Royal Lytham & St Annes is unique in the British Open rota, as it is surrounded by suburbia and yet close enough to the sea to be bludgeoned by the brisk winds, and also for the fact that it starts with a par-3 hole. There are over 200 bunkers on the course, and at an average of over 11 per hole, they negate the advantage of power and make placement the priority.
This is the only true championship course in the world that starts on a par 3. The tee shot penetrates an avenue of trees right of the tee to a green protected by seven severe bunkers. Out-of-bounds right on the railway line is a common theme on the front nine.
Did You Know? Tied for the lead heading into the final round of the 2001 British Open at Royal Lytham, Ian Woosnam didn't notice he had two drivers in his bag on the first tee because he didn't need the big stick. The two-shot penalty for having too many clubs, discovered soon after the round began, ruined his chances.
Two new tees have added 43 yards in length, bringing the three fairway bunkers on the right more into play. The addition of a low dune system on the left between the fairway and the 18th hole makes the tee shot tougher still. The green, sitting at an angle, slopes from left to right, between three bunkers.
The tee shot must steer clear of the O.B. of the railway line up the right, a newly constructed high dune system on the left and the two bunkers on either side of the fairway. A pot bunker on either side shields a raised green from attack.
Turning back in the opposite direction, this dogleg left favors a drive up the right between four fairway bunkers, including one that has been repositioned. Any shot pulled left leaves no view of the putting surface or its six traps. The runway up to the green has been reshaped to make front-pin locations tougher.
This is the longest of the one-shotters. A cluster of four bunkers stretches up the left side of the green, with two more on the right. The deceptive front of the green gives the hole the appearance of playing longer.
This hole, which played to a par 5 at the 2001 Open, will play as a par 4. The addition of two fairway bunkers to the right of the hole and the recontouring of the flat rough to the left of the fairway beyond the dominant bunker make this hole a tougher challenge. Five bunkers hug a crowned green.
The repositioned fairway bunkering has tightened the landing area. The new green has been moved back and to the left, leaving a large dune to its right. New dunes have been created to the left of the green, and the approach has four bunkers that will really test the accuracy of those going for it in two shots.
As the course returns to the railway tracks, OB is again a factor all along the right side from the elevated, exposed tee. A new bunker has been added right of the fairway to complement the large bunker in the sand hills to the left of the fairway. The bunker left of the green is the deepest on the course.
The shortest hole is demanding and difficult. It calls for precision to avoid the nine bunkers that ring the green. Finding the proper shelf in the green takes even more accuracy.
The course does a 180-degree turn to start the long march back to the clubhouse. A blind tee shot, pushed back some 50 yards, leads to an angled fairway with two bunkers on the right and one farther up the left. A small green is smothered by five bunkers in front.
With a new back tee lengthening the hole by 59 yards, only the longest hitters have a chance to clear the two left-hand fairway bunkers to set up an opportunity to go for the green in two. Most will play right of those bunkers, trying to avoid a fairway bunker up that side. From there, the hole curls left to a green with four bunkers.
Out-of-bounds along the right can really muddy a scorecard. The green is raised and angled, making it tough to hold. Shots should be held up against the ocean's winds from the left, avoiding six bunkers.
This par 4 welcomes players to "Murder Mile," six successive par 4s that collectively measure almost 2,500 yards. Even with a new tee adding 15 yards, this is the easiest hole of the bunch, although players must avoid 14 bunkers along the way. The soft-sloping green accepts bouncing shots in front.
Parallel to 13th and in the opposite direction, the 14th hole features four fairway bunkers, including one new one, staggered up the right side near a row of dunes. A new swale short of the green catches missed shots. Shots lost to the right at the green could end up out-of-bounds.
Did You Know? During the final round of the 1952 Open Championship at Royal Lytham, Bobby Locke chipped in for par just off the green to spur on his one-shot win.
Three bunkers up the right side should deter some players from carrying the corner of this slight dogleg right. Obstacles line the approach between the dunes. A cluster of scattered cross bunkers sit well short of the green with three more traps greenside.
A blind tee shot reveals none of the trouble ahead, notably the 13 bunkers strewn about like discarded toys and the new dunes right of the fairway. A smart layup should provide a wedge approach for birdie.
Did You Know? Seve Ballesteros played his approach from an overflow car park on the right after an errant drive, yet still emerged with a birdie on his way to winning the 1979 Open Championship.
Hitting the fairway pinched by a slew of bunkers on the left and dense scrub and bushes to the right is quite a task with a major on the line. The hole bends left to a green bunkered on either side.
Did You Know? Bobby Locke hit a 2-iron he called "the finest shot of my career" to 20 feet, but three-putted, a mistake that almost cost him the 1952 Open Championship. A plaque to the left of the fairway honors Bobby Jones, who won the 1926 Open Championship with a mashie that hit the green from 175 yards out.
Seven bunkers litter the landing area, including two new ones. None are scarier than the three in the middle of the fairway. Seven more bunkers flank the longest green on the course.
Did You Know? Tony Jacklin's perfect drive in the final round of the 1969 Open set up a smooth 7-iron and ultimately, his first major championship. He became the first Brit to win the Open since Max Faulkner in 1951.
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