From 13th to 20th July, the 143rd Open Golf Championship provided the usual blend of excitement and hard work for the group of thirteen sixth-form pupils and five staff that made up the Cranleigh team operating one of the two iconic yellow scoreboards towering high above the 18th green at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake.
The week-long trip started gently for the three practice days with group members based greenside on various holes providing updates for the central administration about the progress of players around the course. The main event started early on the Thursday, with the first group teeing off at 6.20am. Our team worked in alternating three-hour shifts inside the 18R scoreboard, updating the leader board and posting information for the spectators about the scores of each group approaching the green. Friendly rivalry with the Charterhouse team operating the other 18th green scoreboard spurred us on to discharge our duties as efficiently as possible, aiming to keep spectators up to date with scores quickly and correctly.
All kinds of weather were experienced and those who followed the instructions on the kit list regarding sunscreen and umbrellas being very grateful. The group camped in nearby Greasby, with evening meals varying from fish and chips on the beach at West Kirby to a splendid feast at the Hickory Smokehouse. In addition to the golf, there was the usual quota of events to keep us entertained. The sweepstake (Rory won), lost pass panic (Alex), Tim Henman encounter (Chloe), TV interview (Matt), dodgy ribs (Tom C), birthday cake (Oli), all added to the enjoyment of a trip which provided a wealth of fun and good experience for everyone.
On the final day we shared the excitement of the seven-thousand spectators in the stands at the 18th green watching our scoreboard as they followed Rory McIlory’s progress round the course, and it was an honour to be so close to the action as he sunk the last putt, and to be there to watch him receive the claret jug. The long journey home then followed, with everyone in the group feeling privileged to have been involved in such a key way at a major sporting event, and knowing that we had done a good job.
With electronic scoreboards appearing for the first time on some of the holes, we are pleased that the 18th green is still retaining the manually operated version (at least for the moment), and so we now look forward to the 2015 championship to be held at St Andrews.
Many thanks go to SLG for organising the trip so well, as ever.