I share a curse with my friend Don Mayo.

I find it difficult to attend events without pausing to evaluate the activations, participant journey, signage, and layout. I suspect that we are not alone in this manner. It is probably a curse shared by many of us in this biz. No doubt we owe all of our friends and family we do this to as well!

Last weekend I was very fortunate to attend The Open at St. Andrew’s Links. The Old Course venue lived up to everything you may have seen on television or experienced yourself. Whether it be the milestone or the pandemic, the demand to attend this year was so strong the Royal & Ancient ad to resort to a ballot system for tickets.  I witnessed crowds of many happy attendees who were the lucky winners invited to join a record crowd of nearly 300,000 people. 

St. Andrews is a town of less than twenty-thousand, so the smooth hosting of one of the most prestigious events in the world is an incredible accomplishment. Calling the logistics smooth would be an understatement that does not give the experience due. The Open and the people involved deserve much more than that. From the ScotRail staff handing out free water to visitors to the countless volunteers marshalling the crowds across the fairways, they all deserve a standing ovation. 

This entry is an unofficial Scottish Tourism ad, and if the script for this blog is heading that way, it is deservedly so. It was my first time in Scotland, and somehow every single person we encountered was unbelievable. How can an entire country be s good-natured? Everyone we met from the Fountain Cafe on Grove St, where we had breakfast almost every day, to the young couple from Dundee celebrating their third wedding anniversary with a night out in Edinburgh, to the guest services team at the New Club in St. Andrews to the taxi driver in Eyemouth was the most pleasant, welcoming and gracious folks I have ever met. (PS  the “New Club’ in St. Andrews is a golf club founded in 1902. So relatively new by Scottish golf standards.)

Maybe it was the sun; we had a flawless week of weather; the end of BJ’s reign as British Prime Minister, which only came up every five minutes; or the aversion of a Tran strike; the people were happy happy happy. 

So, Mark, is that the secret to a great event? Have happy people involved? Maybe I say. The British Open was a smooth operation far beyond the logistics. The merchandise shop was a mall-sized footprint that felt like an Apple store for souvenirs. The Loch Lomond Whiskey bar execution was so flawless that you never stood in line for a cocktail. Lack of lineups also characterized the restrooms, the free onsite phone charging, and even the shuttle bus. 

There I go again about the logistics, but details done right with a smile are worth mentioning. Again and again.