British Open Countdown: The Masons Arms

The apostrophe is a relatively recent addition.

Alfie Fyles, who caddied for Tom Watson in all five of his Open victories, grew up in Birkdale and frequented a Southport pub and caddie hangout called the Masons Arms. On my first golf trip to the Lancashire coast, a little over fifteen years ago, I decided to make a pilgrimage. I found the pub on a forbidding side street and sailed through the door, anticipating an evening of colorful storytelling. Instantly, I wished I hadn’t come. The patrons looked like—well, they looked like British caddies, but they were indoors, boisterous, in a group, and drunk. The bartender was sitting on a foot-tall stool, so that his head was barely visible above the bar. Oddly, he seemed scarier in that position than he did when he stood up. I made the mistake of sitting at a small table directly below the wall-mounted television set, which most of the patrons were watching. During breaks in the action on the screen, they would permit their chilling gaze to drift downward. I drank my beer as fast as I could and fled back to my hotel, the dowdy Prince of Wales.