The Open Qualifying Series
Kedleston Park
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Inside one of the 13 Regional Qualifying venues

Thomas Curtis shone on the Derbyshire greens last year - the Englishman came through Regional Qualifying on one-over par before clinching a spot in The Open from Final Qualifying at The Renaissance Club.

Despite a missed cut at Carnoustie, his progress is typical of the success and esteem present around the club.

The 19th century masterpiece has been redesigned twice since its inception from the ruins of Markeaton Golf Club - once after World War II, and another just three years ago.

It’s typical of the course - and indeed, the club - that steps are consistently taken to maintain its pristine nature.

Even back in 1947, the course length reached 6500 yards - 7300 in modern terms - which set it up for Championship standard, according to general manager Robert Simpson. He added: “We’ve always been a club which has our course right up to scratch.

Improvements set the stage for last year’s Regional Qualifying - which went down a resounding success.

“The players all loved playing here. It wasn’t just the weather, but the very nature of the course itself.” Robert Simpson, CLub Manager

“There’s also lots of oak trees around the course which date back to the 1500s - they’re just one of the quirks that make it special.”

And as Kedleston Park prepares to host the precursor to Final Qualifying for the second successive year, it’s worth remembering that the course has previously played host to a number of prestigious events - and players - in the past.

The Derbyshire greens can boast the hosting of Lee Westwood at the uniquely named Kedleston Goose - a 36-hole scratch competition - as well as the likes of Sir Nick Faldo.

It has also been the prime choice for amateurs looking to make the step to the next level - Simpson notes that English golfer Bradley Moore developed his craft at Kedleston, much to the club’s credit. 2018 also brought the McGregor Trophy competition to the course - a significant event on the amateur golfing calendar.

With the likes of Justin Rose and Edoardo Molinari gracing the former winner’s alumni, it’s simply another feather in the cap for Simpson and his team. Simpson identifies three particular holes to watch out for - the first being a difficult par-three on the seventh.

With water lurking perilously near the green, it should prove a test for who can hold their mettle on the big stage.

Meanwhile, a dogleg right on the 10th is a testing one - but also one of head professional Ian Walley’s favourites. “The approach shot carries the most danger with a large pond just a yard or two from the left fringe,” he said. “The hole is tree-lined and the undulating green is framed by rhododendron bushes, providing a beautiful backdrop during the early part of the season.”

The hopefuls for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush can look forward to a serene Regional Qualifying on the graceful greens in Derbyshire.