The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship returns this year celebrating its tenth anniversary and the quality of the professional field certainly reflects that. Over the years the event has gone from strength to strength in terms of the golfers and celebrities in attendance along with the growing strength in numbers of the spectating crowds. So seldom in world golf do you see so many top-level professionals playing such a concentration of iconic links golf courses in the space of four days; Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and the Old Course herself – a fabulous prospect for any golfing enthusiast.
Prior to its current format the event went by the name of the ‘Alfred Dunhill Cup’ and took place from 1985 until 2000. The original tournament saw teams of three professionals represent their countries in a round-robin format over three days with the semi-finals and final played on the Sunday. It was a fabulous event for spectators that usually attracted the crème de la crème of each nation’s golfing talent making for some exciting golf and some true on-course camaraderie. The tournament has changed vastly in style and format with the introduction of the celebrity pro-am set-up in 2001 but this perhaps reflects a change in current society and her fascination with ‘celebrity’. The friendship on the course, however, has never waned and each year we see professionals like Ernie Els take to the course with their father as their partner. Martin Kaymer takes it one step further this year and keeps it in the family with his father Horst partnering him and his brother Philip on his bag!
Dunhill week sees the town of St Andrews swell in numbers as a party atmosphere takes grip for the duration. An unlikely gathering of elite athletes, businessmen, radio and television personalities and Hollywood stars is brought together to join professionals for the event drawing crowds at each of the host venues; regular competitors include Sir Matthew Pinsent, Samuel L Jackson, Hugh Grant and Huey Lewis! This year sees three of the current major champions out to contend for the title, Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke along with defending champion, Martin Kaymer, from Germany. Although the prize fund is substantial, I belive that many of those competing would still attend regardless of the potential spoils given the location and the indiscriminate draw that the Old Course has on every golfer.
Current Masters Champion, Charl Schwartzel, summed it up perfectly in a recent interview with BBC sport when he said that “standing on the first tee at St Andrews gives you goose bumps every single time you step up there. It’s difficult to describe for someone who has never played it. The first, 17th and 18th … if you don’t feel something when you go down those three holes there’s something wrong with you,”. We couldn’t agree more with him! Don’t be left out – contact the Old Course Experience today to plan your guaranteed experience on the Old Course.