Final Qualifying Feature - Prince's Golf Club
Prince’s Golf Club holds a special place in the history of The Open as one of only 14 courses in Britain to have hosted the oldest major championship in golf.
Completed in 1906, the links in Sandwich held The Open for the first and only time in 1932 when American Gene Sarazen set a new scoring record of 283 to lift the Claret Jug.
While the hosting was considered a great success, the course was requisitioned by the military as a battle training ground during the Second World War. The present-day 27-hole layout was the result of a 1950 re-design and it has since become a regular qualifying venue for The Open as the neighbour of 14-time host Royal St George’s.
It will be one of four courses hosting Final Qualifying on 3 July for The 147th Open and Rob McGuirk, Director of Golf at Prince's, said the links will provide a perfect test for those targeting Carnoustie.
“We are ready for it and we’re fortunate as we have held a lot of R&A events,” he said. “I think this will be our sixth or seventh in the last few years and we’re really excited for it.
“Only 13 other courses have hosted The Open Championship in its history, so it’s great to be among that select group of courses and to be hosting Final Qualifying.
“We recently refurbished one of our nine holes completely as part of our commitment to continuous improvement at Prince’s.
“It’s a traditional links course with lots of cross winds, steep run off areas around the greens and punishing rough – it’s very much a strategic course.
“It’s a great warm up for those who are lucky enough to make it through to Carnoustie, especially when the wind is up, as it has all the features you would expect from a classic links.”
Prince’s has featured as a Final Qualifying venue for The Open each time it has been held at Royal St George’s since 1981, with the most famous being in 2003. Ian Woosnam chipped in for a birdie on the first hole of a five-way play-off to secure his spot on the starting tee of The 132nd Open - joining top qualifiers Jarrod Moseley and Steen Tinning.
McGuirk believes the links presents a tough challenge for The Open hopefuls: “These guys are so fit and strong and it’s about how the course is set up more than the length. With the run off areas and bunkers, it really makes a difference and wayward shots will be punished.”
The course last hosted Final Qualifying in 2011 when McGuirk’s own brother Francis booked his place at Royal St George’s and he is hoping for more local success this year. “It would be nice to see one of our pros from the club go through as there are five taking part in Regional Qualifying, but we’ll just have to wait and see how they do,” he added.