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The Open: Reaction in Sandwich swings both ways to golf tournament’s return

By Eleanor Perkins

Hotels may already be fully booked but some Sandwich residents and businesses are sceptical about the return of The Open saying it turns the place into a “ghost town”.

With three years to go until the championship returns to Royal St George’s Golf Club, landlord of The King’s Arms, Richard Beard, has already sold all six rooms available in his Strand Street establishment.

He says they were booked before the formal announcement from The R&A on Monday. But while business is set to be booming, he says he can understand the concerns of other traders who aren’t in a prime position.

Landlord of The King's Arms, Richard Beard, has already sold every room in the hotel despite the event being three years away
Landlord of The King's Arms, Richard Beard, has already sold every room in the hotel despite the event being three years away

He said: “It is good news for me personally. I’m fully booked already. I’m fine because I’m on the main road through but people get miffed because the traffic is directed around them.

“Most cafes are only open in the day but that’s when people are down there watching the golf.”

Paul Amos, of Sandown Lees, remembered spectators were not allowed back into the venue if they left during the day, giving no advantage to local cafes.

He said: “Hardly anyone in the town benefits. All of the cars are directed out of Sandwich and last time they introduced a system where if you left the course during the day, you had to pay again to go back in. Therefore the small shops and cafes get no benefit.”

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

He added: “The only people that really get something out of it are the hotels and bed and breakfasts. For the rest of the people in the town, it’s a pain.”

Steve Banyard, of The Haven Cafe in King Street, has seen two golf championships take place in Sandwich. He said: “The one in 2003 was pretty good. The one in 2011 was very well organised but didn’t do much for the town.

“They set a silver command up – police, fire brigade and ambulance – at Sandwich Technology School, and shepherded the vehicles to the golf and out again and stopped everything coming into the town. It really killed off the town. Throughout the day it was like a ghost town.”

Roger Merrick, of Richborough Road, Sandwich, says the town doesn't gain anything from The Open
Roger Merrick, of Richborough Road, Sandwich, says the town doesn't gain anything from The Open

Roger Merrick, of Richborough Road, said: “The town doesn’t gain anything from The Open because they send everyone out.

“Unless you’ve got a house to rent out, it’s just rubbish. The town becomes very quiet.”

Claire Lupton, head of religious studies at Sir Roger Manwood’s School, had a more positive take on things.

She said: “Not only are people able to go, some people rent their house and others have businesses which benefit from the extra custom.”

Louise Audley, of Honfluer Road, commended organisers for reducing traffic chaos in the town.

She said: “There were no traffic problems last time. It was easy access around the town. They got everybody to park out of town and they were transported in.”

What’s your view on the return of The Open to Sandwich? Email mercurynews @thekmgroup.co.uk

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