The rain pounded on the umbrellas around the 17th green of the Royal Liverpool Golf Club one afternoon this past week, the air so cool it didn’t even feel like an English summer. A veil of fog clouded the landscape. Still close enough to look through, though, was the Welsh coast, a handful of long fairways across the estuary.

The British Open, scheduled to finish on Sunday, may never come close to Wales.

First played when Queen Victoria was on the throne, the Open is a national ritual that has embraced only so much of the nation: Unlike England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Wales has not hosted it. With venues up to 2026 already chosen and Wales still out, the drought will last at least as long as the first 154 Opens. Then, Northern Ireland, which did not welcome a modern Open until 2019, will have another.

The R&A, the organizer of the Open, explained Wales’ exclusion as a reminder of infrastructure and capability issues – no small issues as the tournament requires temporarily growing a hugely guarded, hospitality-filled and championship-caliber coastal enclave for tens of thousands of people a day. The R&A’s stance, however, has invited years of questions about whether one of the country’s signature sporting events reflects Britain as much as it should.

“Not all parts of Britain are affected by the Open, and to leave a whole nation out of it doesn’t ring true to that mantra of golf being open to all,” said Ken Skates, a member of the Welsh Parliament who, when he was economy minister, lobbied the R&A to bring the Open to Wales.

“It’s a bit frustrating,” he politely allowed as he stood behind Royal Liverpool’s first green on Friday.

Jockeying for hosting rights is hardly new to sports, and men’s golf is an especially valuable target for the multitude of places with courses tough enough to test the best in the world. Of the four important tournaments, three are played in different venues each year. (The exception, the Masters Tournament, is always held at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.)

The R&A’s list of Open-eligible courses effectively numbers just nine these days, from a smattering of Scottish properties along the North Sea to Royal St. George’s in southeast England. After this weekend’s event at Royal Liverpool, in the northwest of England, the tournament is scheduled to return next year to Royal Troon in Scotland, followed by Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and then England’s Royal Birkdale.

By almost all accounts, the R&A routinely faces a problem as to where the Open can be put on its usual standard. A handful of past venues are no longer in the mix, including Prestwick, the original Open course that was ultimately deemed too small for large crowds. More recently, former President Donald J. Trump’s connections to Turnberry have kept the R&A away.

Wales, however, never had a turn at all. Indeed, one of the biggest problems for Wales is that the R&A has stopped holding Opens at more courses than the country has contenders to host one. Only Royal Porthcawl is considered a possibility, and even its cheerleaders acknowledge its shortcomings.

The exclusion, however, stings.

“We have an inferiority complex,” John Hopkins, a golf writer who has been a member of Royal Porthcawl since the late 1990s, said of the Welsh people, adding with a smile that they were mainly famous “for our ability to play rugby and our ability to sing.”

But hosting a British Open, he said, “would show that we punched our weight in golf.”

Some believe that forces beyond tournament logistics are at work to preserve the Open elsewhere, perhaps historical inertia or an innate tendency for the St. Louis-based R&A. Andrews to favor England and Scotland. In 2019, The Telegraph urged the R&A to “cut out the politics” and “ignore the concerns about ‘infrastructure’ and the strength of the links as they are mere smokescreens.”

There is little doubt that the R&A has warmed to Royal Porthcawl for other major events, an approach that some have seen as a consolation prize. Next weekend, the Senior Open tournament will be decided there, and the Women’s Open is scheduled to debut in Royal Porthcawl in 2025. Although there are concerns about whether Royal Porthcawl is long enough for today’s powerful men players, the course itself is seen as mostly suitable for an open tournament, in part because it is especially vulnerable to the savage. in the tournament.

“One was bone dry: The ball ran 100 yards down the fairway,” Langer, who also won two Masters Tournaments, said in an interview. “And one was wet and windy and as miserable as could be, and that’s golf.”

Martin Slumbers, the R&A chief executive, said on Wednesday the course was “absolutely world class”.

“But we need a lot of land,” he quickly added. “We need a lot of infrastructure. We need a lot of facilities for a championship of this size. At the moment it’s just not possible in that part of the country.”

Founded in 1891, Royal Porthcawl has a tight footprint, with relatively little space to erect gates, grandstands, premium seating, winning tents and all the other temporary facilities required for a major. This year’s Open was expected to attract 260,000 spectators, a showing second only to the 290,000 fans who filled the Old Course at St. Andrews last year. The last time the British Open reported an attendance below 150,000 was a decade ago, at Muirfield.

When Langer last played a Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl, in 2017, the tournament drew around 32,000, although bad weather dogged the event.

Although the course is about a 45-minute drive from Cardiff, the Welsh capital, the area around the club has few of the restaurants, hotels and transit links that make the Open among the smoothest events in international sports. During this tournament at Royal Liverpool, many restaurants and rental houses in Hoylake hosted legions of visitors. Still more made the short journey to and from Liverpool, a city of around half a million people, often using a train service running every 10 minutes.

Langer, who had no doubts that Royal Porthcawl could prove a suitable Open host from a golfing perspective, seemed much more reluctant to say it could manage the other challenges of a tournament he has played 31 times.

“It is difficult,” he said, “to build new roads and highways and 100 hotels and create the room for a tent village and 50,000 spectators.”

Welsh leaders have signaled a willingness to pursue public investment in exchange for the Open to Royal Porthcawl, and some Royal Porthcawl members have tried to buy nearby farmland which, if vacated, could make an Open much more viable. But their many years of efforts have not yet yielded the kind of success that could overcome the R&A’s misgivings.

The rise of Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush, however, has given Welsh officials some strategy, or at least a dose of confidence, ultimately misplaced or not.

Skates predicted that the R&A could fold within a decade.

Then he wandered off to find his brother, Wales rising in the distance.

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