Trying to organise an Open Championship in the midst of a global pandemic is broadly equivalent to the logistical guddles and muddles that old Noah faced when he looked at the weather forecast and tried to shepherd those biblical beasts on to his floating zoo.

Restrictions, protocols, Government guidelines, bio-bubbles, proof of vaccinations? And that’s just the stringent measures in the queue for the media breakfast.

In his role as the R&A’s director of championships, Johnnie Cole-Hamilton has managed the staging of 21 Opens down the seasons. At the best of times, it is a considerable task akin to recreating Rome with temporary infrastructure. “Even without a global pandemic, an Open is a challenge,” said the 50-year-old from Troon. “You’re building a village from scratch on a green field site that can house up to 50,000 people a day.”

Next week’s affair at Royal St George’s won’t be operating at full capacity – they will still usher 32,000 spectators a day through the gates when play starts – but the return of golf’s most cherished major to the schedule will be something to savour.

The Covid-enforced cancellation of The Open in 2020 was the first time it had been scrapped since the outbreak of the Second World War.

“To get to a position where we couldn’t put it on was devastating for everybody,” reflected Cole-Hamilton. “First and foremost, I’m a golf fan. It’s been my working life. We looked at every possible way of staging The Open but it just couldn’t come off. We were in the middle of the pandemic, the NHS and frontline services were at full stretch and we couldn’t add that burden to them. Cancelling The Open was, absolutely, the right thing to do.”

As part of the UK Government’s Events Research Programme, which is designed to measure the level of Covid transmission when large crowds gather, The Open, like the Euros, Wimbledon and the British Grand Prix, will be under the microscope. Proceed with caution is very much the watchword.

Cole-Hamilton and his team have beavered away on strategies for all sorts of eventualities, from a closed doors Open right through to a business-as-usual showpiece. It has just about required the hefty, multi-layered operational planning of the D-Day Landings but Cole-Hamilton is confident his blueprint will make for a successful, and most importantly, safe Open.

“As a pilot event, we take that responsibility very seriously,” said the Scot. “I think the general feeling going into The Open is one of positivity. Some of our ticket holders, for instance, have had them for two years so they’re excited to finally get back. The daily attendance of 32,000 is about 70 per cent of our normal capacity.

"It’s a comfortable number. We have 650 acres to play with at St George’s so there’s plenty of room.

“We’ll have about 12,000 grandstand seats, which is a few thousand less than we’d normally have. The number of media is down to about 100 (from 600) on site too. We have to do everything in a different way but I’d hope most people attending won’t notice much of a difference to be honest.”

The strict, social restrictions in place for the players, meanwhile, has caused plenty of harrumphing, particularly for many of the PGA Tour campaigners accustomed to the more relaxed approach on the other side of the Atlantic.

“Anyone essential to the championship’s on-site operations, be it players, caddies, officials, whoever, we have to make sure we look after them,” said Cole-Hamilton of the secure bubble. “All we want to do is let the players play, crown a champion golfer next Sunday and make sure we don’t have to contact trace anyone during the event. There is generally a huge understanding of that.

“Clearly in different parts of the world there are different government guidelines in place but we’ve had great understanding from the players. What we are doing is in their best interests and the interests of the championship. The important thing is putting The Open on. It’s important for golf and for sport in general.”

Cole-Hamilton cut his teeth as a tournament director with the Scottish PGA back in the 1990s.

The Open may be a slightly bigger beast than the Clydebank & Municipal Pro-Am on the Tartan Tour but those early learning experiences have stood him in good stead. “The principle remains the same,” he said. “It’s about the players, the course and people doing the right roles. The Open is just on a much larger scale.”

At last, the 149th championship is ready to go.