The Open Qualifying Series
St Annes Old Links
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Inside one of the four Final Qualifying venues
StAnnesOldLinksNew
The Lancashire links plays host to Final Qualifying for The Open, The Women’s British Open and The Senior Open, completing a unique qualification hat-trick in 2019.

The course has become something of a favourite with Final Qualifiers at The Open, and certainly rivals its sibling; another that is synonymous with golf’s oldest major: Royal Lytham & St Annes.

All things considered, therefore, a combination of factors mean that you can find yourself wandering round the back nine, but for a familiar face to stroll past.

“It’s been well-favoured here over the years, because of the quality of the course and the dedication of our green-keepers to maintain it and develop it going forward,” said club secretary Jane Donohoe.

“I remember when The Open was at Royal Lytham in 2012, we had Gary Lineker here one evening and the juniors were all up in the lounge bar, waving packets of Walkers crisps at him, so we had to stop that one!

But Lineker isn’t the only famous face who can be spotted on the Ribble Estuary, with several names more synonymous with the golfing hierarchy also known to have trodden the beautiful course.

Graeme McDowell had entered Final Qualifying for this year but will no longer need to take part having qualified at The Open Qualifying Series Canada event.

Last year McDowell had to withdraw from the Final Qualifying event after his clubs went missing: “He was flying straight in from a tournament he’d been in in France and the airline delivered him but not his clubs,” continued Jane.

“He went down to the pro shop and borrowed a few. His caddy was here and he’d got a few, so he went out to have a little practice, but made his mind up that he couldn’t do it justice without his own clubs. He was on the website as playing here, so we had a lot of interest locally.”

And while the course has become used to hosting high-profile players – Bubba Watson could be seen walking past the clubhouse in 2012 – it’s the quotidian that Jane believes makes the course what it is.

A lifetime spent at St Annes Old Links has brought with it many things, but it’s the people that have kept her in Lytham for so long.

“Every day’s a challenge; you never know what’s going to happen,” Jane added. “It’s a varied job, a people job as well: making sure that the visitors are good and the members are happy. It’s a great job, a great atmosphere; it’s a lovely atmosphere to be in.

“It’s a great area; there’s a lot of interest. I think we had the highest attendance of all four qualifying courses last year."