When you fancy a trip to the seaside, an afternoon at Royal Lytham & St Annes probably wouldn’t be your first thought.
If you ever get the chance to tee it up at the legendary Open venue, though, you’d be wise to pack a bucket and spade in your golf bag.
As seaside links go, Royal Lytham isn’t actually that close to the beach. There’s a housing estate between the course and the promenade and you’ll be really struggling if you’re trying to get your ball back in play from the sea front.
But if you can’t do without feeling the sand beneath your feet, don’t despair. They love it at Lytham – the Lancashire track may well be Britain’s most bunkered.
There is a grand total of 206 of the blighters at Royal Lytham – peppering the fairways and protecting the greens.
The par 4 17th has 20 on its own. There are 17 on the last.
Ranging from dastardly little pots to the kind of traps where a player can disappear forever if they are not careful, there are two rules for getting round Lytham in a good score: Avoid the bunkers or take your punishment.
Tony Jacklin, who won the Open at Royal Lytham in 1969, once said: “The bunkers essentially have a red line around them. I mean they’re a one shot penalty.”
Even so, Lytham’s double ton is still small beer compared to some others out there.
Designer Pete Dye’s best estimate at Whistling Straits is that there’s around 1,000 bunkers.
There are so many at the Wisconsin course, you have walk through some of them just to get around.
At least at Royal Lytham, you’ve got a good idea when you’re in one. As Dustin Johnson found out to his cost at the 2008 PGA Championship, a sandy waste area is not always what you think it is.
Unaware he was playing from an area that was deemed to be a bunker, a two shot penalty after he hit his approach to the 18th in the final round ended any hopes he had of picking up his maiden Major title.
So maybe we should count our blessings…
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