Royal St George’s ready for The Open
Royal St George’s ready for The Open

Twelve months ago, the 149th Open Championship was cancelled, and the links of the Royal St George’s Club remained silent when they should have been the centre of the golfing world.

Twelve months on and the Sandwich links are gearing up to host the event in 2021 with hopefully some fans in attendance.

KSN has been talking to the club’s secretary – Tim Checketts – about how the club has responded to the initial disappointment to now preparing to stage the tournament albeit twelve months on…

“We were all pretty realistic this time last year it was pretty obvious that the Championship was going to be cancelled in 2020,” Mr Checketts told us, “but we’re all delighted that it’s coming back this year – delighted for us as a club, delighted for Kent, for Sandwich and everyone who has done so very much over the last five years making sure that the Championship comes back here – it’s been a real team effort with local authorities and others to get it back to Kent.”

“In the end it’s taken rather longer than we’d hoped but I think that we’re all pretty confident that we’ll have a smashing Championship in July.”

“It was tough last year particularly for our green staff who had put a huge amount of time into peaking the course and in April it was in fantastic condition for our members, and they enjoyed a fabulous summer of golf when they were allowed to come back and play a course in absolutely wonderful condition.”

“Now we’ve had another year, so we’ve been able to do more work in a lot of areas where we wouldn’t have been able to have a chance to improve. We’ve now had that chance over the winter, so hopefully we can meet an even higher standard still.”

“It’s great being on The Open roster – it’s a great privilege and means that we’ve got to set a certain standard which we enjoy doing. I always say to the team here that it’s great to be on The Open roster than be a Club that used to host an Open Championship.”

“We know that we’re one of the very fortunate eight or nine clubs on the roster now and we look forward to welcoming the Championship back in July and again in the future.”

“Last time the Championship was here, the course played in quite a difficult way – it was wet, and it was windy, extreme conditions and it played perfectly into the golf that Darren Clarke had probably been brought up playing in Ireland as a boy, so you could say that it wasn’t as much as a surprise to him.”

“But then again in other years, we’ve had burnt out brown years like when Greg Norman won (in 1993) that made the place look like a desert which created a different challenge – a fast bouncy golf course with a premium on striking the ball brilliantly which he did!”