A memorable trip to the Open Golf Championship

Dr David Carvel and a group of young golfers enjoyed a day out at Muirfield for the Open.

Golfer Peter Hanson with fans
Golfer Peter Hanson with fans

It was something special for East Lothian to host the 142nd Open Golf Championship last month.

Muirfield attracted its share of media attention, some for the wrong reasons. We were reminded it is exclusively male and this seemingly prevented our golf-loving First Minister, Alex Salmond, from visiting.

I won't get embroiled in that debate but I did smile ruefully when it was stated that female cleaners were permitted access to the Muirfield clubhouse.

I visited on the first practice day, with 17 budding golfers from my local club (including my sons), all under the age (but not the handicap) of 10. I was there as a parent helper.

From a spectator's point of view, I think attending a practice day offers excellent value for money (£25 compared to £75 admission). The players are more relaxed - they seemed happy to chat and sign autographs. The young golfers made it their mission to accrue as many scribbles on their tickets, caps and T-shirts as they could. I had to discourage one who kept rejoining the queue in a bid to beat his record of three signatures from the one player.

As a GP, the 'exclusions' I was most pleased to note were the absence of tobacco and alcohol sponsors. I await Formula 1 being subject to the same sensible ban and, after Westminster's recent rejection of plain cigarette packaging and minimum alcohol unit pricing, remain highly suspicious of political and business interference.

I was impressed by the ambulance-bikes pedalled by fit paramedics. I suspect golf balls hitting skulls were less common occurrences than other medical complaints and, of course, the sun shone and temperatures were correspondingly high.

Retreating from the sporting 'battlefield', we found ourselves queuing to buy Open memorabilia with the great Swedish golfer Peter Hanson. He kindly agreed to be photographed with a few of the children and we wished him luck.

This came to nothing as he withdrew on the first day, being under par but feeling under par with back pain.

Tired but happy, we went home to watch the competition proper from the comfort of our own armchairs.

  • Dr Carvel is a GP in South Lanarkshire, Scotland.

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