(CNN) -

Few places on earth do pride better than Merseyside; pride in the region, pride in its people, and pride in its sport.

So when The British Open comes to town it feels like everyone is here to celebrate.

After record crowds made the pilgrimage to this corner of the Wirral Peninsula in 2006 to watch Hoylake's first major for 39 years, it was stamped as "The People's Open."

It's a tag that has stuck.

"You don't want to be lofty here because people will knock you off your perch," Royal Liverpool's 2006 captain Andy Cross told CNN of Merseyside.

"You must be who you are and not try to be someone else.

"If there is one thing we want the people who visit us to take away with them it is that they felt they were welcome."

Liverpool's most famous exports The Beatles once sang "money can't buy me love" and that certainly isn't an issue round Hoylake --- there's plenty going round for free.

Some golf courses can feel stuffy to the point of asphyxiation, but not Hoylake.

Not only are spectators pitching up in droves, their enthusiasm is off the charts. Exchanges between marshals and spectators have the jovial air of two mates chatting down the pub.

True Tiger Woods complained about fans' use of mobile phones during his first round, but perhaps that could be attributed to thousands of people's enthusiasm to see the man who won at Hoylake eight years ago.

Even the stony-faced Royal Navy marshals tracking various groups round the course can manage a smile in between admonishing the odd spectator for trying to grab a snap of a star on their phone.

Such is the passion for sport in this region that 5,000 hardy souls turned up four days out from the start of The Open, just to watch a clutch of players practice.

When the Wirral welcomed back golf's oldest major championship for the first time since 1967 eight years ago, 230,000 attended across the four days --- an English record.

Just 142,036 were present at Muirfield in Scotland last year, an undoubtedly beautiful golf course but one that elicits a different pitch to Hoylake.

Ahead of the Royal and Ancient's October vote on whether to admit female members for the first time, Muirfield is one of only three clubs on The Open rotation to remain male only.

That heralded a wave of negative press this time last year. Hoylake, however, aren't having to withstand anything like that.

You only need look at 2014's patrons to notice the difference.

Walking around the links you are just as likely to encounter the red of Liverpool or the blue of Everton --- the city's two English Premier League soccer teams --- as heavily branded golfing apparel.

At 22 this is Mark Budd's third Open championship but his first visit to Hoylake.

"It's such a friendly and welcoming atmosphere here, people can't do enough for you," he said. "Some places can be a bit snooty but there's none of that here."

Pete Squires is one of those locals helping to make visitors feel welcome. "It's important for us not to just give a good account golf wise, but also as a region," the 45-year-old said.

"There an immense sense of pride at having The Open here and that's reflected in the attitude. No one here acts better than anyone else and that's exactly the way it should be."

Merseyside loves nothing better than one of its own, especially someone with a story to tell like John Singleton.

The resin factory worker thought his pro career had vanished due to injury but after giving it another crack he qualified for The Open at a course just a stone's throw from his home.

During his first round he often diverted towards the gallery to high five one of a small army of friends and family who have come to support him in his first major tournament.

The 30-year-old's fiancée Lucy Johnson walked all 18 holes with him despite being eight months pregnant.

"I can't tell you how much I've felt at home already," Singleton told CNN before teeing off Thursday.

"It's so close to home. I've got so many friends and family here, you walk on the tee and everyone is cheering. I've been having a good laugh with people and that takes all the nerves away.

"They are so happy I'm here playing it just takes the pressure off you. It's a great feeling to have."