Some fascinating facts about this year’s Open venue.
1. Lytham’s first Open winner in 1926, the legendary Bobby Jones, had a nasty shock when he returned to the course after going back to his hotel at lunchtime between his third and fourth rounds. He forgot his player’s pass… and ended up paying on the gate to get back in!
2. The 1974 championship at Lytham was the first Open with the bigger, modern ball in play.
3. All the past Lytham Open champions have donned the World No.1 crown.
4. Lytham is the only Open venue where a left-hander has lifted the Claret Jug – New Zealander Bob Charles in 1963.
5. The course was built in 1897 – 11 years after the club itself was founded at the St Annes Hotel.
6. The original layout was the handiwork of George Lowe, the club’s first professional, though it wasn’t until Harry Colt’s 1919-22 improvements that Lytham was selected to host The Open.
7. Lytham isn’t the most demanding course on the Open rota but the players will have to negotiate a staggering 206 bunkers strategically dotted around the majestic Fylde links.
8. After capturing the 1979 title at Lytham, the late Seve Ballesteros declared: “They say I get into too many bunkers. But is no problem – I’m the best bunker player!”
9. The Spaniard’s victory was one of the most dramatic in Open history with one R&A official saying: “He chose not to use the course but preferred his own which mainly consisted of hay fields, car parks, grandstands, dropping zones and even ladies’ clothing!”
10. The present clubhouse was started in 1896 and completed in March 1898.
11. In 1969 Tony Jacklin became the first Brit to win The Open in 18 years and on the morning of the final round at Royal Lytham and St Annes ‘Jacko’ found a note from friend and fellow pro Bert Yancey on his locker, simply saying ‘Tempo.’
12. It was Royal Lytham member Dr Nolan’s idea to erect the type of grandstands we see at today’s Open Championships – the early stands were low and the spectators sitting in them couldn’t see what was happening on the course when people walked by.
13. Among the famous club’s membership are a whole host of well-known names with English rugby legend and pundit Bill Beaumont and comedian/TV presenter Roy Walker of quiz show Catchphrase fame among them.
14. Long-serving Head Pro Eddie Birchenough retires at the end of the year after 26 years of service. Ben Squires, one of Eddie’s assistants, takes over the reins.