and putting.

Links courses are intricately tied to nature. They are, quite literally, the link between the sea and the land – and so open that any type of weather can arrive and wreak havoc.

These special venues, on which The Open has been played since 1860, have long been synonymous with blustery winds, torrential rain and bright sunshine; each causing a different set of problems.

And as The R&A unveil a new brand for The Open ahead of the 151st Championship, centred around the elements, we hear from an elite golfer who fell in love with the game by playing in these terrific coastal regions.

Rory McIlroy (right) in the rain

Rory (right) in the rain at Royal Portrush in 2019

“It’s a treat to play links golf because we don’t get to do it that often anymore,” said Rory McIlroy, Champion Golfer at Royal Liverpool in 2014 and runner-up at Carnoustie four years later.

“If you have a soft links course with not a lot of wind; they’re so old that they’re quite defenceless.

“So I think everyone loves to play links the way they were designed to be played; fast, firm, burnt out, bit of wind.

“Having to use your imagination a little bit, because if you get a benign day on a links and it’s sort of soft, it’s just the same as playing any parkland golf course; you play the ball up in the air and the ball stops.”

Rory McIlroy (right) on the fairway at St Andrews

Grass is usually green - but that's not always the case on a links course

He continued: “I love when links courses just get that little bit of a yellow tinge and they get that burnt out look. That’s what real links golf is.

“I feel that’s a proper Open Championship.”

On a links course, every hole is made new as the wind and weather shifts. And it has been this way since the first golfers placed the first tees into the ground.

The ancient strips of turf between shore and sea created the incredible golf courses where the sport began and now thrives.

It is the land that shapes a links course, not the other way round. This is what makes links golf uniquely timeless.

This is The Open. Forged by nature.

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