Royal Birkdale Golf Club was founded on July 30, 1889, when nine members formed themselves into the Birkdale Golf Club. The original 9 hole course opened for play in October 1889 and was found in the Shaw Hills behind Bedford Road near Bedford Park. In 1894, it was decided to move the links to the Birkdale Hills. By 1897, the club moved to its present location where 18 holes were laid out by George Lowe, the professional at nearby Royal Lytham & St Annes GC.
The club’s landlord had ambitions for Royal Birkdale Golf Club to host a major championship. In preparation for the honour, the club invited Fred Hawtree and JH Taylor to make the changes in 1932. The simple philosophy was to lay the course out in the valleys instead of over them.
In 1951 the club was granted Royal status. Three years later, The Open first came to Royal Birkdale, won by Peter Thompson who repeated his Birkdale triumph in 1965.
On 30 July 1889, nine gentlemen met at the home of J C Barrett and it was here that they took the unanimous decision to form themselves into a Club, to be called the Birkdale Golf Club. The founding members at the first meeting were M G Crowther, R L Worsley, D Johnson, J Coney, R G Hayward, W M Simpson, B R Simpson and W W P Shatwell. The somewhat daunting task that they set out to achieve was “to make all necessary arrangements and incur all necessary expense as to preparing the course and greens, hiring a professional and providing suitable accommodation for a Clubhouse”
Weld Blundell offered ground in Liverpool Road at the annual rent of five pounds and in return was invited to become the first President of the Club. It was formally agreed that the opening day would be Saturday 5 October. The Treasurer would provide “whiskey and aerated waters” for the opening ceremony and R G Hayward was elected to be the first captain.
On the 23rd December 1889, the members of the Club voted unanimously in favour of allowing ladies to use the links, “on and not exceeding three days each week, but not on a Saturday or Bank Holiday.” The original 9 hole course was on Shaw Hills, behind Bedford Road to the south of East Ward. In 1897 the Club moved to the Birkdale Hills where an 18-hole course was constructed.
The Birkdale Golf Club was an enlightened place. From the earliest days, women have played a prominent part in the history of Birkdale. The first lady members were elected in 1890 and the ladies’ section has remained, ever since, an integral part of the Club. One of the first tournaments held at Birkdale was the 1909 Ladies’ British Open Match-Play Championship, won by Miss Dorothy Iona Campbell.
A meeting of four members held at 17 Sweeting Road, Liverpool, on 11 September 1894, resulted in one of the most significant entries in the original Minute Book. “Three o’clock at the Estate Office was fixed for going over the new links on Monday September 17.”
This is the first time that “new links” are mentioned, but it took three years for all doubts to be removed from the minds of the Committee members that the move was worthwhile. The reasons for hesitation now seem amusing enough for repetition. It was thought that the game of golf might prove to be a passing fashion, a temporary craze “like ping-pong”. And it was even feared in some quarters that if the Mersey silted up, the American liners might someday have to leave from Ainsdale, resulting in a considerable rise in the value of the land!
The annual rent for the new links was set at one hundred pounds. However, there were teething problems. The original Clubhouse built in 1897 had to be demolished in 1903. “Someone had blundered”, the building being beyond the boundary of the land leased by the Club. A new permanent Clubhouse was opened on 30 September 1904, on a sandhill overlooking the then 18th, now 4th, green from the seaward side. This remained in service until 1935.
The first important tournament that Birkdale hosted was in 1909, The Ladies British Open Match-Play Championship. This was won by Miss Dorothy Iona Campbell and the stroke play medal was won by 16-year-old Cecil Leitch. Cecil went on to become one of Britain’s Greatest Golfers. The Club Captain at the time presented the medal and trophy and remarked that the ladies’ exhibition of golf “had made the members miserable at the thought of their own shortcomings” As for himself, he was “prepared to sell his clubs and play marbles”
In 1922 the Club sought to buy the course from Weld Blundell, but the asking price of nineteen thousand pounds was considered to be too high. Southport Corporation eventually became the new owners and fears that they would take over the course were thankfully groundless and a seven-year plan was put into operation to prepare the course for Championship standard.
This involved the building of a new Clubhouse (which was opened in the summer of 1935), and also a grand remodelling of the design of the course. The Club employed a company called Hawtree and J H Taylor Ltd, one being a prominent golf course architect and the other a player who had dominated the Open Championship during the 20 years immediately prior to the First World War. Their philosophy was to lay out holes in the valleys between the sand hills rather than over them. This enabled Birkdale to gain the reputation of being one of the fairest of the Championship courses. They designed a course which was tough but fair. It rewarded the straight but punished the wayward shot with its surrounding buckthorn and dwarf willow scrub. The fairways threaded through the valleys and this left the mighty dunes as perfect natural vantage points for spectators.
This legend adorned the wall of the first Clubhouse, and is a fitting reminder to all of the responsibilities incumbent on golfers of every generation,
“As the earth is not meant to be carted away the divots you cut in the course of your play should be neatly replaced by your caddie or you, with their roots to the earth and their blades to the blue”
In the sixties, with the growing popularity of golf as a spectator sport, drastic changes were made after the 1961 Open: updating the Clubhouse and catering for the vast hordes of people who wanted to partake in the atmosphere around the links. These vast legions needed to watch play with comparative ease and comfort without hindering play. The course was extensively updated; Hawtree and Taylor could not have envisaged the rise in popularity of the game.
It had been appreciated for several years that there were underlying problems with the greens and after the Open Championship in 1991 the club took the brave decision to dig up, re-design and relay all 18 greens. The considerable capital investment has ensured that Royal Birkdale remains one of the finest links courses in the world. Worthy of mention is the fact that in the 1998 Golf World “Top Courses in the British Isles” Royal Birkdale was rated number one.
The Clubhouse extended and modernised throughout its life stands like a majestic ship overlooking the 18th green. The view of it from the left of the 18th shows it in its full glory. The views from the bay windows in the main lounge give an impressive view over the course, and on the Sunday afternoon of the Open, it is a very exciting place to be.
The changes to the Clubhouse were even more radical than those to the course, as the building and location were entirely new. The selection of an architect was made by running a competition in which George E Tonge was successful. The new two-storey Clubhouse with elegant lounges to be built behind the new 18th green was very modern and a typical example of the architecture of the period. By 1935 the clubhouse was completed and officially opened. Tonge said, “I visualised the kind of clubhouse that I thought ought to intrude itself onto this lovely course. I imagined the lines of a liner at sea; the perfect balance of the ship at whatever angle and from whatever side it was seen.”
The first post-war championship was played at Birkdale during May 1946. In the final contested between James Bruen and Robert Sweeny they had to endure mixed weather, blustery wind in the morning and heavy rain in the afternoon. The power of Bruen allied with some decisive putting saw him win through with a margin of 4&3. The Club received widespread praise after the Championship, not least for the fact that Scotch Whisky, which was at the time in very short supply, was available for sale to visitors, as well as members in the Clubhouse.
No one was unduly surprised when the brave British ladies were beaten by a decisive margin of 6.5 to 2.5. Probably more surprising than the result was the non-selection of local hero Frances Stephens from the British team. It was reflected that her omission probably cost the team one or maybe two points.
The United States had only once tasted defeat in the twelve meetings of the Walker Cup since 1922. Despite what seemed like favourable weather conditions and a player of the calibre of Ronnie White, the home team were to come in second place once again. The singles matches were lost 4-3, with one halved, which made the final aggregate 6-3 in favour of the United States. The result may have gone against Great Britain but there were displays of skill and determination which would augur well for future meetings of the two nations.
This was Royal Birkdale’s first Open Championship; the Second World War prevented it from being staged earlier in 1940.
The Australian Peter Thompson was victorious by one shot from Bobby Locke, who narrowly missed a putt for a three at the last to force a playoff, the luckless Dai Rees, who was destined never to win the Open Championship, and Syd Scott. Thomson finished his round by tapping in for a five with the back of his putter, much to the consternation of his caddie!
Thompson won the first and last of his five titles, and his name is synonymous with Royal Birkdale.
In came Arnold Palmer, and with him, undoubtedly the renaissance of the Championship as a truly international event. Few will argue that the stature of the modern Open had its roots in the charisma and media exposure, two decades and more ego, of the trio they called the Big Three – Palmer, Player and Nicklaus.
It was an Open plagued by appalling weather. A fierce mixture of gales and storms led to the cancellation of Friday’s last two rounds and an unprecedented announcement by the R&A, that the Championship must end on Saturday whether four rounds had been completed or not.
In the end, Palmer prevailed by a single shot from, you guessed it, Dai Rees. His shot on the then 15th hole, now 16th, from a bush to make par during the final round was so impressive a plaque was erected to commemorate this memorable and, ultimately, championship-winning shot.
Royal Birkdale saw the staging of the Ryder Cup in the same year as hosting the Open Championship. The Great Britain & Ireland team were in with a chance at the end of Friday, but the Americans won the singles matches convincingly.
The 1965 Ryder Cup went ahead because a Past Captain of RBGC, Brian Park a local business man sponsored the match to enable it to be played, as no sponsor could be found. It was very successful and it was agreed to bring it back to RBGC in 1969. Brian Park was a Vice President of the PGA
Finally, it had been between Julius Boros and Arnold Palmer who should be the one to win the Cup for their Country. There was very little in it, but Palmer’s shot into 18th green is worthy of mention. The pin was positioned behind the left-hand bunker, undaunted, he hit a three-wood with the perfect amount of draw to within four feet of the hole. The disappointed thousands dispersed, but many returned four years later to witness a drama of even more epic proportions.
Peter Thompson’s final Open Championship victory came in what was the last of the three-day Championships. The 35-year-old Australian overcame the strongest international fields, including the defending Champions Tony Lema, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Roberto de Vicenzo, and fellow countrymen Kel Nagle and Bruce Devlin.
It was a triumph for the shot-maker over the power game. Thomson and there was none better at it, steered his way round the 72 holes, “playing the course” to eventually win by two shots from Brian Huggett and Christy O’Connor.
Afterwards, with the best in the World defeated and a fifth Open title in the record books, Peter described it as “my greatest win”.
The Ryder Cup Match played at Royal Birkdale in September 1969 was initially marred by considerable acrimony and unsportsmanlike behaviour by players on both sides. During one of the fourballs on the second day, both captains had to come out and calm down the warring players. Little did they know, the match would always be remembered as one of the finest sporting gestures ever to be seen.
For the quality of performance and sustained excitement over three days and thirty two games, during which the pendulum swung back and forth, first in favour of one team and then the other, it must undoubtedly rank as one of the greatest Ryder Cup matches ever. On the final day at the 17th, Tony Jacklin scored a majestic eagle three to square his match with Nicklaus, which set up a thrilling last hole.
Both players left themselves with tricky putts on the final green, and after holing his final putt for par, Nicklaus picked up Jacklin’s ball marker and told him, “I don’t think you would have missed it, but I wasn’t going to give you the chance, either.” This meant the match was halved for the first time. Playing in his first Ryder Cup at age 29, Nicklaus’ gesture of supreme sportsmanship, became known as “the concession.”
The 100th staging of the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale first saw Lee Trevino aiming to add the Claret Jug to the US Open he had won the previous month. In typical Trevino style, he was quoted to say, “It will be a miracle, but I believe in miracles.”
The 1971 Open will forever belong to Trevino and to Lu Liang-Huan from Taiwan, who became affectionally known as Mr Lu, whilst taking nothing from the tenacity of Tony Jacklin in finishing third, nor from the splendid effort of Welshman Craig DeFoy. He surprised everyone with his fourth place.
The crowds that flocked to the course, and millions who watched on television, took Mr Lu to their hearts as he acknowledged the applause for birdies and eagles with the polite raising of a hat, which they thought was part of his Taiwanese wardrobe but which he had bought that week from Bobby Halsall’s shop.
On the last hole, trailing Trevino by a shot, Mr Lu pulled his drive into the crowd, felling and concussing the on-looking Mrs Lillian Tipping from Littleborough in Lancashire. She was rushed to the hospital, where she was examined but not detained.
Trevino duly won by a shot to join immortals such as Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan, who had won the US and British Opens in the same year. He was to retain his title at Muirfield twelve months later.
In the sizzling summer of 1976, the passage of five years brought another two-man battle, settled only by a great last round of 66. In heatwave conditions, which saw fire break out on the course, Johnny Miller won by the widest Birkdale margin of six shots from Jack Nicklaus and a young Spaniard named Severiano Ballesteros, aged just 19.
Seve was the joint leader after round one, clear leader by two shots in round two, and still two ahead after the third. It was at this tournament Seve played one of the most iconic Royal Birkdale shots when he played an almost impossible bump and run between the bunkers on the 18th to within two feet of the hole.
Youth understandably faltered at the last hurdle. The swashbuckling Miller went out in 33, birdied the 12th, eagled the 13th, and finished with a flourish with two more birdies. Ballesteros could not sustain the challenge in the telling final run-in. Ballesteros could only manage a 74, but this was just the start of what would be an illustrious Open career.
The first Ladies’ Open to be held at Birkdale was won by an amateur, Marta Figueras-Dotti, who was not eligible to receive the six thousand pound prize. On an opening day, a 14-year-old girl from Yorkshire, Carole Swallow, with her father acting as a caddie, scored 71 to end the first round in second place. She continued to perform most creditably, finishing with a total of 311.
Marta Figueras-Dotti, who had previously lost the Open by a single shot, predicted that she would not make the same mistake again. This confident statement held as she saw off her nearest challengers, Rosie Jones and Jenny Lee Smith, to win by a single stroke.
On day one, the course witnessed Craig Stadler set the pace with a 64, the lowest first round on record. This championship saw four Americans in the top five places and the emergence of future European stars such as Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo, and Seve Ballesteros.
But it was Tom Watson, oozing the grace and confidence of a four-time champion and seldom out of the lead, who triumphed. He played the final, majestic hole in textbook style. Splitting the fairway with his tee shot, he threaded his two iron between the sentinel bunkers from 213 yards to leave himself two putts from 18 feet for his fifth, and to date final, Open Championship title.
In the process, he set a Royal Birkdale aggregate record of 275, nine under par, beating his compatriots Hale Irwin and Andy Bean by one stroke. It could have been very different for Irwin, who went to tap in a 2-inch putt on the 14th green in the third round and missed the ball, a lapse that cost him that vital stroke.
The Women’s British Open was still not considered a Major Championship in 1986. At first, it was difficult for the organisers to get the most prestigious courses to agree to host the event, except for Royal Birkdale, which hosted it twice during its early years.
The home supporters had much to cheer about as Laura Davies wore down her American opposition, Peggy Conley and Debbie Massey, and also held off the challenge from Marta Figueras-Dotti to win by four shots.
Royal Birkdale hosted the Amateur Championship in 1989. The event saw Stephen Dodd triumph.
In one semi-final, Craig Cassells, an England youth player whose 68 was the lowest in qualifying, beat Garth McGimpsey at the 18th. In the other semi-final, Welshman Steven Dodd beat Australian Steven McGraw on the 18th. In the final, Cassells was seven down at lunch. He recovered somewhat in the afternoon, but Dodd emerged victorious with a 5&3 victory.
Cassells, Dodd and McGimpsey were, later that year, in the first Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team to win on American soil.
1991 was a hotly contested and difficult Open championship. With the course par set at an all-time low of 70 and windy conditions, it was a true test for all players.
Seve Ballesteros fired a superb 66 in a strong westerly wind to lead after day one. The tough conditions continued on Friday; the lead was tied at the end of the day, with Gary Hallberg, Andy Oldcorn and Mike Harwood one shot ahead of Seve and Mark O’Meara.
Conditions eased on Saturday, allowing Ian Baker-Finch, the 30-year-old Australian, to shoot a course-record 64. O’Meara joined Baker-Finch on four-under with a fine 67 to go to the final rounds one stroke ahead of Eamonn Darcy and Mike Harwood.
In the final round, Jodie Mudd went one better to shoot a new course record 63. He had eight birdies in what he called “maybe the greatest round of golf I ever played.”
At the top of the leaderboard, Baker-Finch devoured the front nine in 29 shots with five birdies in the first seven holes. He came home in 37 for an eight under par total of 272 to win by two shots over his compatriot, Mike Harwood, and by three from the Americans, Fred Couples and Mark O’Meara. In winning, Baker-Finch became the second Australian to win the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
In a typical Open week of gales, torrential rain and brilliant sunshine, it took the third playoff in 10 years to establish O’Meara as a double major winner of the season. Setting the ancient Claret Jug next to the US Masters green jacket he won in April.
Tiger Woods, playing for the first time at Royal Birkdale, was the joint leader on day one with a blistering 65, he trailed by five shots at the start of the last day but produced a strong final round to finish one behind the leaders.
Going into the final round, the tournament was led by the American Brian Watts, who had failed to make the cut in three of his previous five Open appearances. He held a two-shot advantage over O’Meara, Furyk and Parnevik. He arrived at the 72nd hole needing a par four to tie O’Meara’s level par total of 280. All looked lost until he produced a miraculous bunker shot that stopped within inches of the hole.
O’Meara’s class prevailed in the playoffs, allowing him three putts for victory on the 18th when he only took two.
But one of the finest moments of the week belonged to 17-year-old Walker Cup player Justin Rose. A second round score of 66 shot him into the lead with Watts, and he did well in the gales of Saturday to complete the course in 75. Having decided to turn professional after the Open, he played his final and most fantastic shot as an amateur. Short of the 18th, he pitched the ball high over the intervening bunker, dropping it perfectly online. He was swamped in a crescendo of cheers as it rolled slowly into the hole. Another of the many iconic moments at Royal Birkdale and the Open Championship.
Rebecca Hudson, the former Daily Telegraph Junior Golfer of the Year narrowly failed to win the British Ladies Open Amateur title at Royal Birkdale on Saturday 12 June 1999. She lost the final to French International Marine Monnet, the 19-year-old Parisian who won the British Girls Open Championship at Formby in 1996. All great matches invariably have their defining moments, Hudson’s three putts at the 145-yard par 3, allowed Monnet to take the hole even though she was bunkered from the tee. It came at an unfortunate time for Hudson who fought her way back from two down to level. Monnet took the hole after splashing out and rolling in the putt.
Earlier Monnet had put paid to Kim Andrew’s hopes of becoming the first player for 27 years to secure back-to-back victories in the Championship while Hudson knocked out fellow international Fiona Brown in the semi-finals.
For the first time since 1986, the Club hosted the Women’s British Open Championship. The event attracted most of the top women golfers, including the World’s number one Karrie Webb and the defending champion, Sherri Steinhauer, who, after wins at Royal Lytham in 1998 and Woburn in 1999, was bidding to become the first three-in-a-row winner and the.
Webb shot a five-under-par 68 to take a two-shot lead after the 1st round. Annika Sorenstam, Juli Inkster, Becky Iverson, Sophie Gustafson, and Susie Redman were tied in second place.
In the second round, Gustafson shot a superb seven under 66 to surge to ten under and hold a three-shot lead over Inkster. Another sub-par round on Saturday saw her take a seven-shot and surely unassailable lead into the final round.
Everyone hoping for an exciting finish to this event was not to be disappointed. In glorious sunshine, Gustafson’s seven-shot lead was gradually whittled away until she had two putts at the last hole to secure the championship. It took her only one, and with a two-over round of 75, she finished at ten under to win by two.
The third staging of the Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale saw Brian McElhinney follow in the footsteps of fellow Irishman James Bruen in 1946 in claiming the prestigious trophy, which was first contended in 1885.
The semi-final lineup provided the opportunity for the gifted Essex prodigy, Oliver Fisher, to become, at age 16, the youngest finalist in the championship’s history and for Scotland’s Lloyd Saltman to add to the impressive list of titles he had already claimed that season. However, expectations were confounded with the dogged McElhinney, despite being significantly outhit by Fisher, producing an admirably steady round of 70 in beating the English youngster on the last green. Even more of an upset occurred in the other semi-final, with the relatively unknown John Gallagher winning one up.
The stormy conditions which greeted the golfers for the final must have seemed like a home from home to McElhinney, who had learned his game at the North West Club on Donegal’s wild and windy coast. His steadiness and low-flighted shots proved too much for Gallagher, the eventual margin being 5&4.
This was the fourth time Royal Birkdale had provided the venue for this, the most important women’s golf event on British soil, and now one of golf’s Major Championships.
Despite the World’s top players, including the great Annika Sorenstam, in opposition, the diminutive Korean Jeong Jang became the unexpected but wholly deservedly winner, triumphing by four shots.
In the bitterly cold rain-lashed conditions of the first day, Jang’s brilliant round of 68 gave her a lead that she was never to relinquish. Rounds of 66 and 69 further stretched her advantage to five shots with one round to play.
Some felt that being partnered with Sorenstam might impose too much pressure for the relatively inexperienced 24-year-old, Jang, to withstand. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The Korean showed no flicker of anxiety, regularly driving over 250 yards despite her modest stature. Moreover, playing with an engaging smile, Jang seemed to positively enjoy and thrive on the occasion.
Her closing 69 and 16 under par total of 272 over a course measuring 6,480 yards was truly remarkable, leaving long-hitting Sophie Gustafson, who had won this event at Royal Birkdale in 2000, trailing in her wake in second place. Fellow Korean, Young Kim, and the phenomenal 15-year-old amateur, Michelle Wie, finished two strokes further back.
The 137th Open at Royal Birkdale will be remembered for its wild weather, its pure drama and for a champion who almost didn’t play. Padraig Harrington, defending the trophy, admitted on the eve of the first round that had it not been The Open, he would not have played.
For the first two days, the wind was never less than 20mph and, at times, gusting up to 50mph. This meant a constant roller-coaster with many good scores every day being wrecked by double-bogeys or worse.
The tournament will also be remembered for the showing of the amateurs. as a 17-year-old, Chris Wood earned a share of fifth place, while Tom Sherreard finished his first Open eagle-birdie to finish way ahead of many leading professionals.
The Saturday morning papers were full of Shark talk, as a certain experienced Australian named Greg Norman had put himself into contention, and Norman did not let anyone down.
With more heavy wind, particularly in the morning, conditions remained far from ideal. None of the remaining eighty-three players broke par, and 72s were enough to plant Norman and defending champion Harrington at the top of the leaderboard.
And so to the climax, one by one, the challengers fell away. Norman maybe went too boldly at his task, with several bogeys compounding his drift back down. Harrington, however, kept his cool throughout and struck a magnificent five wood to three feet on the penultimate hole to secure an eagle and eventually a four-shot-winning margin to retain the title he won the previous year at Carnoustie.
The last week in July saw the arrival at Royal Birkdale of the World’s best women golfers to compete in the 35th Women’s British Open, the fifth time Royal Birkdale had hosted the event. In testing, blustery, and, at times, rainy conditions, the truly cosmopolitan field produced a high-quality display of golf for the sizeable galleries to enjoy, with Taiwan’s Yani Tseng emerging triumphant with an excellent winning score of 11 under par. The 21-year-old greatly impressed everyone who watched her through her demeanour and perfectly orthodox, compact, powerful swing, which produced a ceaseless flow of glorious shots.
She had led the Championship from start to finish and, despite some late anxiety, had produced golf of the highest quality under pressure which deservedly earned her the title, winning by one shot from Katherine Hull of Australia.
Endearingly, the new Champion seemed to be surprised at the warmth of the reception she received inside and outside the clubhouse. Indeed, an occasion to remember.
The Senior Open Championship was held at the Club for the first time. Two of the Open Championship winners at Royal Birkdale in, Mark O’Meara and Tom Watson, arrived at one of their favourite links courses with high hopes of success.
After three rounds, Sandy Lyle led the home charge. Bernhard Langer, David Frost, Corey Pavin and Peter Senior led the overseas players, along with the little-known American Mark Wiebe, who started the final round four shots behind Langer. After a superb 66, Wiebe joined Langer at the top of the leaderboard, and a playoff was required.
The first four playoff holes had been halved in par-par-bogey-par. The first two holes of the sudden-death contest were played on Sunday evening before darkness forced the playoff to continue on Monday morning. Eventually, Mark Wiebe was victorious at the fifth trip down the par 4 18th, two putting as Langer failed to get up and down from the greenside bunker.
The 39th Women’s British Open was the sixth Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale. It also coincided with the 125th year that Royal Birkdale had been in existence.
Mo Martin won her first major, one shot ahead of runners-up Shanshan Feng and Suzanne Pettersen. Martin led by three shots after 36 holes after consecutive rounds of 69, followed by Beatriz Recari of Spain and So Rean Ryu of South Korea.
Martin fell three shots back in the third round with a 77 on Saturday, tied with six others for seventh place. She started an hour ahead of the final pair on a clear and breezy Sunday and shot even par, capped by an eagle at the last hole. Her second shot from the fairway on the par 5 nearly holed out for an albatross; it rolled onto the green and struck the flagstick, stopping six feet away. She sank the putt and waited for the others to finish, preparing for a potential playoff. The playoff never materialised as her nearest competition ended one shot adrift, giving Martin the title.
After completing the strokeplay stages of the championship at Royal Birkdale and the nearby Southport & Ainsdale, the knockout stages were held exclusively at Royal Birkdale. The weather was kind to the competitors, with a fresh breeze creating a demanding but manageable challenge on the links.
In the semi-finals, Marcus Svensson overcame the challenge from Marco Penge of England to win one up, and Keegan De Lange beat the young Spaniard Borja Martin Torre 3&2.
In the 36-hole final, Marcus Svensson from Sweden played Keegan de Lange, playing his first golf outside his native South Africa. In the first round, Marcus shot a 66 to be four up at lunch. Keegan came back at him in the afternoon but could never close the gap to less than two holes, and Marcus ran out a 4&3 winner.
The 2017 Open Championship was one of the most dramatic in recent history. The record books will show a three-shot victory for Jordan Spieth over fellow American Matt Kuchar. However, the drama that led to that margin of victory will long live in history.
Spieth and Kuchar were locked together from day one, neither player straying too far from the top of the leaderboard over the four days. Another contender, Brandon Grace, shot the lowest score ever in a major tournament on day three, with a 62 taking him from four over to four under par.
However, the final day was about Spieth. He led by two shots at the start of the day but was locked at eight under with Kuchar as they approached the 13th hole. A wild tee shot onto a huge dune to the right of the hole, and an unplayable lie may have seen many players crumble. Spieth kept his head, took a drop onto the practice ground and managed a remarkable recovery to restrict the damage to a bogey. Now one behind, he went on a run of birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie to claw victory from the jaws of defeat.
The Club was looking forward to staging another Amateur Championship; however, with Covid-19 plunging the Country and most of the World into lockdown, the event looked like it would be cancelled. However, a new August date was found with the R&A keen to host one of its blue-ribboned tournaments following the cancellation of the Open Championship that year. Regrettably, the tournament had to be played under strict social distance conditions meaning no spectators could attend. Travel restrictions meant that most of the competitors were from mainland Europe.
The first day of the strokeplay was abandoned as storm Arwen ripped into the course, meaning the qualification was one round only.
The semi-finals saw the Englishmen Joe Long and Jake Bolton pitted against each other, with Long emerging victorious 2&1 and Joe Harvey producing somewhat of a shock as he defeated Irishman Mark Power 3&2.
The final was very much made in Bristol as both Joe’s Long and Harvey hailed from that City and were well known to one another. They lunched together between rounds and even shared the same local accommodation. In the final, Joe Long was too strong and won 4&3 in glorious summer conditions.
The clubhouse interior was refurbished to a very high standard in 2020 keeping the art deco style at the forefront of the design. The carpet in the lounges are very much a talking point, the inspiration for the design being the layout of the golf course itself. Click here to view a video of the refurbishment