Thursday, July 06, 2006

Royal Lytham & St. Annes

The Dormie house in front of the putting green at Royal Lytham & St. Annes

My stay at the Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club (ranked #54 in the world) was my first opportunity to experience one of the unique aspects of playing the world's top 100 golf courses - staying at a Dormy house. Dormy being short for Dormitory. About a dozen courses in the top 100 have Dormy facilities including Royal St. George's, Pine Valley, The National Golf Links of America, Augusta National and Sand Hills.

It was the first time I had slept anywhere with a communial shower since college. Being a Ritz Carlton-Four Seasons type of guy I was a little worried what the accomodations would be like but they turned out to be fine. There aren't many amenities - there is a common TV, common showers, common toilets and no frills, but it really helps you get into the spirit of golf and is a nice shock treatment to start off a golf trip.

My day had begun 24 hours before with an early morning meeting with my boss and a client lunch in New York City, a trip back to the office and a night flight over the Atlantic in coach. Upon landing, we drove directly to the course, had lunch, played and retired to the bar in the Lytham clubhouse for drinks and sandwiches. Thus, we took full advantage of the best aspect of a dormy house, besides the camraidarie; the ability to walk 100 feet from the bar and crash in your bed, which I did.

As I have mentioned repeatedly, I am not a fan of the out and back layout which Lytham is, but I thought the course was good. It actually reminded me more of The Old Course at St. Andrews than any other course. Flat, but with a lot of hidden bunkers, more than 200 to be precise. They are classic turf riveted links style bunkers, small, and mostly round and if you are in them they give you little chance but to hit out sideways or to advance the ball only a slight amount.

I can see how the course would grow on you over time. I did like starting on a par three (pictured below); at Lytham it is a testing long iron. I also thought the 18th was a good finishing hole with the clubhouse virtually up against the green. We played Lytham with a stiff wind (3+ clubs) so it was a real test of golf.

I think Lytham is rated about where it belongs in the middle of the pack. Bobby Jones won the Open Championship at Lytham in 1926. Other winners at Lytham include Tom Lehman, David Duval, Bobby Locke, Gary Player and Seve Ballesteros twice.

Bernard Darwin had this to say about the then named "St. Anne's". "St. Anne's is very smooth and trim, and just a little artificial. If the day is calm and we are hitting fairly straight, the golf seems rather easy than otherwise. If there is a strong wind blowing we shall not even be tempted to think it easy, for there is plenty of rough grass on either side, which seemed so simple, will be a cause of considerable anxiety."

The "signature" hole at Lytham is the 17th, where many championships have been decided. Adam Scott can certainly attest to this having bogeyed the hole in route to his epic loss at the open in 2012. Bobby Jones took the lead on this hole from Al Watrous en route to his championship.

Jones teeing off on the 17th hole at Lytham at the Open Championship in 1926

The hole is featured as one of the top 100 courses in the world in the book published in the book published by Golf Magazine in 2000.

The 17th at Royal Lytham & St. Annes

Like almost all courses in Britain, Royal Lytham is accessable to guests provided you arrange play in advance and follow their rules. Lytham's website.


Anonymous said...

We arrived to play Royal Lytham in March, having phoned ahead to check availability.
£ 95 each to play which was OK, but we were a little late so didn't have the chance to enjoy the lunch that was included in the price.

It was blowing very heavily, the rough had just been 'drilled' which meant it was very hard to get the ball out of the rough - which we found many times !

The greens were good and quick, on the whole the condition was great, and I don't think that I have ever seen so many bunkers - all of them stacked turf, with large catchment areas. I lost count of how many times we were happy with our shots only to start exhorting "no, don't, no. #@$£ ! " at least one shot penalty each time.

Front nine I scored 44 which was ok first time up considering I played OK and had a few 3 putts.
back nine into the wind, 58 and almost felt like giving up. god it was hard, really really hard.
I had shot 77 at Boat of Garten the day before so was shell shocked.

But it is an Open venue, and what do you expect in a howling wind !

The clubhouse was really nice, and a very friendly member took us for a tour of the members' rooms including Bobby Jones' brassie (?) and a whole host of memorabilia.

I have a lot of affection for the club, a heap of respect for the course, but unless the wind is down won't hurry back for more punishment !

dan, jersey

Anonymous said...

Nice touch to add Adam Scott reference!