Published: 13:30, 11 July 2019
| Updated: 16:17, 13 February 2020
The countdown to The Open golf championship's return to Sandwich is well and truly on.
Royal St George’s will welcome the world’s best for the 15th time in 2020 along with hundreds of thousands of spectators hungry for a taste of the action.
The major sporting event is from Sunday, July 12 to Sunday, July 19, and here's everything you need to know including how to get your hands of tickets, how best to travel and where to stay.
Hear from the club's general manager below
How do I get tickets?
Tickets for The Open 2020 went on sale on Monday, July 1 but hospitality packages starting from £350 were available before then.
To get your hands on these tickets, you have to be a member of The One Club. It is free to join (register here), although you must be at least 16 years old.
It will give you priority access, with general admission tickets going live later in the summer.
Exact tickets prices have not been released and but as a ballpark figure, one adult day ticket for this year's championship at Royal Portrush would set you back £90.
Director of corporate communications Mike Woodcock has revealed to KentOnline that ticket prices will be cheaper, the earlier they're bought.
He said: "We're very excited to be releasing tickets for The Open 2020 which promises to be another fantastic championship.
"With the rise in demand in golf championships, we would certainly encourage people to buy early and look out for the early price offer that we give to One Club members."
The R&A haven't divulge how many tickets are up for grabs but say they are expecting bigger crowds than 2011, which would mean more than 181,000 people.
More than 20% of stubs were sold in the first 48 hours of last year's release, with an estimated 215,000 spectators descending on the Antrim coast course.
When buying tickets remember practise days are Sunday to Wednesday with championship days from Thursday to Sunday.
The maximum number of tickets one person can buy is four.
Will travelling by train be easy?
Train: With tens of thousands travelling by train to the Open, a multi-million pound deal has been agreed to extend Sandwich Railway Station's platform.
It is aimed at making the Open week experience easier for both visitors and residents.
Network Rail will be extending both platforms at the Dover end of the station by 80 metres, so they can fully accommodate 12-carriage trains.
This means trains will no longer straddle the level crossing in Dover Road and cause disruption to local traffic.
The investment is also thought to mean that The Open will return to Sandwich at least three more times in the future - although this has not been confirmed.
Other permanent improvements will include a new stepped footbridge which will link the extended platforms, along with a new walkway from the extended platform 1, to the start of the field linking Sandwich Station to Royal St George’s Golf Club.
In turn, this prevents passengers from walking through residential streets such as St George's Road.
Some 15,000 passengers are expected to disembark from the extended 12-carriage trains which, according Philip Whicher, project manager for Network Rail, must be guided off the platform within eight minutes and out of the station within 12 minutes.
Provision will be made for the disabled with Southeastern working on an accessible minibus shuttle operating to and from the station. More details are expected in later months.
Station works commenced in November 2019 and are scheduled to be complete by May 2020. One of the final stages is to install the new footbridge which will be delivered to the site on May 17.
The station will remain in operation throughout the work, which is not expected to affect passengers from Sir Roger Manwoods and Sandwich Technology School.
Although, there will be two weekend closures to avoid disruption for weekday commuters. A replacement bus service will operate.
The new infrastructure will be closed off to the public outside of the event.
Southeastern is yet to announce its adapted train timetable for the week of the event but it is expected to be made public 12 weeks before the start, which would be Sunday, April 19, 2020.
The train operator said not all trains will be made up of 12 carriages during The Open week because of limited stock.
Can I travel by car?
Yes, but if you're planning on driving to the event, be aware that there will be parking restrictions on the main routes to and from the course to support traffic flows and prevent on-street parking by spectators.
Instead, two park and ride services will be available from the north and south of Sandwich with capacity for 10,000 cars.
This is expected to reduce the number of cars parked locally to the venue by 50% compared to 2011.
The location of the park and ride sites has not been revealed yet but possible sites are in Tilmanstone and Manston.
This means it will be one-way northbound for inbound traffic (likely to be from 6am and 2pm) and change to one-way southbound for exiting traffic (likely between 2pm and 10pm).
Ash Road will be maintained as a local access route with 'no Championship traffic' signposted in this direction to allow local residents to go about their day with as little disruption as possible.
A transport plan will be developed with car stickers for locals nearby. Householders will be contacted about this individually by letter during the spring of 2020.
More detailed information on exact restrictions and routes will be available in spring 2020.
Can I leave the site during the day?
There is a strict no re-admission policy for spectators in place by the R&A at The Open 2020.
This is believed to be due to problems with unofficial hospitality providers operating outside the site.
Once inside the tournament, a wide selection of food and drink will be available from The Open Village. There will also be a shop.
Can I take my own food and drink?
Spectators can take their own food and drink into The Open, excluding alcohol. All bags may be subject to search.
Following the success of The Open Water initiative at Royal Portrush 2019, spectators will, again, be encouraged to take in their own re-usable drinks flask.
Alternatively, a limited number of special edition reusable stainless steel bottles will be available for fans to buy.
Water refilling stations available around the site.
Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said, “The Open has a close relationship with nature and the coastal system of the world’s finest links courses and it is important that we safeguard them for future generations.
“We have all learned so much of the destructive impact of plastic in the world’s oceans and we believe we have to take steps to remove all single-use plastic water bottles from The Open in order to encourage fans and players to use alternative and more sustainable materials.”
Where can I stay?
Demand can be high for accommodation, so much so that many pubs and hotels, especially in the immediate vicinity, reported to be fully booked before the official announcement was made public.
Therefore many residents in Sandwich and neighbouring towns like Deal, Dover and Canterbury choose to rent out their homes out.
In previous years, Colebrook Sturrock was appointed by the R&A as the sole official letting agent for the championship.
Airbnb prices have soared in the area as a result of the championship, with one owner charging golf fans almost £45,000 for a five-night stay - more than triple the usual price.
A designated camping and glamping area will also feature as part The Open 2020 in Sandwich.
Tom Critchley, director of Caboose & Co which operates The Open Camping Village on behalf of The R&A, said the relatively new scheme is now the only reason some families return to the international event.
The facility which will feature tents for one to six people and glamping teepees has capacity for 2,200 people and will be set up in a field off Sandown Road.
It will be positioned along the new path being created for visitors from Sandwich Railway Station to the venue, Royal St George’s Golf Club.
The main pull, Mr Critchley believes, is its affordability which was the key focus behind its launch five years ago.
It is free for anyone under 25, otherwise prices start from £40-60 a night for camping and £150 for two people for glamping.
The site will boast a family area with food and drink, many of which is locally sourced, and live music until 10pm in the evenings.
There will also be games for children, two football pitches, shower facilities, a pamper tent with mirrors and power sockets, and 24-hour security.
There is a minimum stay of two nights and guests must present their ticket number when they book.
Bookings for the Saturday night have almost sold out.
Will local schools be open?
Both secondary schools in the town - Sir Roger Manwood's and Sandwich Technology School - will close for the week while the event is staged.
But Sandwich Infant and Junior schools will remain open.
Headteachers will be provided with information about the local traffic plan to share with parents.
How will Sandwich residents be affected?
Two drop-in sessions to help residents keep up to date with plans for The Open 2020 and how they might be affected have already taken place.
They were both held at Sandwich Guildhall with representatives from the R&A, Dover District Council, Kent County Council, Network Rail, Southeastern available to answer questions.
One final session will be held from 11am until 8pm on Monday, May 11 at the same venue.
The impact of The Open on residents will not only be during the tournament but before and after.
It will take five months to build and de-rig the stage and facilities required.
This will start in April and conclude in August.
Residents worried about how The Open will affect their refuse collection will be informed of any changes.
If your collection day falls on a championship day (Thursday to Sunday) collection may be made earlier in the day or on a alternative day.
Residents should be aware that enhanced street cleansing will be carried out during the event.
Some roads will require permits but each household will be contacted individually by letter during the spring of 2020.
Will the Guildhall Forecourt works be completed in time for The Open?
Sandwich Town Council had outlined plans to transform the Guildhall Forecourt in time for the Open.
The approved £1million+ transformation includes resurfacing along with the installation of a new bus shelter, seating, water fountain and lighting and is aimed to transform the town for tourists.
It has now been confirmed that the modernisation will not go ahead until after The Open.
However, £75,000 from The Open Legacy Fund - will go towards this project.
The initiative run by The R&A is aimed at leaving a positive and long-lasting impact on the local environment and communities in which The Open is staged.
A Green Initiatives Grant Programme will also be launched by The R&A, Dover District Council and Sandwich Town Council to enable community groups and organisations in Sandwich to apply for funding to support initiatives that provide social, environmental and health and well-being benefits for the town and its residents.
Other efforts have been made to make the town more attractive ahead of the championship.
Sandwich in Bloom launched a programme to beautify to town with floral displays.
Residents referred to the town as a 'ghost town' during the last Open and so this year are working to encourage more people to visit.
More by this authorEleanor Perkins
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