Final Qualifying Feature – St Annes Old Links
As the first course ever to host Final Qualifying for both The Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open in the same year, 2018 is certainly going to be one to remember for St Annes Old Links.
Located just two miles from Royal Lytham & St Annes in Lancashire on England’s north-west coast, St Annes Old Links first hosted Final Qualifying in 1969 and thus has plenty of history associated with The Open.
Most recently, Final Qualifying was held there in 2012, when the Claret Jug itself was on display in the clubhouse. Club Secretary Jane Donohoe remembers the day well and claimed it was an historic event that has a special place in the hearts of the members.
“One of the highlights was the honour of having the Claret Jug here on the actual day, that was great because there were fantastic photograph opportunities for the whole public as well as the players, it’s such a fantastic trophy so the memories of that are great” she said.
When asked about being host for Final Qualifying she said: “It’s very important for us, we’ve got a long history of holding major events and qualifying goes back a long way. Final Qualifying for us is the most prestigious event that we hold, it’s the prequel to The Open which, for me as a golf fan, is the event of the golfing year.”.
“In 2012 when The Open was at Royal Lytham we had a whole host of people coming here, Bubba Watson was out incognito on the course, Gary Player always comes to have a look.”
“It is a really exciting atmosphere, tremendous support from our volunteers and members, it’s such an honour to have these top-quality players at the course and to see actually how they deal with and play our course, it really brings it home.”
St Annes Old Links will be a true challenge on July 3 to any of those hoping to qualify for The 147th Open at Carnoustie later that month.
Donohoe added: “It’s a very compact course, very near to the seaside, exposed to the wind – which is a big part of the course, the wind is a major factor.”
“Our feature hole would be the ninth, a par three coming back to the clubhouse, about which the great Bobby Jones is quoted as saying ‘it's difficult to see how you could improve on this.’ It’s not perhaps the most difficult but it’s a fantastic challenge and a great view from the tee” she added.
At 6941 yards, the Par 72 links course welcomes players the chance to test themselves and has hosted a whole list of distinguished events over the past few years including The Ladies' Home Internationals in 2013 and the English Women's Open Amateur Strokeplay Championship in 2015.
Spectators are sure to witness plenty of drama as hopefuls take on the course in a bid to reach golf’s oldest and greatest major.