Furious spectators face £10 road toll from 'greedy' local residents

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The Independent Online

The Road Hole is one of golf's most feared obstacles but it was the Road Toll that was causing all the trouble here yesterday. Local residents were condemned as "greedy'' for the "outrage'' of charging members of the public £10-a-time to watch Open aspirants, including Ian Woosnam, play in Final Qualifying at Prince's Golf Club.

Royal St George's, which will host the 132nd Open this week, is separated from neighbouring Prince's by less than a mile. The only road that joins them is a private one owned by the residents, who were levying spectators. Mindful of their image, those manning the toll "barricade'' allowed competitors and members of the press to use the road free of charge.

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, the organisers of the Open, expressed their disappointment at the Sandwich Bay Residents' Association, to which they had already paid £25,000 to use another private road through the area. "In addition to the £25,000 contribution we made to them, we also gave £15,000 to the Dover District Council for upgrading of the ancient highway,'' said David Hill, the Open Championship secretary.

Bill Howie, the club director at Prince's, said the residents' decision to charge £10 was "absolutely appalling.'' He added: "My concern is that this should be a festival of golf and they are spoiling it because they are greedy. The R&A have paid them handsomely for allowing vehicles to use their road and it's an outrage. They're using the road as a ransom strip.

"If the Open does not return the Sandwich Bay residents should be held responsible. We'd been telling people that access to Prince's would be free and I've had to speak to a number of very angry spectators. There's no need for the residents to make a charge. It's extremely embarrassing for the whole area.''

A £5 toll normally operates on the coastal road between Sandwich and Deal, but instead of this being removed as hoped ­ in exchange for £25,000 ­ the toll was moved on to the private road leading to Prince's and the fee was doubled.

"Tiger Woods makes a few quid from the game, why shouldn't we earn a bit for the upkeep of our estate?" said a resident, who was unwilling to be named.

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