The Open Qualifying Series
Burhill
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Inside one of the venues for Regional Qualifying
burhill

At Burhill Golf Club, generations collide to create something truly special. 

With a history dating back to 1907, this Walton-on-Thames institution is set to hold a Regional Qualifying event in June for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush.

Situated around a Georgian Mansion first built in 1726, the Burhill Estate has two courses – the Old and the New – the former designed by two-time Champion Golfer Willie Park in 1907.

Nearly a century later, the New course, dreamt up by architect Simon Gidman, was opened in 2001 by the owner of the Estate, Edward Guinness, the 4th Earl of Iveagh – a distant ancestor of Arthur Guinness, the founder of the Guinness brewery in Dublin.

And it is on the New course, which sports testing water hazards and greens, where professionals and amateurs with a handicap of scratch or better will roll the dice in Surrey in a bid to put themselves on the path to The Open.

“They’re two very different courses,” said Burhill’s head of golf operations Ashley Northridge. “The Old is a typical Surrey-time golf course, where the premium’s very much more in the shot-making and working the ball around with difficult greens.

“Whereas the new is a more modern golf course, so there’s a bit more of a premium on length and being able to play well with your longer irons.

“It’s a great honour to be able to host a Regional Qualifying event and the nice thing is that the members really enjoy having it here.

“You’re getting some very high-level players coming to the club. The members enjoy seeing them out there and seeing how they manoeuvre themselves around the course.

For another demonstration of how a club with such a storied history isn’t afraid to put a modern twist on things, then you need look no further than the inauguration event for the club’s incoming 2019 captains earlier this year – which was Lion King-themed.

Perfectly timed with Disney set to release a photorealistic animated remake of their 1994 classic this summer, Temi Kapo and Alex Jamison – men’s and women’s captains respectively – were welcomed with a vibrant festival of colour.

Northridge added: “The tradition is that we utilise the 18th hole on the New course, which is a par-three, and so the new captains make their way down to the tee and the members all watch them play in to the green.

“The members have little flags that they put out, and there’s a little prize for who guesses where the ball finishes.

“This year, the captains decided to do it in style, so they had the Lion King experience.

“They dressed up a golf buggy and they had the dances all come in wearing costumes – it was a magnificent spectacle, I must admit.

“We had steel drums playing and the music was echoing through the course, and I think that shows what a strong members’ club this is.

“I was down there with them helping them tee off and it was quote nerve-wracking because they could see the hole in front of them but there was a good 100 members there all cheering away.”

And for the players progressing from Regional Qualifying in June, they could be on their way to following in the footsteps of former Burhill youngster Paul Casey, whose best Open result arrived when he tied third with Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson at St Andrews in 2010.