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St Annes Old Links Golf Club - April 2012 Club of the Month

St Annes Old Links Clubhouse

This is truly a venerable old club. If you want to visit a club with history, tradition and standing in the game - worldwide - but that seems quaintly unaware of its status - then this is the golf club for you. Built in 1911, the clubhouse is monumental, and the links that it majestically stands guard over is a test that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club regularly turns to as a stage for Local Final Qualifying for The Open - An honour bestowed on the club once again in 2012 as the oldest major championship returns to its next door neighbour Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club. The members at St Annes Old Links seem genuinely pleased to welcome visiting golfers and the staff are extremely accommodating. It's a golf club steeped in everything that is good about the game, preserving those things in a very unstuffy way that means it is just simply a good place to be. It's clubhouse is grandiose without being pompous, its course is a test for all and its facilities are first class.

Jane and Dave, the Secretary and Assistant Secretary, helped make our time at St Annes Old Links a great golfing experience - and the members we chatted to on the day made us feel very welcome and not a little jealous! Please read on to see our review of the course and its facilities and to find out a little bit more about this very special club and its course.

Course Review

We played St Annes Old Links on 11th March on a calm but overcast day. The ground was firm for the time of year, as you wouldNewly Revetted Bunkers - St Annes Old Links expect for a true links course, and was running reasonably well - although there was still some some of winter's softness still left in the ground. The course is, like many links, broadly flat  - but the wind would kill you here.

At 6689 yards off the white tees (6941 off the championship blue tees, see the St Annes Old Links scorecard), staying on the fairways at St Annes Old Links is a must really. The course is very fair and straight hitters will do well here. The fairways are broadly flat and fairway bunkering tends to penalise errant shots just either side of the cut and prepared. But, being on the fairways means you will benefit from the fact that most of the par four and five greens are not fronted by greenside traps that involve a full carry to the green. However, there are enough bunkers around the greens to make you pay attention to your approach once you have hit the fairway. Playing within yourself on the approach shots - especially when the ground has firmed up so you can pitch them short and bounce them in - will reap rewards here.St Annes Old Links

St Annes Old Links' general flatness belies the fact that whilst the fairways might be true and fair, once you venture off them you will probably find enough trouble to put another shot or two on your score for the hole. Firstly, you will probably have to fly the green-side bunkers that will now be between you and the flag on many greens. Secondly, once off the fairways the topography is not so forgiving. There are enough humps and hollows to either give you an uneven stance, a difficult lie or leave you faced with having to take a shorter club to clear dunes, whins or the occasional bush. Approach shots missing the green to either side will almost certainly find sand on the majority of holes.

The pot bunkers are reasonably challenging as you might expect (if not on the scale of Royal Lytham and St Annes) and when we played many were undergoing new revetting in readiness for the Local Final Qualifying for the Open (Final Qualifying at St Annes Old Links takes place on 3rd July 2012). By April/May when the growing season is well underway and this work has bedded in we are sure that the quality of challenge around the greens and their overall presentation will be utterly top class.

The course has a few small ponds but these will not trouble low-mid handicappers. Although the pond on the 506 yard Par 5 6th may make a few knees knock on the tee shot if the tee is back a little on the day you play.

St Annes Old Links' par three holes are superb. The 171 yard 3rd is nestled amongst a host of bunkers with a two tiered green and the 13th at 200 yards is a real picture as it drops away from you before sweeping up to another two tiered green. The green on the 16th, at 171 yards, has out of bounds at the back and looks minute from the tee. Each of these holes do their best to to take an extra one from you.

9th Green - St Annes Old LinksIt seems though, that the 9th wants to be kinder. It is a partially blind 169 yard hole, where a long thin green stretches away from you and invites you to play into it as it sleeps between two large dunes 15-20 feet high, under the watchful eye of the clubhouse. From the the tee it appears the dunes are willing to help an errant tee shot onto the green.  That is, until you get up closer to find that more hidden bunkers lie in wait making the actual target much narrower than your view from the tee led you to believe. Not so kind after all - but a fantastic and very memorable signature hole.

The greens look straightforward, but there was enough movement on them when we played for us 9th Green - St Annes Old Linksto be able to see that - come the Summer months when they are baked and have the sheen on them that the coastal winds and warm weather bring - there will be subtle breaks that will be extremely hard to see. You don't need to bury elephants in a green to make it difficult and these greens are a testament to that.

A large putting green and an excellent chipping and bunker practice area are at your disposal and something we have never seen before - a nineteenth hole! No - not the bar in the clubhouse, an actual extra par three hole you can play after the 18th!

In summary, St Annes Old Links is as true a links as you will ever find. No gimmicks - it doesn't need them. It will reward you with a good score for straight driving and accurate approaches. Don't be fooled from the tee that you will get away with missing the fairway here. The apparent innocuousness of some of the holes will have misled many before you. Miss the fairway and, more frequently than not, you will find something that will impede your progress in hitting the green in regulation - either where you ball lies or around the green itself.

Its a great test for all levels off the yellows but at championship length only the best of drivers will be moving the ball far enough along the short grass to benefit from the fair, sporting test the course offers.
Pricing
AM - Monday to Thursday 50, Friday & Sunday 60
PM - Monday to Friday 45
All Day - Monday to Thursday 65
4 Ball Special Monday to Thursday 218
Packages range from 53 to 82.75 (Minimum number in group 12+)

Special rates apply for July 2012. For more information please contact St Annes Old Links on 01253 723597  or see www.stannesoldlinks.com

The Clubhouse

The clubhouse at St Annes Old Links is just what you would expect for a club of this stature. For a start - its big. Its stands proudly over its links and is visible from any hole on the course - never letting you forget where you are.

Inside it is resplendent with the trophies and artefacts that evidence the history of the club. There are numerous wall plaques showing the names of golfers that have managed to secure their place in the record books here.

The clubhouse has many noble, wood panelled rooms, bearing the names of its founding fathers and includes a great bar area with large windows overlooking the course to the sea, a spacious lounge/dining room that serves a range of snacks and meals and a Snooker Room with two tables.

The Pro Shop

Quite simply, this is the best stocked pro shop we have come across for some time. If you are visiting St Annes Old Links, make sure you leave some time to have a good browse. There is a tremendous selection of equipment and clothing and you will be afforded a warm welcome by pro Daniel Webster.

Daniel's shop stocks just about every brand you can imagine and prices are really competitive. Daniel will be pleased to offer advice on and supply new clubs and a custom fitting is recommended to take proper account of your individual physical and swing characteristics.

Daniel also has a state of the art indoor teaching facility attached to the shop. Daniel's rates are 40 per hour for lessons from Daniel or 20 per hour for sessions with his assistants Jonathan and David. Daniel's coaching packages can be found here.

 Contact Details

St Annes Old Links, Highbury Road East, Lytham St Annes, Lancashire FY8 2LD

Tel: 01253 723597

 

 
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