- Golfer Benefits
It’s not every day that the game of golf is celebrated at Scotland’s historic St. Andrews, but Sarah McMurdy was part of the magic at the 150th Open Championship thanks to Mass Golf and Delta Vacations’ Visit Scotland Sweepstakes.
“It was so great to be part of the 150th Open located at St. Andrews, the home of golf,” McMurdy said. “To walk the course that has turned so many players into legends was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was also remarkable to watch Cam Smith win his first major.”
McMurdy, a former Bryant University golfer, had previously attended the Masters and multiple U.S. Open Championships, but still had yet to check the British Open off of her list. When her boyfriend Michael McLaughlin sent her the link to the sweepstakes, she decided to enter her name even though she didn’t think she had much of a chance to win.
When she was contacted by Mass Golf to inform her that she had won, she almost didn’t believe that she would be heading to Scotland in a few weeks’ time.
“I was shocked. I thought it was someone pranking me,” she joked.
Once she started to receive travel documents and trip details, the fact that she would be at the historic Open Championship finally began to sink in. With less than a month to go before their departure, McMurdy and McLaughlin quickly prepared to venture across the pond.
When they arrived in Scotland, they explored what Edinburgh had to offer and went on small group tours arranged by Delta Vacations and Visit Scotland, including a castle tour and a distillery tour. They also took advantage of the opportunity to play rounds at the picturesque Gullane and Kilspindie Golf Clubs.
“It was really fun to be able to go out and play and see the countryside and experience some of their golf courses,” McMurdy said.
From there, the pair headed to St. Andrews for the last two days of the Open Championship.
“It was just an unbelievable experience,” McMurdy said. “People were just really friendly. We walked the course, it was much hillier and firmer than I would have ever expected. The grass was so short, it was like hitting off pavement. It’s much different than what you see on television.”
McMurdy and McLaughlin were able to secure prime viewing vantage points throughout the course, including a spot near the 17th hole that ultimately impacted the final-round duel between Rory McIlroy and eventual winner Smith.
“We sat on the 17th green, the 18th tee box for the majority of the tournament,” McMurdy said. “And that hole was just so challenging, either people bogeyed it or they parred it, but it was all about the approach shot in on that green. We watched Jordan Spieth putt it from the road and save his par on Sunday. We were fortunate to stand probably one person back when Rory missed that flushed putt on 17 on the last day and then we saw Cam go through, just hearing the crowds roaring was unbelievable.”
McMurdy said that one of her favorite parts of the championship was being able to stand close to players, and she and McLaughlin were even able to hear what some golfers discussed with their caddies. However, she also enjoyed the sense of community created by spectators from around the world coming together to root for the same competitors.
After her trip, McMurdy offered the following advice for other Massachusetts golfers interested in attending a major: “Overall, the experience was fantastic. As I move forward, I would have never thought of Delta Vacations as planning a trip to a golf location. I would highly recommend Mass Golf members to look into that before going to some of these historical events or activities when planning a vacation.”
McMurdy also had the opportunity to meet with Delta Air Lines Senior Account Executive Barbara Tasho and her husband Steve, a Mass Golf regular and former Senior Four-Ball Champion, who traveled to Scotland together on behalf of Delta.
In fact, it was a Mass Golf logo on Steve’s shirt that caught McMurdy’s eye in the lobby of her hotel one day, prompting a chance meetup her, McLaughlin and the Tashos.
“It was just so great,” McMurdy said. “We met them and then I didn’t realize they were going to the Open that day and we actually ran into them at lunch too. But it was great just to see some fellow colleagues there and also catch up. I had never met with Steve before but also just talking through golf courses with him and just reenacting some of the shots that we had seen.”
“They just were so happy, so that made me really happy and just to have someone in the U.S. be there to have this experience, I mean, not everybody gets to have this,” Barbara Tasho added. “So just to be around the sweepstakes winners that did it and just see the joy in their face was really so heartwarming, it was great.”
Delta Air Lines District Sales Manager Candice Stover, who played a major role in bringing the sweepstakes to life, echoed Tasho’s sentiment.
“It was amazing to see,” Stover said. “I knew it was going to be a fantastic trip, but to see it all come to fruition and the amazing pictures and testimony that Sarah had really just made it solid that we have a great relationship with Mass Golf.”
Mass Golf is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to advancing golf in Massachusetts by building an engaged community around the sport.
With a community made up of over 100,000 golf enthusiasts and over 360 member clubs, Mass Golf is one of the largest state golf associations in the country. Members enjoy the benefits of handicapping, engaging golf content, course rating and scoring services along with the opportunity to compete in an array of events for golfers of all ages and abilities.