Sports Journalism student James Cranford gives his reflections on what it was like to work with press accreditation during the recent Open golf championship at the Royal Liverpool course in Hoylake.
I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to cover The Open Championship for MerseySport Live.
Golf fans in the North West are lucky, given that two of the Open courses are only a Merseyrail journey away from Liverpool. With the exception of the Grand National, it is one of the few non-footballing sporting events to take place in the area that attracts huge international media and spectator interest.
I arrived on Wednesday. No sooner had I received my accreditation and got my bearings, I was sat in Tommy Fleetwood’s press conference, listening to one of the tournament favourites. The fella with the long hair off the telly was now about 15 feet away and having to answer a question – unfortunately for him – about Everton.
It was amazing how normal it became being so close to athletes I have watched achieve amazing things. There’s Jordan Spieth practising his chipping. There’s Jason Day being bothered for an autograph by a load of little Scouse kids. There’s Gareth Bale sneaking out of a secret exit. People talk about imposter syndrome – thankfully the media centre was somewhere I felt comfortable and was somewhere I would like to return to in the future, with any luck.
The staff from the R&A were all extremely polite and friendly. Your accreditation is checked several times a day – there were a few instances of supporters trying to blag their way into areas that would get them closer to the players, so the staff guarding these areas could be forgiven for growing a little impatient. I was greeted with a smile every time.
I enjoyed getting out on the course and talking to the public. As a general rule, the American fans were extremely friendly, happy to talk to me and help out with MSL’s social media content. The Brits tended to be warier of somebody trying to stick a camera in their face, but I was able to shoot and edit some videos which gave a good flavour of what it was like out on the course. If you time it right, you can watch Rory McIlroy take a tee shot from barely more than arm’s length away. You can’t stand next to Lionel Messi while he takes a penalty.
Overall, I had a great week. It was mentally and physically tiring; I would wolf my lunch down quickly so I could get back to the action – the first time that has ever happened in a workplace environment! I broke the ‘golden rule’ and forgot my phone charger on the Sunday, my rainproof coat was anything but, my feet were soaked for the entire day – but it was all worth it.
I would love to cover The Open in the future. It comes to Royal Birkdale in 2026… I hope to see you there.