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The R&A wants golf Open

The R&A wants golf Open

The 149th Open Championships are gearing up to go head in July. Despite remaining questions around the practicalities of play, the Royal St George’s Golf Club in Kent and the R&A are planning for spectators.

The pandemic has placed the Open on hold over the last year whilst other large competitions have gone ahead, whilst making schedule changes. With the approach of the 149th Open, the R&A is determined for competitive play to resume and remain open to spectators.

The Chief executive of the R&A, Martin Slumbers was emphatic in expressing his want for the Open to return to some kind of normality: “We are certainly planning to stage The Open, but clearly, at this point in time, there are multiple possible scenarios.

“We remain hopeful that spectators will be permitted… if health and safety protocols allow. We are working with the government and health authorities, and it’s certainly a lot more complex than staging a normal Open Championship. But we are going to do everything we possibly can to put on a great championship for the country.”

Against the backdrop of the government’s upcoming decision on whether to allow players back in March, R&A executives have been outspoken about the physical and psychological benefits of golf. It is felt the return of spectators to competitions like the Open would be a well-needed boost to the wellbeing of golf enthusiasts across the UK.

“I think there’s a very good possibility we will be able to have spectators, but we will have to wait and see how many. We are balancing the health and safety of everyone involved, but I strongly believe The Open needs spectators. It will be really important to have some, but we want to make sure we do it smartly, intelligently and with due diligence.”

The R&A will be looking to the Masters in April, where Augusta National will be inviting in a limited number of spectators, to see if the competition does meet any hurdles.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the field for Royal St George’s reached 106. At this point, the tournament organisers enforced a 12-month postponement. Each of the 106 is guaranteed a position for 2021 and the R&A has announced that the International Open Qualifying Series will not begin until the close of play on next year’s Open. 50 places do remain open through the Open’s exemption categories - a grasp for the final 50 places will occur in June.