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Royal Lytham & St Annes: An iconic Open venue

 

Royal Lytham & St Annes retains a homely feel that is conveyed by some of the modest but pristine houses lining the links. It is sometimes hard to credit that you are only half a mile away from the sea. At no time is a view of the ocean forthcoming. The feeling persists of playing in a pocket of golfing land inside the middle of town. Not for Lytham the clifftop majesty of a Turnberry or a Kingsbarns.

But if it does eschew the spectacular, the discerning golfer is certainly rewarded for his perseverance. Plotting strategy from the tee is essential to avoid bunkers that you do well just to escape from, let alone make up any ground.

Driving the ball accurately – and the right distance – is a prerequisite not just to scoring well but also to gaining maximum enjoyment of a round here. The wild hitter will find it a draining, not to mention expensive, experience.

Walking down the fairway towards the famous old clubhouse, imaginary applause ringing in your ears, it cannot be denied that Royal Lytham & St Annes has a certain aura. It is unrelenting, demanding and at times barbarically difficult. Long may the Open be contested over its historic links.

History

Founded in 1886 and host to 11 Open Championships, two Ryder Cups and numerous other major tournaments including the Women’s and Senior Open Championships, St Annes is renowned as a course on which is it hard to scramble a good score, proved by the 167 bunkers peppering the fairways and surrounding the greens.

Ahead of the 2001 Open, informed opinion said Royal Lytham & St Annes was hosting the championship for the very last time. Following Tiger Woods’ merciless subjugation of St Andrews the year before, it was felt that the Lancashire venue, at a shade under 6,900 yards, was now too short to test the world’s finest. Four of the par fours measured under 400 yards and two of the three long holes generally play downwind. Much like the Old Course, the holes most obviously in need of lengthening were already stretched to their limit.

And after one of the wettest winters on record, the scorched fairways that characterised Tom Lehman’s Open triumph in 1996, when control of the ball was made so difficult, were nowhere to be seen.

Why it’s special

From spectating at The Open, the 1st hole is unrecognisable. Atypical in almost every sense, not only is it a par three but during tournament play there is no room for spectators around the tee. That makes it unique among Open venues in two senses. It also allows competitors a last moment of quiet contemplation before emerging from a leafy avenue towards the green.

Indeed, the stretch of holes from 14 onwards comprise arguably the toughest finish of any course on the Open rota. To reach such a crescendo, Lytham starts quietly, and some of the early holes, while fine tests of skill and shotmaking, are not immediately striking.

Perhaps Lytham’s most famous hole is the 17th, immortalised by Bobby Jones. Playing the final round of the 1926 Open, his ball lay in a sandy waste some 175 yards from the green. Needless to say, his mashie-iron found the green and he went on to win the championship.

Walking down the fairway towards the famous old clubhouse, imaginary applause ringing in your ears, it cannot be denied that Royal Lytham & St Annes has a certain aura. It is unrelenting, demanding and at times barbarically difficult. Long may the Open be contested over its historic links.

Where does it rank?

10th in GB&I, 4th in England, 2nd in North West Coast

Where is it?

Royal Lytham & St Annes is south of Blackpool and across the estuary from Southport. Driving from Manchester you will be there in around an hour.

Would you like to play Royal Lytham & St Annes with the NCG Top 100s Tour?

Our NCG Top 100s Tour offers club golfers the chance to tick off their bucket list courses around the UK and Ireland while playing for fantastic prizes courtesy of TaylorMade.

The Tour prides itself on offering the best experience at the events while offering fantastic value.

Royal Lytham & St Annes is part of the Tour’s 2023 schedule with an event on July 6, 2023 and your entry fee includes:

  • Your round of golf
  • A meal before and after your round
  • A welcome pack on arrival
  • The chance to win amazing TaylorMade prizes

And, if that isn’t enough, you can get a 10% discount if you book four or more golfers.

Get in touch with Royal Lytham & St Annes

For more information about the club and course, visit its website or call them on 01253 724206.

Have you played Royal Lytham & St Annes? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us.

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