Harriet Shephard explains why entering Royal Troon this week wasn't as simple as just turning up.
As a grown adult, it’s not often that I’m banished to my room for the evening.
But then again, these really aren’t normal times for any of us.
Arriving at Royal Troon yesterday afternoon the sun was shining, the ocean was glimmering and the course, found right on the doorstep of my accommodation at The Marine Hotel, looked absolutely stunning.
It was a wonderous scene and I couldn’t wait to get out there.
But, despite the fact that I could see some of the world’s best golfers doing their practice rounds just a few metres away, I couldn’t rush out and join them.
After all, hosting a Major golf tournament during a global pandemic is a complex procedure.
Going to the Women's Open is always incredibly special (I had the best time at the Ricoh Women's British Open at Woburn in 2016), but during a worldwide crisis, it’s an honour that no words can describe.
Only six members of the media have accreditation to the 2020 AIG Women’s Open, and I’m so lucky to be one of them.
But this access was granted on a few conditions; perhaps the most vital being that I take a COVID-19 test before I even step one foot onto the course.
So it was that I spent my first afternoon at Troon getting tested in a portacabin in the carpark, and then isolating in my hotel room until the result came back. Fortunately, this only took only five hours and most importantly, it was negative. Hooray!
This would have been quite a different week if it hadn't that's for sure...
However, while this meant I was free to leave my room from about 9pm on the Wednesday night, the next condition was that I couldn’t go anywhere except for the course and the hotel for the whole duration of my time at the Women’s Open.
This meant no exploring the town, walks on the beach or going out to any bars or restaurants until I was ready to leave on Sunday night.
I'm only allowed to run around the Portland Course for exercise.
Sitting here in the media centre on Day One I have to admit that I’m slightly disappointed that I can’t explore any of this gorgeous area, but it’s a small price to pay for getting in.
Plus, as there’s so much going on at the tournament, why would I want to leave anyway?
It's like being imprisoned in a golf-fan's paradise, so obviously I'm absolutely loving it.
However, inside there are rules to remember, too.
I get my temperature checked every time I enter, and masks are worn pretty much everywhere, even outside.
Plus, unlike everywhere else in life this is actually enforced by security guards coming round and politely but firmly asking you to put your masks on in a rather aggressive Scottish accent (yikes).
I also have to complete a daily COVID symptom report every morning and I have to keep two metres apart from EVERYONE, unless I have a buddy (I don’t).
The players follow all the above rules too, except for they are in a hotel in Glasgow and they can only really sit with, eat with and be close to their caddy.
They also wear their masks all the time too, including walking from the range to the putting green and when processing their scores.
I even noticed a few wearing them whilst playing.
All our interviews are done two metres apart or even virtually over Zoom with players sitting in a seperate tent, plus every table, whether its in the media centre or outside the food and beverage stand, is carefully seperated too.
Basically, it’s a good job I like my own company and don't even get me started on how strange (but nice and quiet) it is without any crowds and fans.
That's a blog for another day...
Everything feels so safe, organised and sanitised. AIG, the R&A and all the organisers have really done a fantastic job.
It's so brilliant for women's golf that this event was able to go ahead and, even though I'm only one day into my 2020 AIG Women's Open experience, I already know it will be one that I'll never forget.
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