The Open 2004

Troon diary

The security staff at Royal Troon ejected a photographer on Saturday for taking shots of the world No 1, Tiger Woods.

Snapper out of focus

The security staff at Royal Troon ejected a photographer on Saturday for taking shots of the world No 1, Tiger Woods. The snapper in question, who possessed every relevant access pass except an official armband, had had the temerity to follow Woods' round and, er, take pictures. Funny behaviour that, for a photographer. At least that's what the heavies thought, as they escorted the unfortunate chap away from Tiger, who was flanked all day by four personal bodyguards, and off the premises. "But I'm the police force's official photographer," he told them. "Course you are, mate," they said. He was. It's not a fair cop, guv.

Lost and found

"I left a few shots out there today," is one of the commonest - and most irritating post-match comments to be heard here this week. Luckily, we've been around the course and collected all those shots, about 900 since Thursday. If any the players responsible would like their property back, please send an SAE and a cheque for £500. Mark the envelope: "Flaky/gullible".

Troon turn-off

The attendance here yesterday was 36,000, or 300 people fewer than on the corresponding Sunday in 1997, the last time The Open was in Troon. This year's Saturday figure, 37,000, was 3,000 down on 1997, and although last Friday's 38,500 was 1,500 up on 1997's 37,000, the total for the tournament, including practice, was 176,000, or 2,300 down on seven years ago. Increased bed prices, we reckon.

Bin for Lyle

An official bulletin on litter has been in circulation here, informing us that 200 local school children, aged 14 to 15, have been keeping the course tidy under the supervision of 20 teachers. They were helping to fill 800 wheelie bins, 40 industrial bins and 40 skips, the contents of which ended up in one of three, 32-ton compactor vehicles before being taken away in one of four dedicated pick-up trucks. While this is clearly fascinating stuff, the most interesting titbit came courtesy of an overheard exchange between a litter "team leader" and a pupil. "How did Sandy Lyle do?" asked the teacher. "Rubbish."

Locals rejoice in the golden fleece

Fleece them hard, fleece them early. It's the unofficial motto of homeowners in the vicinity of all Open courses, and the cashing-in on next year's event at St Andrews is already well underway. Of course, visiting fans expect to be ripped off. Last year at Royal St George's residents famously, shamelessly charged £10 per driver for cars to use a stretch of road a few hundred metres long through their estate. Here in Troon, even anti-golf activists have been renting their homes for huge sums, most notoriously Karen Raeburn, "a Troon woman", according to local media, who protested at the nuisance of B&Bs in town while trousering £6,000 to rent out her house for a week. Yet come next year, and the prices of billets will hit new, extraordinary heights. The official 2005 St Andrews Open accommodation service has had an office in the tented village here and the prices are as eye-watering as the wind. Among some 500 properties already available, you will typically pay £5,000 for a smallish place a mile away from the course. If you want to be a minute's walk from the 18th, you can snap up a terrace house for nine days for £44,000. The same money would also buy you a week's use of a castle (sleeps 24) on the Firth of Tay, while if you spend another six grand, you can rent an Edwardian mansion "an easy drive to St Andrews via roads that have low traffic volumes" for £50,000. The "bargain" of the bunch, however, has to be a flat adjacent to the Old Course. It sleeps six, and has views over the whole course. It's yours for a week for £32,000. Campsite for a tenner, anyone?

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