The east coast of Scotland was bathed in glorious sunshine on Thursday as the colourful and characterful Alfred Dunhill Links Championship began.
Play started under clear blue skies and in almost a flat calm for the opening morning of the 12th edition of the unique Pro-Am event that sees European Tour professionals play alongside celebrity amateurs across three of the world’s finest links layouts at St Andrews and Kingsbarns in Fife and Carnoustie in Angus.
Not generally known for its temperate climate during the first week of October, the three famous courses looked resplendent as always on a chilly but bright day, as a field featuring top-class golfing talent in the likes of Ryder Cup stars Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Paul Lawrie and Dustin Johnson was bolstered as always by a crop of star names of a different ilk.
Famed Olympians such as 18-time gold medallist Michael Phelps – playing alongside England’s Paul Casey at Carnoustie on Thursday morning, ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius, rowing knights Sir Matthew Pinsent and Sir Steve Redgrave joined other golfing greats in Open Champion Ernie Els, 2011 Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel and 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen to name but a few.
Hollywood stars Bill Murray and Greg Kinnear can be seen this week teaming up with David Howell and Alvaro Quiros respectively in what is always a somewhat surreal blend of golf and star-studded celebrity spotting.
Many of the marquee groups of round one were playing their first rounds at Carnoustie, which has hosted The Open Championship seven times.
And despite the assortment of fame and fortune on display this week, however, the real stars of the show are the three courses on which the professionals and amateurs will together do battle.
For the 12th time, the elite of the golfing world, sports, entertainment, and business have flocked to Fife and Angus, to play the world’s oldest sport on some of its most cherished turf.
From the historic Road Hole at St Andrews, to the beastly test at Carnoustie and the new-links style of Kingsbarns, the Dunhill Links continues to be a fitting tribute to and celebration of links golf at its very finest.