Longest hole, biggest crowds — the 2024 Open at Royal Troon should be a memorable one

The R&A announced a multi-year agreement Monday that will see NetJets become the official private jet provider for The Open.

Golf’s oldest and perhaps most cherished major is big business. And it’s getting bigger. The last time The Open was at Royal Troon in 2016, a total of 173,000 spectators watched golfing affairs unravel.

This July, when the championship returns to the Scottish coast, a whopping 250,000 will file through the gates in the kind of mass stampede you’d get with a migration of Wildebeest.

The 152nd staging of The Open will have the third highest attendance in history, after the 290,000 that were shoehorned into St. Andrews for the 150th bonanza in 2022 and the 260,000 that descended on Hoylake last year.

“It’s a clear sign of the size of The Open,” said The R&A’s director of championship operations, Rhodri Price, who noted that some 22,500 will be under 25 while 13,000 will be part of the Kids Go Free initiative. “That’s testament to what The Open does for youngsters.”

Phil Mickelson of the United States walks next to his caddie Jim McKay on the 3rd during the second round on day two of the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon on July 15, 2016, in Troon, Scotland. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

With the vast Open infrastructure being clattered and rattled up and transforming the Royal Troon surrounds into an officially-branded town of its own, the stage continues to be set.

The robust links will play to a total of 7,385 yards, up by 195 yards on the 2016 championship. At a formidable 623 yards, the par-5 sixth will be the longest hole in Open history.

This wheezing correspondent just about required fistfuls of Kendal Mint Cake and a sherpa to complete the great hike as we gasped and wheezed through a series of mighty blows in the media outing yesterday.

Two holes later, players will square up to the shortest hole in the championship’s history at the celebrated Postage Stamp.

The par-3 eighth, the scene of German amateur Hermann Tissies’ grisly 15 in the 1950 Open, measures just 123 yards on the scorecard but organizers can knock that down to a mere 99 yards with a front pin if they fancy.

Unsurprisingly, the Postage Stamp will be a significant feature of The Open presentation. TV cameras will be dug into all five bunkers that surround the tiny green to capture all manner of sandy escapades while a wraparound grandstand with 1,500 seats will be a much sought-after vantage point.

Play begins on July 18.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek