But anyone who was at Royal Lytham & St Annes back then will still take a long and careful look towards the tee before stepping out. And even then, they will probably break into a sprint.
Because a place that ought to have been a safe refuge from errant Titleists became a golfing danger zone when David Dixon unleashed one of the most astonishing shots in Open history 11 years ago. The 24-year-old had a decent wind at his back, but he still managed to propel his drive more than 390 yards before it stopped 15 feet short of the green.
It was the highlight of one of the best performances by an amateur that the Open has seen. In the footsteps of Tiger Woods and Justin Rose, who had also won the Silver Medal for leading amateur over the previous few years, Dixon delivered a fearless, joyful performance, finishing 30th at the end of a championship in which he was sitting in sixth place at one point.
"I was having a great time," said Dixon. "The advice I was given was that I should just go out and enjoy myself, so that's what I did. I wasn't thinking about things too much."
While Dixon's display surprised some, he had some serious form on the course, having won the Lytham Trophy at the same venue the previous year. He was also well in the running for a place in that year's Walker Cup. However, it was a golden era for the amateur game – the GB&I Walker Cup team included Luke Donald, Nick Dougherty, Graeme McDowell and Marc Warren and routed the USA 15-9 – and Dixon missed out.
As a result, he turned pro soon after that Open. "It was the right time to do it," he said. "I had the chance to turn pro, get a few invites and kind of milk it, and I've never looked back."
It is a refreshingly bright assessment of a career in which Dixon became an almost annual visitor to the European Tour's qualifying school. Even in 2008, when he won the Saint-Omer Open, he only just managed to hold on to his card. Fortunately, the amiable Dixon has been a master of escapology as well, somehow finding a way to keep his place on Tour and make his living in the game he loves. "I've had 11 really enjoyable years playing on tour, on and off. It's been cool," he said.
What would have been cooler still would be a place in this year's field at Lytham. Sadly, Dixon failed to make it through International Final Qualifying at Sunningdale last month, so his Open week will be spent in front of the television. "To be honest, I've had a dodgy season," said Dixon. "I've struggled a bit so I haven't really earned the right to be there. It's disappointing because you want to play the Open."
So who does this Lytham expert think will win? "A patient player," Dixon replied. "From what I hear, they've made it even trickier than the last time it was there. I can remember hitting a lot of 2-irons off the tee when I was there to get it running, but after all the weather they've had there that might not be so significant.
"But I'd really like to see one of the amateurs do well [there are only two in this year's field]. It's one of the best things you can go through in golf. When I holed my putt at the 18th on the last day, that was as good as it gets. It was nice to be part of the final ceremony. It's only when you get older that you look back and really appreciate how lucky you were."
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