Get ready for The Open Championship

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The Open Championship, also known as The Open or the British Open, is one of Golf's four "major" tournaments – and the only one held outside the United States. Unlike other British blue riband sporting events such as Wimbledon or the British Grand Prix, The Open rotates between host courses on a yearly basis – and 2015 sees it returning to the Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland.

The event is the oldest of the four majors and was first held in Prestwick, Scotland, way back in 1860. Since then it has been held north of the border another 59 times, 49 times in England and once in Northern Ireland. The other courses on the current rotation are Muirfield, Royal Troon, Carnoustie, Turnberry, Royal St George's, Royal Liverpool, Royal Lytham & St Annes, Royal Birkdale and Royal Portrush.

The unique characteristic of the tournament is that it is always played on a "links"-style course.These are usually on or very close to the coast and are typified by sand dunes and an open aspect, with few water hazards and even fewer trees.

Played over four days, The Open is a 72-hole stroke play tournament – with the winner simply being the one to complete the 72 holes in the fewest strokes. The entry is currently limited to 156 players, with the sport's elite invited to take many of the spots and the rest filled via a series of qualifying events. This year's event takes place between 12 and 19 July.

Reigning champion Rory McIlroy is tipped by the bookies to retain his crown this year, with odds of 5/1 currently on offer for the Northern Irishman. Young American Jordan Spieth is close behind him on 7/1, having already clinched the year's first two majors.
But while that might make him the hot favourite in some minds, McIlroy has signalled his intention to return to the dominating form he had at the Open last year – and he enjoys playing on links courses. Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Adam Scott trail them on odds of 18/1, 20/1 and 25/1 respectively*.

Seeing it in the flesh
Located between Edinburgh and Dundee on the east coast of Scotland, it's not difficult to access the course by road or rail – and there are wide choice of ticket prices (and levels of accompanying luxury).

Prices start at £15 for a practice day ticket, to £80 for one of the finals days – or £260 for the whole week if you're really keen. But it's possible to spend much more by opting to pay for access to the Greenside Club's marquee - which also entitles you to a reserved seat in the grandstand at the 18th hole. That will set you back up to £255 for a day or £620 for the week.

If you are visiting then you have a wealth of accommodation options. Edinburgh has a huge number of hotel and B&B rooms – and of course has a thriving nightlife if you've worked up a thirst with all that spectating. If you want something quieter, the Fife coast is dotted with charming villages and towns such as St Andrews itself or the lovely East Neuk.
The Open Accommodation Bureau will be able to advise if you need help finding somewhere to stay or with logistics.

On the small screen
The BBC will provide live coverage of the event as well as highlights.

* Odds correct at time of writing, but are likely to change.

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