On Monday 24 June 2019 hopefuls will strive to put themselves on the road to Royal Portrush via 13 Regional Qualifying events held across Great Britain and Ireland.
The 148th Open will be contested by 156 players varying from Champion Golfer Francesco Molinari to amateur golfers hoping to take the next step in their golfing career.
Regional Qualifying is the first stage of qualification for professionals and amateurs with a handicap of scratch or better, and will take place at 13 top-quality venues across Scotland, England and Ireland. Successful players will progress into one of four Final Qualifying tournaments held in July, where they will compete directly for a spot at golf’s oldest major. To provide qualifying opportunities for players across Great Britain and Ireland, Regional Qualifying will take place at no less than 13 prestigious venues.
In the north of England, competitors will tackle Alwoodley, in Leeds, West Lancashire – the county’s oldest golf club, Goswick, set on the Northumberland coastline, and Fairhaven, which was first designed by five-time Champion Golfer of the Year James Braid. In the Midlands, hopefuls will play in the shadow of Kedleston Hall as they play at Kedleston Park in Derbyshire while Northamptonshire County hosts a Regional Qualifying event for the first time since 2002.
The south of England will see five tournaments take place, with another historic clubhouse awaiting competitors at Burhill, in Surrey. Wildernesse, in Kent, offers a similarly rich history, as does Sandy Lodge in Middlesex. Southern-based golfers will face Frilford Heath, designed by JH Taylor, a former Champion Golfer of the Year who also helped lay out Royal Birkdale, and Minchinhampton in the heart of the Cotswolds, last a Regional Qualifying venue in 2007.
On the east coast of Ireland, Regional Qualifying will also take place at County Louth Golf Club– the host venue for the 2009 Irish Open. And, in Scotland and just a stone’s throw from Carnoustie, is Panmure, the 16th-oldest golf club in the world.
Alwoodley belongs to a select group of courses designed by the renowned architect Dr Alister MacKenzie and is widely recognised as his first venture into course design. One of England’s true heathland gems, Alwoodley was laid out in 1907 and MacKenzie became one of its founding members.
The original character of the course, located on the moorland north of Leeds, has been retained over the years but it has been lengthened to 6,900 yards from the championship tees and presents a demanding test.
The undulating fairways are lined with heather and gorse so accuracy from the tee is crucial to good scoring. In recent years bunkers have been added on some holes to enhance the strategic challenge.
Established in 1907, Burhill Golf Club is one of the finest golf venues in Surrey. Nestled in leafy parkland on the outskirts of Walton on Thames, Burhill has two superb 18 hole golf courses. The Clubhouse, a luxurious Georgian Mansion, is steeped in history and dates back to 1726.
The championship New Course opened in 2001. Its large, fast greens are well protected by strategic bunkering, not to mention a number of water hazards including the River Mole which meanders through the course. At just under 7000 yards from the back tees, it doesn't lack for length. The par 3 18th is the spectacular signature hole, requiring a solid tee shot over the River Mole towards the clubhouse to a two-tier green where, with an audience of golfers on the terrace, even a ‘tap in’ can be daunting.
County Louth Golf Club, or Baltray as it’s often known is nestled on the east coast of Ireland between Dublin and Dundalk.
Baltray was the host of the 2009 Irish Open, which saw Shane Lowry capture his home open title as an amateur.
The course was a regional qualifying venue in 2010 and 2018.
Originally designed by five-time Champion Golfer of the Year James Braid, Fairhaven Golf Club has hosted Final Qualifying on several occasions when The Open has been held at nearby Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club. The course record is held by 1997 Champion Golfer Justin Leonard, who scored 64 a year prior when Final Qualifying was being held for The Open in 1996.
Fairhaven is an unusual blend of links and parkland which is relatively flat, allowing complete vision of each hole from tee to green. It is presented to the highest standard, offering a fair challenge to golfers of all abilities and featuring the “risk & reward” elements of negotiating the 122 deep revetted bunkers for which Fairhaven is famous. It has all the characteristics of a traditional links course, including a sand sub-soil, allowing year-round golf.
Frilford Heath Golf Club is located to the South of Oxford on 500 acres of undulating heathland. The Red Course, the earliest of Frilford Heath’s three courses, was laid out in 1908 by five-time Champion Golfer of the Year JH Taylor who was part of the 'Great Triumvirate.' Along with James Braid and Harry Vardon, Taylor dominated golf around the turn of the twentieth century, later turning to course design at courses such as Royal Birkdale and Royal Mid-Surrey.
An authentic championship challenge from the Black Tees, the Red Course offers a traditional heathland golfing experience with pushed-up greens that run fast and true and fairways that demand accurate driving if golfers are to score well. The strong stretch between holes 5 and 9 includes four hefty two-shot holes and a par three at the 9th that many consider most memorable. Completing the turn sees no respite, where a finishing stretch matched by very few courses includes seven consecutive par fours to close the round.
Set in the stunning Northumberland coastline, Goswick Golf Club will play host as a Regional Qualifying venue for the second year in succession.
The James Braid designed course sits six miles south of Berwick-upon-tweed and measures 6,803 yards from the medal tees.
Kedleston Park is a parkland course which sits in the grounds of Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire.
At over 7000 yards it is sure to provide a stern test for those trying to reach The 148th Open at Royal Portrush, as it hosts a Regional Qualifying event for the second straight year.
Minchinhampton Golf Club is located in the heart of The Cotswolds, in Stroud. The club has 3 courses: The Avening, The Cherington and The Old Course.
Holes from both The Avening and The Cherington courses will be used for The 148th Open Regional Qualifying event. The layout consists of holes 1, 2 & 18 of The Cherington Course and holes 1-3, 7-18 of The Avening Course. This composite layout reforms the original layout, which is referred to as The Avening Championship Course.
Minchinhampton Golf Club has been a Regional Qualifying venue on several occasions, the last of which was in 2018 when The Open was at Carnoustie.
A Harry S Colt designed course is a traditional Heathland sat in the town of Church Brampton, Northampton.
It was previously used as a regional qualifying venue between 1997 and 2002, and returned in 2018 where 10 hopefuls advanced to Final Qualifying for The 147th Open.
Situated between the Courses of Monifieth and Carnoustie on the east coast of Scotland, this James Braid designed course is the sixteenth oldest golf club in the world dating back to 1845. Panmure is one of the twenty six clubs that originally helped purchase The Amateur Championship trophy first played for in 1885, and co-hosted the 120th Amateur Championship along with Carnoustie in June 2015. It has hosted Final Qualifying for The Open on several occasions.
Panmure combines the best elements of links and heath, with tight fairways, challenging carries and compact, undulating greens. Old Scots pines and sandhills forged by nature give the terrain an enduring quality in keeping with the Club’s long history. Hallmarks such as the ‘Hogan’ hole (the 6th) and the Buddon Burn (the 12th) conspire to deliver a round of golf to remember.
Located North West of London on the border of Hertfordshire and Middlesex, Sandy Lodge is within easy reach of London and the surrounding countryside. Sandy Lodge became a Regional Qualifying venue for The Open for the first time in 2015. Founded in 1910 and often described as an inland links, the course was designed by six-time Champion Golfer Harry Vardon who also took part in an exhibition golf match with James Braid (five-time Open Champion) on its Opening Day.
With six par threes and five par fives on the scorecard, there is no shortage of variation at Sandy Lodge. The pick of the half-dozen one-shot holes is the long, downhill 15th called Markes’ Pride which is ringed by a quartet of bunkers and numerous trees. The course takes advantage of the area’s natural terrain while making use of heather, mounding, and strategically placed bunkers, challenging players of all ages and skill levels.
Founded in 1873,The West Lancashire Golf Club is a pioneer of golf in the North West of England, the oldest golf club surviving in the county of Lancashire and among the top ten oldest clubs in England. The renowned golf course architect Donald Steel said of the course, "Only in Britain can one sample the true flavour of seaside golf of which West Lancashire is a perfect example".
The links measure 7,054 yards, and is set in natural seaside terrain with immaculate greens. Eleven of the holes measure over 400 yards making it a true championship course.
In addition to hosting Regional Qualifying for The Open, West Lancs hosted the Junior Open in 2014 and has strong ties to The Amateur Championship. The Club's place in history is engraved on the trophy as one of the 24 clubs that contributed to the cost of The Amateur Championship trophy.
Wildernesse Golf Club has hosted a number of prestigious competitions including Regional Qualifying for The Open, the British Seniors Championship and the English Golf Union Club Foursomes and County Finals. Originally laid out in 1890, the designer of the initial layout is unknown although Open Champion James Braid, known for his creation of the King's and Queen's courses at Gleaneagles, made a number of design changes including the new Par 3 5th hole which came into play in 1929.
It is heavily wooded with tree-lined fairways and is more than capable of defending itself against longer hitters with small and undulating greens. It is a course where both straight driving and attention to well-placed bunkers is essential. Although it has few slopes and affords easy walking, it provides an entertaining battleground and examination for golfers of all abilities.
At just over 6,500 yards the course has remained very much unchanged over the past 60 years. That it still remains difficult to beat par, despite changes in the modern game, is a tribute to the original design that has for decades stood the test of time.