The R&A blaming rogue hospitality operators for its ‘no re-admissions’ policy at next year’s Open in Carnoustie has been branded a smokescreen.
David Valentine, who owns Simpsons of Carnoustie golf shop, said “no one really believes the R&A’s new policy is about protecting the public from rogue hospitality operators”.
But golf’s governing body rubbished the suggestion and said it had received “numerous complaints” from businesses who have been the victim of mis-selling by unofficial providers of tickets and hospitality packages.
Mr Valentine, who chaired the group responsible for staging the last Open at Carnoustie in 2007, said: “Most people believe their aim is to corral paying guests, so their only option is to buy the on-course merchandise, food and drink.
“Traders in the High Street will most definitely suffer and the traditional carnival atmosphere of The Open will be sadly diminished.
“With official packages costing between £420 and £900 per person, many local families, clubs and local companies will be unable to combine a celebratory get together in their home, club or local hostelry with the customary access to what will be one of the world’s greatest sporting events.
“I’m a great supporter of The Open at Carnoustie but the R&A should treat the town and trade of Carnoustie with a lot more respect.
“In my previous role as Angus Council’s Head of Economic Development and Consumer Protection, I was privileged to chair the group responsible for staging the last Open in 2007.
“We didn’t suffer from fraudulent miss-selling of hospitality packages then and most people know there is no need to fear from it in 2018.
“The R&A’s new policy is like taking a driver to sink a two-inch putt — something the ruling body should take another look at.”
The ‘no re’admissions’ policy was introduced at this year’s Open at Royal Birkdale and Angus Council pursued the issue with the R&A after concerns were raised that businesses in Carnoustie would suffer if the policy was retained next year.
The R&A said the admissions policy has been “reviewed and updated” after being assessed following the conclusion of the tournament and fans “will not be permitted to re-enter the venue after leaving Carnoustie”.
A spokesman for The R&A said: “The Open is one of the world’s great sporting events and will generate tens of millions of pounds of economic benefit for the Carnoustie region.
“We have received numerous complaints from businesses who have been the victim of mis-selling by unofficial providers of tickets and hospitality packages and we have a responsibility to our spectators to take measures to prevent these practices.
“We are working closely with Angus Council and Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce to warn businesses of this issue and ensure that they enjoy a fantastic experience at the Championship.”
The R&A previously said the policy proved an effective deterrent to these unofficial operators and was well received by more than 235,000 spectators who attended the Championship at Royal Birkdale.