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Open qualifying joy for West Lancs

Merseyside links will host Open Championship Regional Qualifying
WE have championed  the virtues of West Lancashire for some time and it seems we are not the only fans of this classic but often underrated links.

And the good news for the Merseyside club is those impressed with the course carry a bit more clout than NCG; the Royal & Ancient Golf Club.

West Lancs has been selected as one of three new venues which will hold Open Championship Regional Qualifying in the future.

Along with Wildernesse and Sandy Lodge, the courses have been added to a list of 12 qualifying venues across Great Britain and Ireland and will host Regional Qualifying from 2015.

West Lancashire, founded in 1873, is among the 10 oldest clubs in England and co-hosted the Amateur Championship in 2009.

The R&A are in fact longstanding fans of the links, as it has hosted Local Final Qualifying for Opens at Hoylake and Birkdale and indeed will do so again this year for Lytham.
The remodelled par-5 16th, with bunkers threatening the tee shot and any lay up, marks the start of a classic long hole-short hole-tough-par-4 finish, with shades of Troon.
Being a part of the highest concentration of quality links courses in England has sometimes left West Lancs (above) under-exposed but the crumpled, bouncy turf is every bit the equal of that at more celebrated surrounding courses and there is not a single weak hole.

The remodelled par-5 16th, with bunkers threatening the tee shot and any lay up, marks the start of a classic long hole-short hole-tough-par-4 finish, with shades of Troon.

Located north-west of London, Sandy Lodge was founded in 1910 and designed by six-time Open champion Harry Vardon. Wildernesse, near Sevenoaks in Kent, has regularly hosted county events throughout its 122- year history and was a Regional Qualifier from 1998 to 2003.

Rhodri Price of the R&A said: “We only play our events on courses of the highest standard. These are all welcome additions to our roster.”

The other current Regional Qualifier are Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society, Little Aston, Remedy Oak, Moortown, Buckinghamshire, Hankley Common, The Island, Luffenham Heath, and Northumberland.

Laid out by Willie Park in 1898, with alterations from MacKenzie and Martin Hawtree, Bruntsfield Links’ (left) attractive parkland looks out over the Firth of Forth.

In an area dominated by world-class links, Bruntsfield – the Society is the fourth oldest golfing body in the world and celebrated its 250th Anniversary in 2011 – is a delightful example of inland golf in a tranquil setting just six miles from the centre of Scotland’s bustling capital.

Fancy playing there? West Lancs have a brilliant day ticket of £120 during the week, just £25 more than one round. On a weekend it’s £110 (£140 for the day) – still excellent value. Call 0151 924 1076 or visit www.westlancashiregolf.co.uk

Bruntsfield is £65 on a weekday and a bargain £85 for the day. It’s £70 and £90 at the weekend. Call 0131 336 1479 or visit www.bruntsfield links.co.uk

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