Ready for the links? |

Ready for the links?

Anticipating a vacation is a fun thing. We don’t care how early we have to wake up. We don’t care how long the flight or the ride is. Becoming familiar with a new place conjures more adventure than anxiety.

Yet, what if being comfortable in your surroundings could directly effect your business, your income?

This is part of the story this week for players on the PGA Tour. The world’s top players are gathering at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England, for the British Open Golf Championship. The seaside golf links is, of course, adjacent to the city of Liverpool, renowned for Beatles fame.

One adjustment is sleeping. British Standard Time is eight hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time. So, you get to England, put your head on your pillow at 10 p.m., but your body thinks its 2 p.m. Toss, turn, count sheep (we’ll talk more about them in a moment). Just about the time you’re ready to sleep, the sun’s coming up. Ugh.

If you already weren’t a morning person, warn those around you, somebody might get hurt.

The next thing is the climate. In America, the PGA Tour makes every attempt to schedule events in an ideal environment. Hawaii and the west coast during the winter, the south for the spring, and then venture up to the north east in the summer.

However, this is English coast land. Bernard Darwin, Hall of Fame golf correspondent, wrote long ago, “Hoylake, blown upon by mighty winds, breeder of mighty champions.” Saturday’s 3rd round calls for a 90 percent chance of rain. Pack your rain gear boys.

And, as you might know, course conditions are not always ‘fair.’ Knee-deep rough and bunkers you can barely see out of will attract any ball that might venture off line. This is the way they like it. A bit more raw and natural.

Remember, sheep could be considered caretakers of the original golf courses. Just think, if you had an adequate supply of the animals, they might keep the grass at a fairly uniform height.

They also took part in course design, because sand bunkers were created by sheep. The sheep would burrow out a depression in the ground to protect themselves from the rain and wind. After some time, the depression would become a hole and, of course, the hole would get larger. Wind brought sand to the holes and viola, we have our first bunkers. Truly a hazard for golfers, there were no rakes and no guarantee of escape.

For European golfers, it is simply known as “The Open.” Elsewhere, this might be confused with our United States Open Championship, but for our friends across the pond, there is no ambiguity. Theirs is the world’s oldest major golf tournament with the first Open Championship being played on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 1860.

It is still the majestic, historic Open, but it has changed with the times. The care taking barnyard animals have been exchanged for high tech equipment and the boys will be playing under much more consistent conditions.

Yet, as mentioned, personal comfort and familiarity with the territory are large factors and will likely win the day and the week.

The Open Championship will be fun to watch and, without a doubt, separate the sheep from the goats. Watch it this morning on ESPN.

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