They can fairly pack them in at an Open Championship. The numbers flooding through the gates these days resemble the great migrations of the Serengeti.

After last year’s 150th bonanza at St Andrews, when a record-busting 290,000 attended golf’s most cherished Major, this summer’s showpiece at Royal Liverpool will set a new benchmark for an English venue with a 260,000 sell-out.

That is 30,000 more than the attendance the last time the championship was staged over the Hoylake links in 2014. It also eclipses the previous record for an Open in England which was 235,000 at Royal Birkdale in 2017.

Back in 2006, when Hoylake hosted The Open for the first time since 1967, the clamour to get in was akin to the hysterical scenes you used to get when the Beatles were in their pomp.

“We actually ran out of paper tickets,” reflected Rhodri Price, the R&A’s director of championship operations.

Here in 2023, the good auld paper ticket has been consigned to the same fusty corner of the museum that houses the horse drawn plough and hand-cranked mangle. You now just download your entry pass and flash your fancy phone. The joys of the modern world eh?

The benefits of all this digital data is that the R&A officials know exactly who is coming through the gates. And in these times of heightened security, that can be a handy weapon in the armoury. The various high profile protests at the Grand National and snooker’s World Championship at the Crucible in recent days have been closely monitored by the R&A.

Over such a vast acreage as an Open venue, it could be nigh on impossible to keep an eye on every spectator but officials are confident that they will be ready to tackle any disruption.

Protests at an Open are not a new phenomenon, of course. There have been a few streakers careering around in the scuddy while, at Hoylake in 2006, a group of Fathers for Justice protestors hurled several purple flour bombs on to the 18th green as Tiger Woods was marching towards it.

“It is certainly challenging,” admitted Mike Woodcock, the R&A’s director of corporate communications at a media outing yesterday. “But we’ve dealt with protests before at The Open. It’s not new for us.

“We go through a lot of scenario planning and we are tapped into all the intelligence. We will obviously be conscious of what’s happened in recent days and do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t occur here in July.”

If, for whatever reason, any protest groups want to get their various points across at golf’s biggest championship, then the R&A will not set the hounds on them.

“It [a protest] is not something we are reactive to, we are very pro-active,” added Price. “We have all of the contingency planning, a monthly security group and intelligence cells that gather all this information.

“In fact, they engage with all the protest groups to try to make sure we can provide for them if they were to attend. We’ve had several in the past that we were able to accommodate so that they can get their message across in a controlled environment.”

The environment of Hoylake, meanwhile, is changing on a daily basis as the infrastructure required for this mighty golfing operation continues to get clattered and rattled up.

The course itself has undergone a few changes too since Rory McIlroy triumphed on the Wirral peninsula in 2014. A new 17th hole has been created and is certain to cause plenty of chatter during Open week. The par 3 is a mere 136 yards long but with a small target on an elevated green, and various unforgiving perils surrounding it, the potential for serious mischief is considerable.

“Some like it, some don’t,” admitted Price of a hole that has already divided opinion among the members. “But if you want to win The Open, you’ll have to get through that hole. It could be a pivotal one in the championship.”

One local this correspondent spoke to out on the links yesterday said she “hated it with a vengeance”.

Some of the hapless golf writers probably muttered a similar lament through clenched teeth as they scribbled down a variety of card-shattering figures.

It will be interesting to hear what the world’s best think of it. Roll on July.