Open, closed: 4 takeaways from the decade's final major

A great venue and a pair of etiquette controversies will have fans talking.
Shane Lowry of Ireland plays his tee shot on the 16th hole during the final round of the 148th Open Championship on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club.

Can you believe that we've just seen the decade's final major championship come and go?

Doesn't it seem like just yesterday that Phil Mickelson hit that incredible mid-iron around the tree on 13 at Augusta en route to his third green jacket at the 2010 Masters?

But just like that, we've closed the book on an entire decade's worth of major championship golf, bookended by decisive, popular victories.

Here are four takeaways from The Open: one big positive and a few episodes that are perfect 19th-hole debate fodder:

Portrush is prime future Open territory

The short par-4 5th - "White Rocks" - is a highlight of the popular routing at Royal Portrush.

For nearly 70 years, Scotland and England have hogged the spotlight that comes with hosting The Open. Most American golfers had no idea how beautiful and great the links in Ireland and Northern Ireland are until watching Irishman Shane Lowry win this weekend.

Praise for the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush and the tournament was universal from fans and R&A officials to players. It was the first sellout in Open history. The Irish love their golf; without a doubt, this was the biggest sporting event ever held on the Emerald Isle.

The links might have already leapfrogged more established Open venues to become one of the more popular stops on the rota. It's fair - you'll note that none of the good shots down the fairway kicked into bad lies in the dunes like other links - and scenic and challenging. The fact that traditional Irish weather, wind and rain, affected play during the final round added another element of intrigue, even if Lowry ran away with it.

Portrush has already proven it deserves a return trip, and likely several more. The BBC reports that The Open could return to Portrush as soon as 2024.

"If we have to wait another 10 years, the icing might rub off between now and then and people might forget," Graeme McDowell told the BBC. "Hopefully we can get it back soon - it would be very special."

Slow play rankles Koepka and fans

Though he began the final round with already-minimal opportunity to win, given he was seven shots behind Lowry, Brooks Koepka's playing partner did him no favors. First-round leader J.B. Holmes is notorious for his slow play, and Koepka, one of the PGA Tour's fastest players, made his displeasure with Holmes deliberateness known in subtle but stern ways on Sunday.

The fact that Holmes shot 87, the worst score of the weekend by 7 shots, did not help matters.

Pace of play is a constant source of complaint for golfers in all situations - not just elite competition. Even long-tenured rules officials have balked at the idea of enforcing penalties for slow play, owing to the amount of money players stand to make. It is clear that pro golf is not going to solve the game's pace of play problem anytime soon. We amateurs, and the facilities where we play, are going to have to do it ourselves.

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A four-letter word we actually want to hear

Young Scottish pro Robert MacIntyre had an excellent debut at The Open, finishing tied for 6th after a final-round 68. Though he never really challeged for the claret jug during the week, he played a significant supporting role to the week's proceedings when, after Friday's round, he called out American playing partner Kyle Stanley neglecting to yell "Fore!" on two separate occasions of Stanley's wayward shots: the first, on the 14th hole, when his ball struck a marshal in the crowd; and on the 17th hole, when his ball struck the mother of MacIntyre's caddie.

Golf Channel's Brentley Romine runs down the MacIntyre-Stanley dustup.

Yelling "Fore!" anytime your shot might endanger somebody is so fundamental to the etiquette of the game that it tends to be one of the two or things that people who have no interest whatsoever in golf know about the game. A professional golfer, who plays among spectators dozens of times per year should be able to do it by instinct. And on links courses, where choppy terrain can create blind spots, this common courtesy is especially important.

Not only is this common courtesy, it's a potential matter of liability which such bodies as the New Jersey Supreme Court have pondered. Note to Kyle: when in doubt, shout it out.

Henrik SMASH!

2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson has a well-deserved reputation as one of the great iron players of his generation. Which made the utter shank he hit on Sunday all the more perplexing. The statuesque Swede has both one of golf's best senses of humor and one of its quickest tempers. You can probably guess which one surfaced at Portrush.

When do you want to see Portrush host The Open again?

How should golf solve slow play?

Is not yelling "Fore!" a big deal to you?

Got any good club-snap stories?

Sound off below!

49 Comments
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Get the Open back to Royal Portrush soon! I am 77 and would love to see it there again while I'm still alive. I played it in 2003, so it has special meaning to me.

Not yelling "Fore" is a very big deal to me ... hit once in the back myself.

Back as a teenager I snapped a 3 wood once (it deserved it). This was back before there were so many places to repair clubs - so I was without it most of the summer. Never broke one since..

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If you hit somebody 300 yards away, they probably wouldn't be able to hear fore anyway.

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Johnny Miller, Darren Clarke, now Stenson ...have all done so in a major event. Mine, however, are like grapes...they come in bunches. To his credit, Henrik went on to may a remarkable bogey.

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As a golfer whos held to a pace of play standard when I play at the club, all golfers should be held to same rules of play regardless of status.
Hitting moveable object(s) on the course results in no additional strokes on the card. Just play as it lies as long as the ball is not OB. If OB then rehit from orignal spot w\ 1 stroke or drop & take 2 shot penalty I think thats new? Yelling fore! is a must as I've hit way too many times by wayward misses!

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Play ready golf. Don't ask, don't touch the flag stick unless asked.

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In the vain of equity, if a players ball strikes a Marshall, scorers, etc. and rebounds out of bounds or into a hazard, he or she should be allowed a free drop within one club length of the point of impact.

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After the fantastic hosting of the Open at Portrush where the ghosts of the past history of conflict in the north of Ireland were truly consigned to the history books . Not forgetting those that suffered during those dark days on both sides.l believe that this open championship truly reflects “the new and inclusive Ireland we are all so desperate for. This has showed us all the importance of sport on this great island.let the Open return as soon as 2024 with Gmac and Harrington co hosting the event. Give them approved invitations and let us continue to build our global appeal. let us be an exciting example of how to break down barriers post conflict.A new Ireland a successful happy Ireland.

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The biggest problem with slow play was showcased before JB hit his first tee shot...why was he not ready to hit his first shot??? He still hadn’t pulled a club even though he was second to hit...just terrible...the other players could refuse to play with him. It would take a super star like Woods, Mickelson, koepka to simply walk off the course and withdraw. It would cost them prize money and a fine but it would be worth it...it may give them a better chance to win in a future tournament because we all knew Brooks was “toast” as soon as he was paired with JB...JB and othe slow players are simply selfish!!!

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If slow play requires a penalty and golfers are supposed to call penalties on themselves, why isn’t the discussion around slow play the same as it would be if a golfer was improving his lie without giving himself a penalty stroke? The caddie can maintain a shot clock for the player and at the end of the round the player can be informed from the governing body how many strokes are being added to his score for slow play.

Commented on

Had played Portrush a few years ago, the first course I played on my trip. Great, challenging, but fair course. For me a truly memorable introduction to links golf. Bring the Open back there soon, hopefully with similar results. Hard to imagine how crazy it would have been if one of the locals had been in contention, but after past history, was really special to hear all their support for Lowry; a credit to all the island, united together to celebrate one of their own.

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Open, closed: 4 takeaways from the decade's final major