Tommy Fleetwood: A golfer’s pool-hopper

Mike Murphy

If you’re a die-hard golfer then you have snuck on to a golf course at least once in your lifetime. It’s like pool-hopping…just with clothes and more equipment, which makes out-running an angry owner a bit more difficult. 

Tommy Fleetwood, the 14th-ranked golfer in the world, knows all too well about golf’s version of the pool hop. He used sneak on to Royal Birkdale, the course that will host this year’s Open Championship, with his father when he was a child. This is the equivalent of an average person pool-hopping Bill Gates’ house.

It was actually the elder Fleetwood’s idea to golf-hop the legendary course. In between the fourth and fifth holes there is an opening where you could sneak on to the course without anyone knowing (until now). And since the Fleetwood family lived just a few miles away from Royal Birkdale, Pete and his son were able to hop on the course while walking the family dog.

“We were very clever about it,” Tommy said. “Or my dad was, not me.”

“Tommy was three feet high or so and I’d say, ‘Come on, let’s go through there and sneak past the fence,'” Pete added. “As soon as we’d see anyone coming, off through the fence and we were gone.”

It was during their golf-hopping when his father Pete could tell that Tommy would make a living playing golf.

“When he was 6 years old and started playing proper, I knew he would be a golfer,” the elder Fleetwood told ESPN. “A couple of years after that, I knew even more, because you could see the determination. He was a very, very determined boy.”

This week will be one that Tommy and his family will never forget, especially if he finds himself in contention for the Claret Jug on Sunday. It’s very possible, Fleetwood has been riding a wave of momentum in the month of June, with four top-10 finishes which included solo fourth-place finishes at the U.S. Open and Open de France.

In fact only two other player have earned more World Ranking points than Fleetwood in 2017 – Dustin Johnson and John Rahm.

“It’s going to be an experience for me I’ll never forget,” Fleetwood said. “It’s very rare that you get a tournament this close to home. I know everybody wants to talk about that. It’s a massive privilege to be playing at a tournament so close to home, and it being the British Open. It’s going to be a great week for me, no matter what.”