Saying hello to Birkdale
Phil Mickelson's wife's bodyguard is called "Guns". He's not really but he's earned this nickname on account of his unfeasibly large biceps adorned with Green Beret tattoos.
You'd think he'd be a natural born killer. And he might be. But he also seems like a nice guy after a chat with him proved in Carnoustie last year. This just goes to show you can't judge a book by its cover.
Another classic of the "good book/less than conventional cover" genre is American Boo Weekley, everyone's favourite good 'ol boy. Or more accurately, his family.
You'll remember Boo from last year, his first trip outside of the States. When asked about his impressions of Scotland, he said: "Ain't got no sweet tea and ain't got no fried chicken."
So, imagine our surprise when we met his very charming aunt and uncle while walking nine holes at Royal Birkdale on Monday evening.
But more of that later. As the lucky two to get selected for Open duty, myself and colleague Mark Orlovac, along with Radio 5 Live's Iain Carter will be blogging from Royal Birkdale throughout the week, so feel free to get in touch and join in the fun of the 137th Open Championship.
The journey started early on Monday morning in London. I threw some clubs in the boot just in case (you needn't tell the boss this bit), picked up "Orlo" and pointed the Micra north (we didn't have actually a Micra. Again, don't tell the boss).
For the first carefree hour we drove along under a cobalt-blue sky with Cliff's Summer Holiday belting out of the stereo (obviously, this isn't quite true either).
The weather, particularly clement for this time of year given the recent nonsense, suggested we were going to be in for Duel in the Sun II, only at Birkdale not Turnberry and this time with Monty against Poulter, arm in arm going up the 18th.
Chewing up the miles, the sky grew steadily greyer, but it did so in direct contrast to our mood. We were going to the Open and we were stoked, clouds or not.
The only flitter in our otherwise unflappable stoicism came on the outskirts of Southport. Banners hung from lampposts with marketing blurb for the town and the Open above pictures of... Tiger Woods. Ah. Um. Er...
I can't lie, there was a brief moment of melancholy as it hit home that the greatest tournament IS going to go ahead without the greatest player and it wasn't all just a bad dream.
But rounding a bend we clapped eyes on Royal Birkdale itself and the jolt of electricity shocked us out of gloom. The first glimpse of an Open Championship venue always induces a sharp intake of breath and a few muttered "wows".
The dunes, the mounds, the rough, the stands, the sea in the distance - a vast, natural arena waiting serenely for the onslaught on its defences, knowing it holds the ultimate power to make heroes and crush dreams.
Revved right back up, we thoroughly enjoyed the next bit of marketing spiel we spotted. "Southport in bloom. Victorian splendour with a modern agenda". You just can't teach that.
And if Royal Birkdale sparked a chorus of "wows", the next site illicited a collective "awesome". Turns out there's a Moroccan-themed crazy golf course at the end of our road. "That's got our names all over it," we shouted. It will definitely be hosting the BBC Sport Online Open later this week.
But back to Boo.
Bimbling down the third, we came across none other than 1998 champion Mark O'Meara, rising US star Anthony Kim and Boo playing in a three-ball.
O'Meara and Kim were in deep discussion over which private jet to buy (not kidding this time).
The 51-year-old O'Meara seems to make a habit of mentoring the young guns - he calls close friend Woods "The Kid" - and Kim was getting a guided tour of Birkdale by one of its masters.
Meanwhile, Boo was busy shanking wedge shots out of the rough (he only did one really). Plenty of autograph hunters were around, chasing O'Meara with glossy pics to sign, no doubt destined for Ebay, so it took a few holes to identify the Weekley contingent.
Uncle Jim told us about the background to the Boo nickname - his real name is Thomas but he loved Yogi Bear cartoons as a kid - and filled us in on his golfing career. Jim's wife, meanwhile, brought us up to date with Boo's new-born son Aiden and told of their hometown of Milton in Florida which is home to PGA professionals and former school-mates Boo, Heath Slocum and Bubba Watson.
Our little group bonded when Boo clonked one of the spectators on the backside with a drive on the 8th.
Whipping out a marker pen, he swiftly signed the ball and handed it to the man to make it all better.
When Mr Lu hit a women spectator during his battle with Lee Trevino at Royal Birkdale in 1971, he forked out for an all-expenses-paid trip to his homeland of Taiwan.
First impressions of Royal Birkdale close up - good looking, tight, with each hole in its own little furrow between the dunes. And, surprisingly for a links course, separated from the sea by a road.
At the 9th green we wished our party well for the week, and headed into Southport. It didn't take long before we heard our first rumour that George Clooney was in town but the best we could do on the celebrity-spotting front was former Liverpool defender Gary Gillespie.
Seeking a final nightcap to plan for the week we ventured upon the Lakeside Inn, which claims to be the smallest pub in Britain. It is, indeed, very small as Mark proved with 11 carefully concealed paces across its entire floor.
But again, appearances can be deceptive, and though it's small it has all the right ingredients. With no Tiger Woods, plenty of the lesser-ranked players in the Open field will do well to remember that this week.