ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND | Had they presented Marcus Armitage with the Claret Jug, the English touring professional, a Callaway staff player, could not have been more excited. On Wednesday morning, he took delivery of his special 150th Open golf bag. For those who are not in the know, Callaway and the St. Andrews Links Trust had combined on a project which called for pupils from local schools St. Leonards and Madras College to come up with a design for the bag of ’22.
Not only that, but the top 10 entries were to be turned into sculptures for the “Big Bag Trail.” This week, all 10 will be auctioned off for children’s hospices, ideally making bags of money.
Sixty-five pupils took part in the venture, with the standout entry, a St. Andrews scene, the work of 17-year-old Iona Turner from St. Leonards. The town is famously old and grey, but Iona turned it colourful, and tastefully so.
“It will be a little bit surreal seeing my bag alongside some of the world’s best golfers,” said the delighted schoolgirl.
Armitage, for his part, thought it was surreal for him to be playing the Old Course with a design on his bag which could have been dreamed up specifically for him. “This girl Iona has done a great job,” said Armitage, who turned 35 on the Friday of Open week. “It’s got a bit of everything I love about the place.”
The golfer’s out-and-out delight did not come as a surprise to the Callaway people. “Marcus is one of those lovely characters who never takes anything for granted,” said a member of their team.
Most of the top professionals have their own trophy cabinets, but Armitage, who won the 2021 Porsche European Open, does not stop at putting his trophies on show. All his life he has collected golfing memorabilia and, half an hour or so before he was handed his new bag, he had parted with £2,500 (about $2,950) in the merchandise tent. The rest of the Open field could have been getting into Open mode on the practice ground for hours, but Armitage’s burgeoning supply of goods certainly was doing the trick for him.
The purchases included a couple of handsome black-and-yellow leather putter covers inscribed with the 150th Open logo, one for use over the week and the other to be set alongside what one day will add up to a veritable feast of collectibles.
There were shirts bearing the 150th Open logo; a logoed assortment of pitch-mark repair tools; boxes of tees and nicely packaged ball markers, some of which he will be distributing among family members and friends at Howley Hall, his home course in Leeds. There, they are thinking of setting a room aside for an Armitage collection.
For now, Armitage’s latest Callaway bag will join his Open bags from 2018 and 2021 in a proud lineup beneath the television in his father’s lounge.
Finally, it was time for this happy man – he made the field only last week via Final Qualifying – to get to work. His luck had not run out.
For a memory to set alongside the mementoes, he stepped on to the range to find himself next to Tiger Woods.