Royal Porthcawl’s Michael Newland reflects on the club’s first Senior Open Championship and looks forward to the competition’s return in 2017.

I think the first Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl in 2014 went even better than expected. It was a fantastic success, with a stellar field that showcased Royal Porthcawl at its absolute best.

We had great feedback from the players about the golf course. The spectators created a fantastic atmosphere and we had beautiful sunshine for the length of the competition, which definitely helped too. The coverage on TV was very positive too. When you’ve got someone like Sky Sports’ Ewan Murray describing Royal Porthcawl as ‘paradise’, you can’t really ask for much more.

There was a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes in advance of the tournament, but it all paid off in the end. There was a lot of collaboration between the Welsh Government, Bridgend Council, European Tour, the R&A and the club to make it all happen, so it was great to see the event be such a big success.

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club

Having an event like the Senior Open Championship at Porthcawl keeps Wales on the map as a host of championship golf at the highest level, so it’s really important. Visiting golfers like to play championship courses that are right up there with the very best. Royal Porthcawl and the four qualifying courses of Ashburnham, Pyle & Kenfig, Machynys and Southerndown are all fantastic places to play. Having the association with Senior Open allows us to promote much more effectively to visitors from all around the world. Golf is one of the few sports where amateurs can play on the same turf as the pros, so the chance to test yourself against some of these giants of the game is a huge draw for visitors. 

I think the field in 2017 will be as strong, if not stronger than last time. Obviously, 2014 champion Bernhard Langer is coming back, along with Tom Watson and Miguel Ángel Jiménez. There’s also a major Welsh contingent in Stephen Dodd, Philip Price, Ian Woosnam and Royal Porthcawl’s own Peter Evans, who is also hoping to qualify. He played in the Senior Open at Sunningdale in 2015 and did very well, so it would be great to see him in action here this year. There’s also talk of José María Olazábal, Steve Stricker and John Daly playing too, so we should be looking at a truly stellar field. The chance to see these guys in action up close on the practice ground and the course is one of the most exciting things about the competition.

Bernhard Langer at the Senior Open Championship, Royal Porthcawl Golf Club.

Bernhard Langer at the Senior Open Championship, Royal Porthcawl Golf Club.

 by Getty Images

Looking forward to this summer’s competition, it’s a little bit easier the second time around. There aren’t really any changes planned from 2014 so we’ll hopefully get lucky with the weather again and produce something just as memorable in 2017. 

It is important to ensure that the golf course is up to the very highest standard, in 2014 the players commented on how good it was, how well the greens rolled and how well the whole course played. We want to make sure we are equal, or maybe even surpass, the standards that were set for the last competition. 

The Senior Open Championship takes place at Royal Porthcawl 26-30 July 2017. To book your tickets, please click here