Thursday, July 6, 2006

Royal Lytham & St. Annes

My stay at the Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club (ranked #54 in the world) was my first opportunity to experience one of the unique aspects of playing the world's top 100 golf courses - staying at a Dormy house. Dormy being short for Dormitory. About a dozen courses in the top 100 have Dormy facilities including Royal St. George's, Pine Valley, The National Golf Links of America, Augusta National and Sand Hills.

It was the first time I had slept anywhere with a communial shower since college. Being a Ritz Carlton-Four Seasons type of guy I was a little worried what the accomodations would be like but they turned out to be fine. There aren't many amenities - there is a common TV, common showers, common toilets and no frills, but it really helps you get into the spirit of golf and is a nice shock treatment to start off a golf trip.

My day had begun 24 hours before with an early morning meeting with my boss and a client lunch in New York City, a trip back to the office and a night flight over the Atlantic in coach. Upon landing, we drove directly to the course, had lunch, played and retired to the bar in the Lytham clubhouse for drinks and sandwiches. Thus, we took full advantage of the best aspect of a dormy house, besides the camraidarie; the ability to walk 100 feet from the bar and crash in your bed, which I did.

As I have mentioned repeatedly, I am not a fan of the out and back layout which Lytham is, but I thought the course was good. It actually reminded me more of The Old Course at St. Andrews than any other course. Flat, but with a lot of hidden bunkers. I can see how the course would grow on you over time. I did like starting on a par three (pictured below); at Lytham it is a testing long iron. I also thought the 18th was a good finishing hole with the clubhouse virtually up against the green.

I think Lytham is rated about where it belongs in the middle of the pack. Bobby Jones won the Open Championship at Lytham in 1926. Other winners at Lytham include Tom Lehman, David Duval, Bobby Locke, Gary Player and Seve Ballesteros twice.

Like almost all courses in Britain, Royal Lytham is accessable to guests provided you arrange play in advance and follow their rules. Lytham's website.

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