Dunhill Links: Golf’s Coolest Event

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Dunhill Links: Golf's Coolest Event Any A-list golfer worth his Maybach-driven salt is dusting off his passport and pointing his Gulfstream north and east, to St. Andrews, Scotland, for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, held Oct. 2-5. Samuel L. Jackson was among the stars who made the trip last year.
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The celebrity lineup at the Alfred Dunhill has included Murray, Jackson, Allen, Franz Klammer, Hugh Grant, Kyle MacLachlan, Boris Becker, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Huey Lewis. No one, however, matches the cool of Dennis Hopper, a Dunhill stalwart.
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Hopper lines up a putt at Carnoustie. Ever dream about teeing it up with the Easy Rider or any of your other favorite celebs and sport heroes? The Dunhill Links is your shot. Each year, the Dunhill Auctions off a spot in the tournament on eBay, with the proceeds going to charity.
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Marcus Allen warms up for his round on the Old Course.
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And it pays dividends on a half wedge hit into the Road Hole green.
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Actor Hugh Grant follows through on the Old Course.
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But a long afternoon kept him from playing in the Sunday Final.
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Three-time major winner and 2007 Dunhill champion Padraig Harrington chips it tight at Carnoustie, the site of his first Open Championship.
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Ernie Els stands alongside fellow South African Johann Rupert, the businessman and philanthropist whose company owns the Dunhill brand. Although the Dunhill Links is an official European PGA Tour event, it's Rupert's tournament. He built it from the ground up.
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For caddies on the Old Course, looping for celebrities like Jackson is a thrill. After guiding him around the links like he's Sam Torrance, they may be in for a very large tip.
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Amateurs indeed, but everyone takes the game seriously. At other pro-ams, Murray picks up from ugly lies. At the Dunhill, on Open ground, he plays every shot, regardless of difficulty.
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Since 2002, the Dunhill Links has cemented itself as the European PGA Tour's glam event. Its $800,000 first prize — and a killer triumvirate of host courses — attracts an Open-quality field that includes the likes of Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman, Paul Casey (with Bill Murray on the Swilcan Bridge), Nick Faldo, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood. But even these high-profile professionals take a back seat to the celebrities who make the tournament the epitome of golf cool.
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The 2008 tournament will be held over the Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. The Dunhill is an official Tour event with concurrent pro-am, but the ams often outshine the pros. Mr. Jackson is no exception.
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The Dunhill shares a special relationship with the town of St. Andrews. Admission is free on Thursday and Friday, and the fireworks display at the conclusion of the red-carpet Saturday-night player party is open to the town's residents and guests. The off-season schedule date results in plenty of elbow-room to swap stories with your favorite actor or athlete.
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For anyone who has played at St. Andrews, the backdrop of the Royal & Ancient has a way of making you feel as small as the Softspikes on your shoes. Even those with multiple Oscar nods or Super Bowl rings have been known to drop all airs. Here, former Vice President Dan Quayle strides off the 17th green.
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Bill Murray rules the Dunhill much the way he does the AT&T Pro-Am, but on the Old Course, he holds his antics in check. Well, almost.
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The amateur portion of the tournament uses a net better-ball format, where celebrities receive a portion of the strokes allowed by their official handicaps. Last year, Jackson easily held up his side of the scoring with playing partner and former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell.
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Whether celebrity or professional, everyone comes to the Dunhill to win. It's about the only way to guarantee an invitation back, especially with the mile-long list of five-star applicants (each willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a chance to compete). Former NFL star Marcus Allen consulted with Justin Rose for an extra edge in 2007.
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Allen has better luck with GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher Robert Baker, whose Logical Golf school sets up shop at the Old Course range for gratis lessons to anyone who asks. Baker's tee is busy sunup to sundown the entire week. "These are celebrities, yes, but they're amateur golfers," says Baker, "and that's our specialty."
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Jackson's headcover leaves no doubt as to the identity of his favorite golfer. This year's tournament will be broadcast on the Golf Channel. For more information, visit alfreddunhilllinks.com.