Where, when and how to get in - a spectator's guide to the year 2000 - Golf - Sport - The Independent

Where, when and how to get in - a spectator's guide to the year 2000

Golf - The Open Championship Old Course, St Andrews

The Open Championship is exactly what it says it is: open to anyone with a handicap good enough to enter and open to everyone to watch. There is never such a thing as a "sell-out". Touts who earn a living outside such venues as Wimbledon, Wembley, Lord's and Twickenham go on holiday in the third week in July. The Open remains one of the few top-class sporting occasions where spectators can walk up on the morning of the event and pay on the gate.

The Open Championship is exactly what it says it is: open to anyone with a handicap good enough to enter and open to everyone to watch. There is never such a thing as a "sell-out". Touts who earn a living outside such venues as Wimbledon, Wembley, Lord's and Twickenham go on holiday in the third week in July. The Open remains one of the few top-class sporting occasions where spectators can walk up on the morning of the event and pay on the gate.

The size of the gallery is never limited and, typically, around 40,000 turn up on the weekend. With the Millennium Open taking place at St Andrews, the weekly total is expected to pass the 200,000 mark.

Another thing the championship's guardians, the Royal and Ancient, pride themselves on is value for money. The price for adults on championship days is £30, with the action lasting for up to 15 hours on the opening two days. Practice day tickets range from £4 to £18. Senior citizens pay half-price, and 16 to 21-year-olds even less. There is also a far-sighted policy of admitting under-16s for free when accompanied by an adult.

Although not essential, it is possible to order tickets in advance at great savings on season tickets. Until 31 January, a season ticket covering the eight days of practice and championship is only £95, rising to £105 until 30 April and £115 from 1 May. In contrast, the cheapest ticket for the 2001 Ryder Cup at The Belfry will be £300.

The Old Course is not the most convenient for walking, and the alternative is to take a seat in a stand and watch the field pass through.

Accommodation prices in the Old Grey Toon have gone berserk - £400 for a night in a guest house and £20,000 for a five-bedroom house for the week - so Dundee and Perth may be better options. A shuttle service will operate from Leuchars station, to where ScotRail will be operating special services from Dundee and Edinburgh.

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