Arrive at Royal Lytham from the antiquated train station which sits at the back of the 9th green and it is not immediately obvious that you are entering one of the best courses in the country.
However, it quickly becomes apparent why Lytham is one of England’s most cherished links. Your first sight will be the seven bunkers which surround the putting surface at the par 3, and this is symptomatic of a course that has 200 sand traps to negotiate. An 11-time Open host venue, Lytham is the only one of the collection to start with a par 3.
Driving the ball accurately is a prerequisite to scoring well and also to gaining maximum enjoyment of a round here. The wild hitter will find it a draining experience because finding sand is a proper penalty. Sometimes, you are genuinely relieved just to be able to escape sideways! So, yes, Lytham is a difficult challenge, but it also offers the chance to follow in the footsteps of some of the venue’s great champions, including Bobby Jones, Seve Ballesteros and, most recently, Ernie Els.
There are also a number of other great courses close by, so you can maximise playing time on a trip to the area. One must-visit is Fairhaven, a links/parkland hybrid located just minutes from Royal Lytham.
This picturesque course is built on the same sandy soil that characterises the best links courses, but is flatter and more forgiving than some of the region’s other championship tracks. The James Braid creation is also used as a qualifying venue when top tournaments like the Open and Women’s British Open visit Royal Lytham.
Again, as at Royal Lytham, one glance down the 1st is all you need to know you are at a proper links.