A small golf club on the Isle of Man could offer a unique solution to the R&A in the time of crisis caused by COVID-19. The British Open was due to be held at Royal St George’s course in Kent between dates 12-19 July 2020. In excess of 200,000 spectators would have attended and it’s no surprise that the event has been cancelled till 2021.
This leaves a gap in the role of honour for British Open winners that nobody will enjoy seeing . Names on the famous claret jug are cherished across the globe whether you’re a golf fan or not. A huge void of golfing love needs to be filled and the annual opportunity for the planet’s top golfers to win the greatest prize in golf can’t be forlorn.
Rowany Golf Course is a friendly club in Port Erin in the South of the beautiful Isle of Man which has 8 golfer courses.
Past winners over the last decade include Lowry, Molinari, Spieth, Stenson, Johnson, beyond that, the legends Woods, Nicklaus, Ballesteros et al are engraved in pure sporting history.
Any British golfer or armchair sports pundit will know that one name has eluded the title. Lee Westwood had followed Sergio Garcia as ‘the best current player never to win a major’. It could be argued that Westwood now holds that unfortunate mantle following the Spaniard’s win at the Masters in 2017. Passionate performances in the Ryder Cup and several top ten finishes in the British Open have gilded a player’s career adored by the watching public. We had a close call in 2010 at the home of golf, St Andrew’s. The Nottinghamshire lad was a second place to the insane scoring of Louis Oosthuizen. It was commented on being his best chance as his age was prime. Muirfield in 2013 claimed a third place where American ‘lefty’ Phil Mickelson won. Many other tournaments saw cuts made and chances gone.
As the years slip buy, it has been thought that Westwood had missed his chance to collect an Open win. However, a surprise victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January this year, reestablished his potential of winning a major in 2020. Maybe, just maybe, this year was going to deliver the unthinkable?
There has been no official approach to the ‘Royal and Ancient’ as yet but the concept makes perfect sense. The Isle of Man is an obvious venue to host the British Open during these times of quarantine and rules regarding self distancing. To host the Open anywhere else in the British Isles would be impossible due to the golf fans flocking to any venue.
The Isle of Man is situated in the middle of the Irish Sea and being surrounded by water, gives a natural protection from current threats. The borders are closed as the pandemic is being controlled.
Served with a local airport to accommodate private aircraft, players would arrive with only a caddy and clubs. Entry would be limited to the World’s top 100 golfers and no spectators would be permitted. The whole event would be televised by Rowany TV with local member Orry Glover as the sports anchor for the 4 days. Glover was asked about the opportunity and was delighted to say ‘I’m pretty good on the golf like. Not as good as me horses. I reckon Westwood could do it round here. He’s long enough and can putt. The 15th might be a bit tricky.’
Clubhouse facilities are recognised as slightly limited for such a competition. The steward Peter Holt relishes the chance to host the World’s greatest golfers. Affectionately known as ‘Holty’, he commented ‘We would pull out all the stops for this event. Maria will be opening up at 8 and I’ll order some more bacon and decent sausages for a change. We might even have the bar open later too. Even on the Sunday. Unless City are playing by then of course.’
‘Setting up a tented village would be no problem as we’ve had numerous applications for one of those over the years’ claimed Club Captain Ged Power. He added ‘I’m a big fan of Lee Westwood and this really does give him a great chance of winning the famous Claret Jug at a classic course.’ When asked about prize pot for this prestigious event, ‘I reckon we can get a deal for some Dangerous Golf Shirts and I know Martin at Bushy’s Brewery will put on a few pints. Tower Insurance have always been fantastic too. Maybe some vouchers for the top three?’
So, there we have it. Westwood’s last chance? An R&A opportunity not to be missed? Watch this space, July 2020 could be the time when Rowany really does become ‘Royal’.