Golfers are back on the fairways, the weather has been amazing, spring is in full bloom and the 2021 season is ahead of us.
I would imagine you are all now eager to play some competitive golf and finally get to test your finely tuned lockdown improvements on some of the best Top 100 courses in the UK. We can help you there!
Since my last blog, we have added some fabulous Open Venues to our Top 100s Tour schedule.
The Ailsa Course at Trump Turnberry, Royal Birkdale and Royal Lytham & St. Annes have to be on any avid golfers’ bucket list.
While Turnberry and Birkdale are iconic Open venues and a round there is an absolute honour, there is one course on that Open venue list that holds a very special place in my heart, Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
Playing in a major championship
I am fortunate to have played in two Women’s British Opens on the famous links in 2003 & 2009.
At the 2003 Weetabix Women’s British Open I had a great opening round of 69 (–3) which left me in T4 and the joint leading British player with Karen Stupples.
I was out quite late the first day and remember volunteers emptying rubbish bins behind us, so although I had played well, I hadn’t experienced any hype around it.
I played early the next day, didn’t play as well and shot 73 (+1) but well enough to make the cut comfortably and take my place high up the field for the weekend.
I will never forget the huge crowds that lined the 1st hole for my lunchtime tee time on that Saturday.
It took my caddie and I two minutes to locate the red flag on the first green from a wall of multicoloured spectators’ tops behind the green.
This was more people I had ever experienced watching me play golf and just how I managed to get my ball 193 yards onto the 1st green that day I will never know. I held on that day but the nerves got to me and I faded to finish with a 74 (+2).
On the last day, Sunday, I remember battling hard all day, lots of local friends and members had travelled over to watch me play and I remember the huge pressure of not wanting to let them down.
I finished with a 75 (+3) and with it my best finish in a major, finishing in solo 36th place.
About Royal Lytham & St Annes
After an opening long par-3, the second and third holes are both OOB to the right alongside the train track, the seventh and eigth follow suit and bring you to an inviting par-3 at the far end of the golf course.
The back nine starts with a blind tee shot, a tricky little par-4, followed by a long par-5 and another testing par-3.
The last four at Lytham for me are the stand out holes, a long par-5 with well-placed bunkers, a blind tee shot par-4, a layup par-4 which requires control off the tee and a long second shot to find the green and the 18th, a treacherous hole for a grandstand finish.
My only memory from 2009, where I missed the cut was my second shot into the 18th green on Friday.
In my opinion, the 18th tee shot is one of the scariest out there. It’s a long par-4 and if you are average length off the tee like me, you have to weave your way between staggered bunkers left and right or layup.
Nothing to lose, I took a deep breath and threaded my ball down the middle, that done as I got further down the fairway I saw two packed grandstands either side of the 18th green, thousands of eyes all waiting to watch me finish.
It’s amazing how that pressure makes you zero in on every detail of your target and pre-shot routine, after that you can do nothing else but trust in your own abilities.
Thankfully, I hit one of the best 6 irons I have ever hit and received one of the loudest cheers that I ever experienced. On the green, I managed to hole the putt for birdie and although it didn’t help me make the cut, it was one birdie I will never forget.
I hope you can join us on the NCG Top 100s Tour at one of our fabulous Open venues this summer and make your own memorable experiences and I look forward to seeing you all at an event this summer.
Georgina Simpson, Event Manager
Click here to view our events at Open venues.