And this year, we seem to have a new venue. Welcome to Lytham St Angst." You wouldn't actually expect Ivor Robson, the Open's long-serving starter, to use those precise words on the first tee tomorrow. Ivor, Moffat's most famous resident, is such a douce and Presbyterian fellow that he would have to stand there with a bag of pan drops in one hand and a copy of the People's Friend in the other to reinforce his Kirk elder's image. Levity just isn't his style.
But it wouldn't be a bad way to launch an event that has already provoked a predictable bout of bellyaching from some of the world's best players. Apparently, the poor dears are concerned the rough might be too difficult to handle. Some of them have even suggested that they might lose a ball or two in there.
Tiger Woods kicked it all off when he described the Lytham rough as "unplayable". And where Woods goes, others follow. Reigning champion Darren Clarke piled in with his criticism as well. Away from the orchestrated press conferences, players have been moaning quietly among themselves. Apparently, it's going to be hell out there.
The irony of their attitudes took some time sink in. At least a nanosecond in fact. Just as it did back in 1999, when they queued up to pour scorn on Carnoustie when the Angus course, returning to the Open rota after a gap of 24 years, showed the world why it had earned itself such a fearsome reputation in the first place. In many cases it was the very players who had previously been declaring their deep-seated love of links golf who were the most savage critics of one of its most inconvenient realities.
The fact is that golf's most traditional format is a game where the course becomes one of the variables. That element has been all but banished from the manicured tracks where most tournaments are now played, but in links it is literally true that you have to take the rough with the smooth. Some years – Hoylake in 2006 springs to mind – it might be as wispy as a baby's hair; and in others it will be more like Donald Trump's improbably lustrous thatch.
In which light, we should all hail the unapologetic attitude of Peter Dawson, the R&A secretary whose increasingly unsettling resemblance to Harry Enfield does not diminish his ability to talk a great deal of sense on these occasions. Dawson simply pointed out that the weather has not been too great in these parts lately. And for the benefit of those whose luxury lifestyles insulate them so effectively from life's little travails, he highlighted the fact that grass (and everything else) tends to grow rather vigorously in these circumstances.
Those of us who have to haul the old Atco scythe out of the shed from time to time have long since come to terms with such herbaceous inconveniences. But if you've turned over most of your garden to an artificial putting green (and left the maintenance company to look after what's left) maybe these things genuinely do come as a surprise.
There are aspects of courses that players have a right to criticise. Down the years, a number of tournaments, mostly staged at overused parkland courses, have been badly compromised by the state of their greens. Those, however, were man-made problems. But golfers who complain about the state of the rough on a links course might just as well start howling at the moon.
The point is that you play what's in front of you when you come to a course like Lytham. Tony Jacklin, who won here in 1969, made that point rather eloquently the other day, but he could scarcely disguise his contempt for those players who sound like they might be trying to get their excuses in early.
It was also pressed home by Paul Lawrie when he won at Carnoustie back in 1999. His was, unquestionably, a surprise triumph, but those who sneered at his victory might since have noticed the redoubtable Aberdonian has a habit of shrugging off adversity and just getting on with the job. Maybe it's about time a few more started to follow that example.