AYRSHIRE, Scotland - One of the great joys of July for American golf fans is the chance to wake up early and watch links golf on the telly.
Check the battery in your remote. Never before has Scotland hosted such an epic run of professional events. In the next five weeks, Scotland will showcase its best links during three major championships - including the 150th Open at St. Andrews - and Scottish Opens for men and women with stacked fields like never before. It's the ultimate summer of championship golf in Scotland. Four of the five events will be televised by Golf Channel, NBC and/or Peacock, which can also be lived streamed through GolfPass.
"It's never happened before, and I don't think it ever will again," said Alan Grant, the senior golf manager for Visit Scotland who will be attending and promoting all five tournaments.
3 weeks of links golf for the guys
It all starts with this week's Genesis Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick, East Lothian. Most of the world's top 20 players will tee it up in the first tournament ever co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. Obviously, there will be some familiar names missing due to the PGA Tour ban and DP World Tour fines levied against players who have pledged their futures to the LIV Golf Series, namely Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey and Lee Westwood. Ian Poulter took legal action against the DP World Tour and has won a temporary stay to play in the event. Even without a few LIV stars, that shouldn't impact the quality of the competition overall. Tom Doak's Renaissance links is a popular choice, having hosted the past three years.
The Scottish Open will serve as the perfect tune-up for the golf spectacle of the year the following week: the 150th Open at St. Andrews July 14-17. Any Open on the Old Course is special, but The R&A has pulled out all the stops to make this one particularly memorable. Everything will be bigger - the grandstands, the crowds and the buzz. The return of Tiger Woods to competition should only crank up the intrigue. The Open will be televised on NBC.
Next up, even if watching the PGA Tour Champions doesn't typically interest you, the venue for The Senior Open presented by Rolex will. The over-50 crowd will tee off on the magnificent King's Course July 21-24 at Gleneagles in Perthshire. The King's Course, a James Braid design dating to 1924, hasn't been on TV this century. It hosted the Scottish Open from 1987-94 and was first seen around the globe in a made-for-TV competition featuring Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player in 1966. It's admirable that the R&A selected the shorter Kings Course over the brawnier PGA Centenary Course, the site of a rowdy Solheim Cup (2019) and Ryder Cup (2014) in recent years. Despite being a heathland course, King's features all the lovable links quirks - including blind shots and wild bounces - that the Centenary lacks. The final of the five senior majors will be televised by Golf Channel and NBC.
2 weeks of links golf for the gals
Move over, guys. The women anchor the home stretch. Dundonald, a modern links by Kyle Phillips, completes the rare Scottish Open double by hosting the Trust Golf Women's Scottish Open July 28-31 in Ayrshire along Scotland's West Coast. The course, which last hosted the event from 2015-17 as well as the 2017 Scottish Open won by Rafa Cabrera-Bello, has been enhanced recently under new owners, Darwin Escapes. New tees, bunker tweaks and improved conditions will greet a stacked field that, like the men, will show up to prep for a major the following week. The event's strongest field ever includes World No. 1 Jin Young Ko and 2022 major champions Minjee Lee, Jennifer Kupcho and In Gee Chun.
Every player who shows up will be spoiled by the new onsite accommodations and fine food served in the new clubhouse. They won't face any blind shots, but there are a few burns; dozens of deep sod-wall, revetted bunkers and enough wind and weather to give them a taste of proper links golf. Only the railway and neighboring club Western Gailes separate Dundonald from the Firth of Clyde. The tournament will be televisted by Sky Sports in the United Kingdom and Golf Channel in the U.S.
Last but never least comes the AIG Women's Open at Muirfield Aug. 4-7. This will be the first time the ladies compete at Muirfield, one of the fairest, and toughest, of all links tests. Muirfield voted to allow its first female members in 2017, so this major means a lot to the women's game. They're finally being treated on equal ground to the men. The AIG Women's Open will be televised by Sky Sports in the UK and both NBC and Golf Channel in America.
Five weeks, five courses, five events - all for the love of Scottish links golf.
Which tournament or golf course will you be watching? Let us know in the comments below.