Golf: Carnoustie is up to scratch
Wednesday 12 May 1999
Like the hotel, it belongs to Michael Johnston, a local property developer. Johnston first arrived 18 months ago when the project to get a suitable hotel ready in time for this July's 128th Open Championship was the last cog in a chain that will see the game's oldest and grandest event return to the fabled Carnoustie links for the first time in 24 years.
The hotel was designed by the former Scottish rugby international David Leslie and is positioned right behind the first tee and the 18th green. If opinions differ on its architectural merits, there is no disputing the improvement on the building it replaced, a concrete monstrosity of a club-house that was a disservice to public conveniences throughout the land.
Nothing could provide a better illustration of how important money has become in golf, something Sir Michael Bonallack, the retiring secretary of the Royal and Ancient, is concerned will go too far.
"We have got some way to go yet but the game is in danger of burning itself out with the escalation of high prizes," he said. "Other sports, like tennis, have gone the same way and it has not done them any good. With the players earning more and more, they will play less and less, but the sponsors will only provide the big purses if all the top players are playing."
This year's Open champion will receive pounds 320,000, less than half the $1m on offer to the winners of the three World Championship events. But Bonallack is not concerned about the majors losing their place in the game.
"They will always have a place," he said. "Money is not the reason the players want to play in a major. When I first became secretary in 1983, we had to go out and ask players if they were coming to the Open. Now they come to us."
Among those who have already posted their entries is the 1968 winner at Carnoustie, Gary Player, former champions Nick Faldo, Tony Jacklin, Sandy Lyle and Seve Ballesteros, plus Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods and Justin Rose, who finished fourth as an amateur last year.
Bonallack was also an amateur in 1968 when he was two strokes off the lead with nine holes to play but came home in 45. "It was a nightmare," he said.
"The last nine holes are as testing as anywhere in the world. The transformation here in the last 20 years is unbelievable. The Open had moved on after 1975 and Carnoustie did not meet the standards required but now it exceeds them. You have one of the world's premier courses with all the facilities you would expect."
Tom Watson, the winner in the last Carnoustie Open in 1975, has been made an honorary member of the Royal and Ancient. The five-times champion joins a list of 11 others, which includes Peter Thomson, who also won five titles, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gene Sarazen, the Dukes of Edinburgh, York and Kent, as well as the former US President George Bush.
Latest in Sport
Andy Murray tells how coach Amélie Mauresmo revealed her pregnancy
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: The biggest fight of all time, or maybe just the most lucrative?
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao start?
Everton 3 Manchester United 0 player ratings: Who scored lower - Marouane Fellaini or Radamel Falcao?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Bridgend based software de...
£21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A specialist retail and brand c...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...
£26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Haulage company based on the Thorpe Indu...