The Open venue most desperately in need of some restoration after some dodgy changes through the years, lands the 2020 championship. While the southeast English links sports plenty of fine holes and is a beautifully maintained club, the course once revered decades ago for its uber-natural features has lost some appeal due to a bit too much man-made quirk.
That said, they may surprise us, and for fans of next door neighbor Royal Cinque Ports, it gives reason to return to one of the most underrated links on the planet.
Meanwhile Trump Turnberry is still on the R&A radar, reports John Huggan, but reading Alistair Tait's item on Muirfield's upcoming vote, Martin Slumbers makes it sound like they will be penciled-in ahead of Turnberry.
Oh and The Old Course will inevitably host in 2021.
For Immediate Release:
THE 149TH OPEN TO BE PLAYED AT ROYAL ST GEORGE’S IN 2020
20 February 2017, St Andrews, Scotland: One of the world’s great sporting events will return to the south east of England in 2020 when The 149th Open is played at Royal St George’s.
The Open will return to the historic Kent links for the 15th time. It was last played at Royal St George’s in 2011 when Darren Clarke showed his mastery of links golf in challenging weather conditions to hold off Americans Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson to become Champion Golfer of the Year.
“It was an unbelievable feeling to lift the Claret Jug and know that my name was displayed on the trophy alongside so many of the greatest players ever to play the game,” said Clarke.
“The Open is what it is all about for me as a golfer and it is the championship I always dreamt of winning from when I first took up the game as a kid. I have so many wonderful memories from that week at Sandwich and I will be thrilled to go back there for The Open in three years’ time.”
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We are very much looking forward to the return of The Open to Royal St George’s in 2020. The Open is a true celebration of sport and the global spotlight will fall once again on Sandwich.
“Royal St George’s has produced a series of outstanding Champion Golfers over the last 120 years and it is a thrilling prospect for golf fans to see the greatest players competing on one of the world’s finest links courses.”
James Furber, the Captain of Royal St George’s, said, “We are delighted and honoured to be invited to host The Open in 2020. This is tremendous news for the Club and a wonderful commercial opportunity for Sandwich, Thanet and Kent.
“The Club is most grateful to all those in the local authorities and the local MP’s who have worked so hard with us over the last few years to bring this about. We look forward to working with The R&A and others over the next three years to deliver one of the world’s most prestigious championships in 2020.”
Royal St George’s first hosted The Open in 1894 and it was the first occasion on which the Championship was played outside of Scotland. The 35th Open was won by JH Taylor, who became the first English professional to win the Championship.
Over the years, the historic links at Sandwich has seen some of golf’s greatest players lift the Claret Jug including Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen, Henry Cotton, Bobby Locke, Sandy Lyle and Greg Norman, who secured a two-shot victory over Sir Nick Faldo in 1993.
Paul Carter CBE, Leader of Kent County Council, said, “We are absolutely delighted that we have secured The Open in 2020 at Royal St George’s. In 2011 there were over 180,000 visitors to The Open, and an extra 37,000 passengers travelled on the special High Speed train service from London St Pancras.
“The benefits to the tourist economy was massive, amounting to over £64 million. Significant transport improvements were needed to improve spectator flows in and out of Royal St George’s and KCC has played a leading role in facilitating partnership funding with the Local Enterprise Partnership and District Councils.”
Cllr Paul Watkins, Leader of Dover District Council, said, “We are delighted to be welcoming The Open back to Sandwich in 2020. It’s the biggest sporting event to come to the region and provides the perfect showcase for Dover and the wider East Kent area.
“We’re proud to have some of the world’s finest links courses and The Open always provides a huge boost to the local economy. We look forward to working with The R&A and partners to deliver another outstanding event in 2020.”
Christian Brodie, Chairman of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, added, “The Open is one of the country’s iconic sporting events and it’s fantastic news that Royal St George’s will host it again.
“The Open in 2016 was worth an estimated £110 million to Troon and Scotland and in 2020 it will present us with an opportunity to highlight the economic opportunities for business to invest in East Kent to a global audience.”
The 149th Open will be played from 12-19 July 2020.