Royal Lytham & St Annes - Lancashire - England

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

  • +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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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
An immaculately conditioned course and the greens were as good as any I have ever experienced. A challenging layout especially when the wind is up. Try to keep out of the traps - they will ruin the card. I found the back nine extremely tough. The welcome was warm and the sense of history makes Lytham a worthy Open venue and an unforgettable experience for the average club golfer. I really would like to come back and stay in the Dormy accommodation to gently soak up atmosphere. Should be on everyone’s must-play list. The practice facilities are excellent also.
April 06, 2005
8 / 10
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Surely Royal Lytham & St Annes has to be one of the finest courses anywhere and the historic atmosphere is quite humbling. This is not a course for the high handicapper, it’s tough with a capital T…those bunkers are truly magnetic. The back nine, as everyone knows, is brutal. I felt as though I played good solid golf (7 handicap) and I dropped 12 shots coming home and there was only a 15-20 mph wind! It was a pleasure to play this cracking links course, it would be nice to see the sea rather than suburbia, but then that’s a small aesthetic downside. And finally, what a warm and friendly Lancashire welcome…those folk really know how to make you feel at home and the food was delicious. I will return one day.
January 17, 2005
8 / 10
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