Royal Lytham & St Annes - Lancashire - England

Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club,
Links Gate,
St Annes on Sea,
Lancs.,
FY8 3LQ,
England


  • +44 (0) 1253 724206

  • Golf Club Website

  • 1 mile SE of St Annes town centre

  • Welcome Mon & Thu - Contact in advance


Ten-time Open Championship venue, Royal Lytham & St Annes was the fourth English course after Royal St George’s, Royal Liverpool and Royal Cinque Ports to host the Open.

Date Winner Country
1926 Bobby Jones USA
1952 Bobby Locke S Africa
1958 Peter Thomson Australia
1963 Bob Charles NZL
1969 Tony Jacklin England
1974 Gary Player S Africa
1979 Seve Ballesteros Spain
1988 Seve Ballesteros Spain
1996 Tom Lehman USA
2001 David Duval USA
2012 Ernie Els S Africa




Royal Lytham & St Annes is the most northerly of the English championship links courses, situated only 10 miles, as the seagull flies, from its illustrious neighbour, Royal Birkdale. This monster 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. C.K. Cotton and Frank Pennink later modified the layout.

This is definitely a links course, but it is no longer beside the sea. It now lies half a mile inland, but with Blackpool tower looming in the distance you know the sea isn't far away. Rather unusually, the links is surrounded by red brick houses and (less unusually) flanked on the west by the railway line. The guardian Victorian clubhouse always watches sternly over the links. Conditioning is often exceptional and not as rough and ready around the edges as many of its contemporaries. The ground is relatively even, except perhaps on a couple of holes, where the going is slightly undulating.

The course itself is extremely tough, only Carnoustie (on the British Open circuit) is thought to be tougher. Bernard Darwin describes Lytham’s challenges in his book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles:

Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club played host to the 1961 and 1977 Ryder Cup matches between the USA and Great Britain & Ireland. Team Captains in 1961 were Jerry Barber (US) and Dai Rees (GB). This 14th edition of Matches was the first to be played in two sets of 18-hole foursomes and singles, which doubled the number of points available from 12 to 24. Unfortunately for the British, this was the debut of Arnold Palmer, who, along with Billy Casper, has won more Ryder Cup points than any other American. USA 14 ½ - GB 9 ½.

Team Captains in 1977 were Dow Finsterwald (US) and Brian Huggett (GB & Ireland). Despite GB & I lobbying to reduce the number of matches to 20 and Nick Faldo winning all three of his matches while suffering from glandular fever, it was not enough to prevent the US team from winning its 10th consecutive Ryder Cup. However, this would be the last time that Britain and Ireland would compete alone against the mighty US; players from continental Europe joined forces with GB & I in 1979. The Ryder Cup was played at Eldorado in 1959, East Lake in 1963, Laurel Valley in 1975 and The Greenbrier in 1979.

“The trouble, besides the r ough 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.” At this stage we should remind ourselves that Darwin penned this in 1910, and, in those days, it was highly unusual to build anything other than bunkers, talking of which, the bunkers at Royal Lytham are many and annoyingly magnetic.

The greens are firm, fast and true, or as Darwin once said when he was playing a match at St Annes against an opponent who was a very good putter. “The truly-struck putt comes on and on over that wonderfully smooth turf and flops into the hole with a sickening little thud, and there we are left gasping and robbed of our prey.”

The 1st 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—it also cost his caddy around £20,000 and his job.

The 17th hole, a 467-yard par four, belongs to the esteemed Bobby Jones. As an amateur, he won the 1926 Open Championship, beating Al Watrous by two shots. A plaque (located close to the spot from which he nailed his second shot onto the green from a rough, sandy lie during the final round) commemorates Jones’s triumph and the mashie that he used for this remarkable shot is displayed in the clubhouse. The final hole is a relatively ordinary 414-yard par four and it’s a simple case of straight hitting to avoid the 15 bunkers that are trying hard to swallow the ball. The resurgence of British golf occurred here 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.

Royal Lytham and St Annes could never be described as a “classical” links course. It doesn’t have any giant shaggy dunes, nor does it have undulating roller-coaster fairways or pretty sea views. But it does have honesty and character by the bucket and spade load, and bags and bags of history.

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Reviews for Royal Lytham & St Annes

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Description: Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club is the most northerly of the English championship links courses, situated only 10 miles from Royal Birkdale. Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Reviews: 62
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James
I agree that you cannot call RL&StA a classic links - but it certainly is a championship golf course, worthy of its place on the Open rota. The setting is unusual for a 'seaside' links, surrounded on all sides by semi-detached houses, but ignore this and you are confronted with one extremely tough course, particularly if the wind is blowing. The course's main defence is its bunkering - most of those pesky pot bunkers are extremely deep and difficult to escape from (I should know, I was in 12 of them!). The overwhelming feeling at Lytham is its history. The clubhouse is magnificent, and there can be fewer better 18th hole settings anywhere else. A word too for the wonderful friendly welcome we received - all the staff were extremely pleasant, and although the club itself is certainly grand, we did not experience any of the stuffiness that you might have expected at a club like this.
May 20, 2009
8 / 10
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Ed Hall
I followed reader comments and stayed in the Dormy House the night before playing the course. Facilities in the Dormy House are good for the money you pay - everything clean and tidy, not exactly 5 star but not shabby either - and customer service is nothing short of first class, both on & off the course.The course itself is good, but not a classic links course. The front nine is probably easier for the pros, but we were playing into the wind and found it tough but fair. The 7th, 8th and 9th were the outstanding holes on the front nine. The back nine disappointed a bit, especially 10, 11, 12 & 13, there wasn't much of a links feel and although there were bunkers everywhere, I think the pros would burn these up in competition. The 15th and 17th were tough coming in, but the 16th was again disappointing. The 18th is a tough drive and good finishing hole, but I felt there was something missing on the course somewhere, and for me it's the weakest of the Open venues, although a very strong course in its own right.
May 18, 2009
6 / 10
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Richard Smith
A truly magnificent golf course. The slope of the greens tends to run towards the bunkers making the approach shots very, very difficult, especially in the substanital wind that usually confronts you here. Royal Lytham probably has the greatest collection of short (<400 yard) par 4's of any course I've ever played. The finish of 14 through 18 is an incredibly stern test, especially if you are coming in against the wind.The short par 3 ninth typlifies the challenges of Royal Lytham. There is a cross bunker about 40 yards short of the green on a 150 yard hole, which obviously seems like an unusual placement. However we were dead down wind and the only way to hold the green was to carry the bunker by 5-10 yards, quite a testy shot!My only fear is that the course is not quite long enough by modern standards to host the Open. It probably barely measures 7000 yards, and there is very little room to stretch the existing holes due to surrounding homes. It would be a shame if this course was removed from the Open rotation, because it is a championship test in every way, shape and form. The professional and clubhouse staff were wonderful as well. I can't wait to go back.Richard Smith, Knoxville, Tennessee
December 15, 2007
10 / 10
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Jim McCann
December 16, 2007
Richard, if you ever do return to play Lytham then make sure you stay at their dormy house the night before you play. Honestly, you will love every minute of the "evening meal and breakfast in the clubhouse experience" before playing on the links. I know I did when I played there and I hope my earlier review from June 2006 at least partially conveys what was the best golfing experience I have EVER had (so far)!
Neil
The surprising thing about Royal Lytham is that is is not actually by the sea. It is a links course all right but some way in land so it does not have the coastal beauty of a Turnberry. That having been said it is pretty much all you would want from a top class links course. It also has an undoubted historical atmosphere. Don't miss the Bobby Jones plaque on the 17th. The 18th is in my view one of the finest finishing holes in golf, beautifully set against the stylish clubhouse and with all those legendry moments indelibly etched on the exquisitely manicured green.
April 02, 2007
8 / 10
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John
A fantastic links course that asks all the right questions. Strategic bunkering, tricky and slick greens and a brutal closing stretch. The only letdown is the lack of sea views otherwise it's as good gets.
November 01, 2006
8 / 10
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Lindsay Wilson
Clubhouse and facilities are all excellent but the course itself was somewhat of a let-down. Fairly flat and uninteresting with very few memorable holes. How it can be so far up the ratings I just can't understand. I've played lots of courses that were half the price and twice as good.
September 11, 2006
2 / 10
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James McCann
September 18, 2006
As I recently played here and thought it was worth EVERY penny spent, I'd love to know WHICH courses could give me twice the pleasure for half the price - please post any you know - thanks!
Niall
June 04, 2011
I agree with James. RL&SA may not be cheap but to follow in the footsteps of the greats is a privilege and worth the green fee alone. It's interetsing to note that the original poster did not come back with a reply. The two ball rating is nonsense and should be taken with a very large pinch of salt.
Cédric
Indeed a real treat in the Dormy House...The course sits in the middle of houses on not that huge terrain. Bunkering is strategic, especially from the back tees. On the "middle" tees, you can escape from most trouble if you hit it long enough. Fantastic experience!!!
June 21, 2006
10 / 10
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Jim McCann

One word to describe the Lytham experience – FANTASTIC! If you visit, do what we did and stay the night before in their 94 year old Dormy house – it is a MUST, and exceptional value for the extra cost where you get dinner and breakfast in the main clubhouse and accommodation in the very comfortable, refurbished Dormy house next door.

Royal Lytham oozes golfing history and the old clubhouse has many fine cabinet displays for you to examine. This place has seen all forms of top flight competition from Curtis and Ryder Cups to Opens and all the major amateur events – and you have the chance to feel part of that when Cathy, the lady who looks after the Dormy house, hands you your passcode to enter the imposing clubhouse where the front door stone step has been worn down by the feet of all the golfing greats in the past.

As to the course, I was taken aback to find three par 3’s on the front nine holes. Trees protect you from the worst of the wind here so make your score at that point in your round – if you must mark a card – as the back nine will be less kind in the scoring stakes (my 19 Stableford points out and 10 points in being a prime example).

The 8th hole was my favourite; played to a raised green at the corner of the course where it gets relatively tight around the turn. Bunkers are deep and plentiful round the whole estate so don’t expect to keep your sand wedge in the bag for the full 18 holes unless you are extraordinarily lucky.

What a thrill to be able to tread the same turf as Seve when he won the Open here twice.

Jim McCann

June 20, 2006
10 / 10
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papa rabbi
This is a tough golf course; long, tight and relentless. I played there last autumn and had a wonderful round in a gentle breeze. If the wind blows hard it would be unplayable for most average golfers. that said the cost of the green fee means most average golfers won't play there! I would suggest digging deep into your pocket though and going for the experience.The club house is fantastic (don't forget a jacket and tie) and all the staff were exceptionally welcoming. If you want to test you golf play L & St A.
February 25, 2006
8 / 10
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Leighton Maurice
Had a wonderful experience at Lytham, members were the most welcoming of all Open venues and it is a must to stay in the Dormy House. Course was immaculate and a pleasure to play. Play it off the back tees if you can to get a true picture of the Open course.
January 23, 2006
8 / 10
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