The Open Championship Venues, by Donald Ford

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The Independent Culture

If you're a friend of Rory McIlroy's, seek no further for a Christmas present to tuck in his stocking.

The young Northern Irish golfer is occupied with the Ryder Cup this weekend, but makes no secret of the fact that he regards the majors as the pinnacle of his sport, so a photographic celebration of the venues where the oldest of them all, The Open, is played is likely to find favour. It will have to be a large stocking, though, as this is a lavish, large-format tour of the nine links courses that stage the Championship, and of the five no longer used.

Donald Ford is a double Scotland international, at football and cricket but, as a photographer, golf is his first love, and it shows in this collection of landscapes. The sandy, shoreline nature common to all links courses might suggest they have a certain sameness, but Ford reveals them to be infinite in their variety, from the lush greenness of Royal Troon's tight little Postage Stamp par 3, to the gorgeous setting of Royal Portrush's fifth green overlooking a golden beach, and the seaward vistas of the lighthouse, the isle of Arran and the granite bulk of Ailsa Craig from Turnberry.

The accompanying text details the dramas of each course's Opens, but no player is present in these landscapes, leaving us to imagine the heroes of the past. Each venue still in use is afforded a signature double-spread picture, and perhaps the only minor disappointment of this beautifully achieved work is a lack of information about Ford's thinking and choice of angle for his images, or any technical details of how they were achieved.

But perhaps, like many great golfers, Ford prefers to keep his secrets to himself.

Published in hardback in a signed limited edition of 2,000, £25. Available from