Monetising The Open is something that the R&A have become increasingly adept at over the last years. Anyone who has witnessed the sharp rise in entrance prices and the costs of a portion of fish and chips will bear testimony to that. But this year they have come up with another wheeze that may just put the other majors' attempts into the shade - 'The Open Experience' is a week of golf and wining and dining unlike any other, with a very happy finish.
The itinerary is pretty attractive. You rock up on the Thursday morning and your on-course hospitality for the week is all based in the Hogan Suite n the famous hotel overlooking the 1st tee and 18th green. It also has the benefit of a balcony never before opened to members of the public during Open week. It's all yours. All food and drink is included, as well as VIP transport from your accommodation in the Malmaison Dundee.
OK, that's all pretty vanilla so far, although the Hogan Suite and balcony is a nice touch.
Here's where it gets a bit special. On the Thursday and Sunday you can take part in a 'behind the scenes at Carnoustie' tour. You get to go inside the giant yellow scoreboard at 18, tour the media centre and stand behind the players as they warm up on the practice range.
Then on Friday you nip down to St Andrews to play the Jubilee Course. You will also enjoy a gourmet lunch inside the R&A with a tour from a member. Remember your tie.
Saturday night brings the party. There will be more champagne (you will be sick of it by now) and you can 'Join golf ’s elite competitors, commentators, and personalities in The R&A Trophy Room to unwind, mix and mingle, at The Open Experiences’ Official Party'. Padraig Harrington will pop in to do a Q&A. More champagne will be required to get through some of his answers I suspect.
Sounds good? Arguably the best is yet to come. On Monday afternoon you will get to tee it up at Carnoustie. Same pin positions, grandstands up, the works.
That really does elevate this to something quite special. The Masters have upped the ante over recent years with Berckman's Place and all it brings. Let's just pause there for a second, can you imagine what a week's hospitality of this class and a round at Augusta on the Monday would go for?!
Carnoustie isn't my favourite Open golf course. In fact, it is possibly my least favourite - you can read my review here. The course has beaten me up badly both times I played it but I would be willing to go back to have another go as part of this deal if they are looking for enthusiastic bloggers.
I think that sort of invitation is the only way I'm going to get there as it's just over £10,000 for the whole thing - if you share a room - add on a few grand to that if you want the privacy of your own room. Clearly you need to quaff a lot of champagne and oysters to maximise the value of this experience, but if you have that kind of money burning a hole in your pocket then this could be quite a trip to take!