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Sandwich Town Council prepares to cope with record golf crowds at 2020 Open

By Eleanor Perkins

A record-breaking attendance at this year’s golf Open has reminded authorities that transport links to Sandwich must be improved before the tournament returns in 2020.

A crowd of 235,000 attended The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale, setting an attendance record for a championship staged outside of St Andrews in Scotland.

This year’s attendance surpassed the 230,000 mark set at Royal Liverpool in 2006, making it the largest ever to be held in England and reflects a 17% increase since The Open last visited Royal Birkdale in 2008.

Darren Clarke wins The Open in 2011, the last time it was held at Royal St George's
Darren Clarke wins The Open in 2011, the last time it was held at Royal St George's

Early discussions to rectify problems of previous years and ensure Sandwich is prepared for the high number of visitors have already taken place and one idea is to permanently extend the Sandwich Railway Station’s platform.

A new pedestrian route bypassing the town has already been outlined for 2020. It will run from the railway station, along the back of Sir Roger Manwood’s playing fields directly to the course. Another idea is to create more smart temporary accommodation.

The Mayor of Sandwich, Cllr Paul Graeme, said: “We know that we’re going to get bigger crowds than before and we know that the transport management needs to be slick and better.

“A project board has been set up which will definitely ensure the Open is more successful than in 2011.”

Sandwich Town Council has met Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, and is working with The R&A and Dover District Council.

Representatives from Kent County Council and Dover council have met Sefton Council and Angus Council to talk about the organisation of this year’s event at Royal Birkdale, and next year’s at Carnoustie, to discuss access and event management matters.

A Dover council spokesman said: “We are working closely with a wide range of partners.

“These include Kent County Council, Kent Police, Southeastern, Network Rail, Royal St George’s, The R&A, Kent and Medway Economic Partnership, South East Local Enterprise Partnership and our neighbouring local authorities to prepare to welcome the Open back in 2020.”

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