Image by Wojciech Migda.
CC by SA 3.0, License [CLICK]
CC by SA 3.0, License [CLICK]
With its distinctive red-roofed and green gabled clubhouse, Royal Lytham & St Annes is the most northerly of the English championship links courses. The links opened for play in 1886, fashioned by George Lowe, the club’s first professional. In the early part of the 20th century, three great architects joined forces to remodel the course—Harry Colt, Herbert Fowler and Tom Simpson.
In 1926 Lytham got the nod to host the Open Championship becoming England’s fourth venue to be granted the honour. It’s subsequently hosted ten times, enjoying a spell in the 1950’s and 60’s where it seemed to be very much in vogue. The resurgence of British golf occurred owes its genesis to Lytham in 1969, when Tony Jacklin’s final drive avoided all the bunkers and he putted out to win the Open in a sea of emotion. More recently the name that has become synonymous with Lytham is that of Seve Ballesteros who twice lifted the claret jug on the Lancashire seaside, once memorably involving having a vehicle removed as he drove into the car park and underneath it.
South African’s have also developed a fondness for Lytham with Bobby Locke, Gary Player, and Ernie Els also appearing on the roll of honour. Indeed, when you add the antipodean element of New Zealand’s Bob Charles and Australia’s Peter Thomson to the list, Lytham has a distinctly international alumni which isn’t dominated by American’s
|Yardage||Championship tees 7118 yds|
|Handicap Restrictions||No handicap restrictions apply|
The Course itself
Faraway Fairways are grateful to the R&A archive who supplied us with a database for every score, at every hole, by every golfer, at each of the last Open Championships hosted on every course in the rotation. From this we hoped to establish which one was the toughest using a complicated formula adapted from speed rating a race horse that allowed for the ‘going’ (weather conditions in golf). Where as we expected to see Carnoustie and Birkdale prominent, we got a surprise. The toughest links on the rotation transpired to be Royal Lytham. CLICK FOR FULL SURVEY RESULTS”. Three of the top-five most difficult holes by adjusted scoring came at Royal Lytham
Royal Lytham however is definitely the odd-one-out in the Open Championship family, for although it’s unmistakably a links course, it doesn’t sit beside the sea and lies half a mile inland surrounded by red brick houses. Almost in recognition of its somewhat suburban grooming, conditioning is often exceptional and not as rough and ready around the edges as many of its more exposed and wild contemporaries. The ground is relatively even, indeed on a couple of holes, where the going is slightly undulating. Writing in 1910 Bernard Darwin noted that no small amount of intervention had been undertaken by the club’s members to try and introduce some topological relief into the landscape
“The trouble, besides the rough grass and pot-bunkers, consists of sandhills, both natural and artificial. To build an artificial sandhill is not a light task, and it is characteristic of the whole-hearted enthusiasm of the golfers of St Anne’s that they have raised several of these terrifying monuments of industry.”
Royal Lytham is a relentless examination of your ability to hit straight shots, and understandably, is seen as one of the most respected and feared venues for the Open Championship. With close to 200 bunkers and some particularly long tangled grasses its perhaps a bit of a plotters course too. A good golfing brain is every bit of an asset as a booming drive, although with two of the toughest par 5’s on the Open rotation, you wouldn’t mind being able to call up the heavy gun either
The first hole is unique because this is the only par three starting hole on the Open Championship circuit and it’s a long one, measuring 206 yards from the back tees. Ian Woosnam hit a fine tee shot here in the 2001 Open and then sank the putt thinking he’d made a birdie two. Unfortunately Woosnam was carrying 15 clubs in his bag. This cost the Welshman £225,000 and possibly the Open Championship title
The first three holes lead you away from the clubhouse, followed by a short strategic par 4 that begins a string of long and short holes, which probably represents the strongest stretch. The third hole ranked as the fourth most difficult and the sixth hole was ranked as the third toughest assignment in the Faraway Fairways analysis. Perhaps the highlight however is the seventh, which according to our survey at least, is the fourth most difficult par 5 in the Open rotation. In 2009 the hole was lengthened by 35 yards, the new green set amongst the dunes is now much more undulating in nature.
The stretch of three holes leading in the turn have the most undulation in the course. An accurate approach is necessary to have a realistic chance of a par on the excellent 8th, with two imposing pot bunkers built into a high ridge having to be cleared to reach the exposed plateau green. The par-3 follows at the 9th which isn’t particularly long, but the well protected green is nestled amongst nine bunkers with the an out-of-bounds threatening anything hit long. Completing this excellent run of holes is the 10th, old fashioned in many ways, playing partially blind between two mounds to a crumpled fairway, a small tilted green lying in wait that requires you to thread the needle.
Holes 10 and 11 bring you back towards the clubhouse. The par 5, eleventh actually had the distinction of being the most difficult long-hole in the Open Championship rotation by adjusting scoring according to our data.
Holes 12-14 run up and down adjacent to each other, and then holes 15-17 run up and down in parallel facing another direction, which naturally will cause you to adjust for any prevailing wind. The fifteenth is another tough hole to note, as it too broke into our list of top-5 hardest holes amongst the Open Championship venues. Only the notorious 17th at St Andrews, ‘The Road Hole’, and the 11th at Royal Troon, ‘The Railway’, played harder than the trio put up by Royal Lytham
The 18th is a great finishing hole, a strong par 4, demanding a good drive & solid 2nd shot into an undulating green, which is overlooked by the members sitting in the warm, welcoming bar. Only the finishing stretch at Carnoustie and St Andrews provided a higher adjusted average score
Buggy hire, Trolleys, Caddies and Clubs
|Driving Range Available||Yes|
|Rental Carts Available||Available for hire by Disabled Visitors.|
|Rental Clubs Available||Yes|