British major championship week: Guide to the 146th staging of The Open at Royal Birkdale

The 2017 Open returns to a favorite venue, Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England. Since 1954, when it first hosted the event, it's been among the most popular venues along with Royal Lytham behind of course the Old Course in St. Andrews. It last hosted the championship in 2008 when Padraig Harrington prevailed to win his second claret jug in a row.

The links is particularly famous for a shot in 1961 hit by Arnold Palmer in the final round that was played out of a blackberry bush. A plaque commemorates the occasion and can be found today. Palmer would eventually win his first of back-to-back Golf Champion Trophies, otherwise known as the claret jug.

This week's favorites are highlighted by Dustin Johnson (10/1) and John Rahm, who won the DDF Irish Open (12/1), while defending champion Henrik Stenson is 25/1. Golf Channel's Will Gray has a breakdown of the current odds for fantasy golf and bet shops. Sports betting on golf is of course legal in the United Kingdom and a favorite pastime for spectators of The Open.

What is the history of Royal Birkdale?

Birkdale Golf Club was founded in 1889 but didn't move to its present location until 1894 (it was awarded its "Royal" status in 1951 by Queen Elizabeth II). The links in its current form can be most attributed to the work done beginnning in 1922 by Fred Hawtree and J.H. Taylor. Its first Open was staged in 1954, but only because the 1940 Open, scheduled for Birkdale, was cancelled due to World War II. More updates were made to the links and facilities following the 1961 Open.

It's a popular venue for top championships and has also hosted the Ryder Cup (1965, 1969), Walker Cup (1951), the Senior Open Championship (2013) and British Women's Open (2014).

Video: Top 10 memorable moments at Royal Birkdale

Who designed the famous clubhouse at Royal Birkdale?

The white, art deco clubhouse of Royal Birkdale is certainly one of the most striking facilities in the Open rota. It was built in the 1930s by architect George Tong and intended to resemble that of a ship at sea.

How can I watch The Open on TV and streaming online?

Beginning in 2016, NBC and Golf Channel assumed the programming rights for The Open thru 2028. The two networks will feature nearly 140 hours of live tournament coverage including Live From throughout the week.

Streaming coverage can be found at Golf Channel, as well as complementary featured pairings and holes on For more details, click here. You can also access a live Open Championship leaderboard and streaming using a mobile device on the Golf Channel app.

Spectator and ticketing information for the Open at Royal Birkdale

According to tickets are still available for the championship. Weekly tickets are 255 pounds, youth weekly tickets 155 pounds and daily tickets are 10-65 pounds. Children under 16 attend free and camping is available near the course. One of the truly great things about attending an Open for Americans is the chance to get there by train. Many of the links on the rota are within a short walk of a train station and so those staying in Liverpool can easily access the grounds without having to hire a car. Special service for spectators will be operating every 15 minutes along with normal service that will be running as scheduled. Visit the Merseyside travel planner for fare and route details.

For more parking and transportation info, visit's parking tickets page.

Can I play Royal Birkdale?

Even though they are traditional in many regards, British clubs are generally far more receptive to outside play, and Royal Birkdale is no exception. The club is one of many excellent courses in the holiday town of Southport. Green fees can be booked online for 205-215 in the peak season and 155-190 off-season.

Groups who visit this part of England can play three championship Open links, including Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes. Golf Channel's Rex Hoggard wrote this trip report on his group's visit to the links of Northwest England, which is also referred to as "England's Golf Coast" not just for its tournament venues but sheer quantity of excellent courses, many of them historic links. Nearby Hillside Golf Club is another top option that was opened in 1923 but was updated in modern times by Donald Steele and Martin Hawtree.

Why is the British Open now just called 'The Open'?

The British Open, also called for a long while as "The Open Championship," is staged by the R&A, who have officially titled the tournament 'The Open' in honor of its place as the game's first championship, originally staged in 1860. The British themselves have frankly never called the championship the "British Open," which was used by media and golfers from other countries. Through the first half of the 20th century, the U.S. Open, and U.S. Amateur were much more prominent tournaments in the eyes of the global golf media. That is until Arnold Palmer came to his first "British Open" in 1960 at St. Andrews and eventually it became considered a "major championship."

It is also worth mentioning that when the first Open was announced, officials said the event was "open to the world" and today, qualification takes place on five continents. Also, no event minutes or literature from the tournament committee has ever mentioned the event as the "British Open."

What is a links golf course?

The Open is and has always been held on a "links" golf course. The definition of such is very precise or vague depending on who you ask. But in its purest form, it is a golf course set on a piece of sandy, seaside land. Playing links golf often comes at the mercy of the elements. Traditionally, many links courses haven't used irrigation (though more do today), so an Open's conditions could be very brown and dry (like Muirfield in 2013) or instead wet and soft, if rain has been heavy in the United Kingdom. As the game of golf was exported to the far corners of the world, the term "links" often became a synonym for a golf course, and many courses have "links" in their title that aren't truly links.

How much money do you get for winning the British Open?

In a twist for 2017, the winner of The Open will be paid in U.S. dollars and not British pounds for the first time. The total purse is $10.25 million and the winner will receive $1.845 million (runner-up still receives over $1 million).

How does that compare to the other majors? The U.S. Open awarded from a $12 million purse and Brooks Koepka earned over $2 million for winning. The Masters awarded an $11 million purse, with Sergio Garcia receiving just under $2 million. The PGA Championship has not announced its 2017 purse yet, but in 2016 paid out $10 million with Jimmy Walker earning $1.8 million.


Related Links

The Open is the oldest major of them all, going back all the way to 1860, but it is also the most democratic. Here's a guide to the 14 historic links you can play.
14 Images
Golfers love to play where the pros play. Why not play where they face the most pressure? These 32 courses that hosted a major championship are open to the public. Here are the courses I'd like to play the most.
12 Min Read
Back in the day, Arnie's Army breathed life back into golf. Why not march in Palmer's footsteps for a trip down memory lane? Here are 10 public courses where the King ruled.
3 Min Read
More from the author
2 Min Read
August 30, 2023
A golf lottery you *might* actually win is open until Sept. 6, and other insider travel notes.
4 Min Read
July 30, 2023
The new golf course mini-boom is going to really tantalize golfers come 2024 and 2025.
2 Min Read
July 14, 2023
The 151st Open Championship returns to Royal Liverpool where Rory McIlroy won in 2014.
3 Min Read
July 5, 2023
Learn about a new 2024 PGA Tour venue open to the public and more in this month's column.
3 Min Read
June 14, 2023
L.A.C.C. hosts the U.S. Open for the first time in 2023.
4 Min Read
June 10, 2023
Better known as a concrete jungle, the City of Angels does offer some public green spaces for golfers.
2 Min Read
September 6, 2023
Golf course logos come in a huge variety of styles, making hats, shirts and other accessories from pro shops very collectible. What are your favorite logos?
4 Min Read
September 14, 2023
Here's a look at the history of golf handicaps, how they are calculated, and where you can get one.
12 Min Read
August 30, 2023
Get to know every hole at the Home of Golf, the mother of golf courses around the world.
2 Min Read
September 6, 2023
This terrific twosome in Nisswa, Minnesota, is one of the anchors of golf in Brainerd, one of the Midwest's best golf destinations.
Now Reading
British major championship week: Guide to the 146th staging of The Open at Royal Birkdale