Word had not got out yet that we were playing Royal Lytham & St Annes (host of the 2012 British Open) so the grandstands were empty when we arrived.
By the end of the first few holes however when people knew we were playing the grandstands were……still empty. We both felt this was good as there is nothing worse than a spectator snapping a photo during our backswing (although Gary did a bit of that).
Lytham is hosting the Open in just over 6 weeks time so when we checked in at the pro shop we picked up our scorecards, directions to the first tee and of course, our mats.
What are mats you might ask? Well to prevent fairway divots leading into the Open all golfers are required to hit fairway shots from the mats. They need not have given us the mats for the first 4 holes because we were not on the fairway. Rough, bunkers, train lines and even a grandstand were in play but the only fairway action we saw was walking from one side of the rough to the other.
This course is long and robust. With over 200 bunkers and a prevailing stiff breeze finding the fairway is not easy nor is hitting the green in regulation. The course is located 500 metres from the Irish Sea and whilst you do not have any ocean views the sea breeze is one the natural defences of the course.
What we really enjoyed was the ability to see the fairways laid out before you on the majority of holes. This was a stark contrast to a number of other courses we have played to date.
Bunkers were strategically placed at key places on the course including the middle of fairways causing both of us to think more about ideal shot placement than we have to date. Visually we were fooled into thinking there was a mass of bunkers with no actual safe landing area.
This is where our Bushnell rangefinder was invaluable. Prior to hitting each tee shot we were able to aim and point at each bunker to determine the distance to each. The results surprised us but helped us with valuable intelligence about where we could hit.
Gary was very excited about the sensational and very true greens as they were similar to a number of Melbourne Sandbelt courses particularly Kingston Heath. As a result he holed a number of good putts to compensate for the shots hit in the rough. David was excited about the revetted bunkering on all but 3 of the 202 bunkers – very similar to those at NSW Golf Club.
The train line runs adjacent to holes 1,2,3,7,8,9 and adds something to the whole Lytham experience. Upon reflection we should have just caught the train to the 10th hole! But we didn’t have the correct change and they don’t allow golf clubs or Australian currency.
As is common with the courses we have played to date the 9th hole is at the furthest point from the clubhouse. Certainly no halfway house as this could slow down the round and is considered unecessary.
Lytham is a worthy club to host its 11th Open Championship and David and I look forward to seeing who will hoist the Claret Jug (which currently sits in the clubhouse). It is a great golf course that you could play week in, week out.
A key part of a visit to a new course is how you are treated when you arrived. Eddie (long time pro) and Sylvia and their staff were very friendly and Sylvia even managed to convince David to buy a pink shirt (good salesperson right there). Watch out for a future shot with David wearing his bright new addition to his wardrobe which may clash with Gary’s electric blue Peter Millar golf shirt selected by Ben (the incumbent head professional when Eddie retires at the end of this year).
Sadly Dave’s 30 points won the day. The shot of the day was Dave’s 3rd shot on the par 5 7th hole straight into the wind uphill from 200 metres to a well protected green to give him a good chance at birdie. It was fun to watch.
Overall Birdie Tally
David (0 birdies, cumulative 5)
Gary (1 birdie, cumulative 13)
Tomorrow we are up bright and early for a nice leisurely 3 hour drive to Ganton Golf Club in Yorkshire. Pudding for dinner… Stay tuned.