Golf’s oldest Major Championship takes place at Royal St Georges in Kent this July. Regarded by many as the one to win, The Open Championship and it’s coveted Claret Jug has enjoyed a rich history with the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy all amongst past winners.
The Open Qualifying Series is a global adventure that takes in six countries across five continents over eight events with one goal: to qualify for the most prestigious golf championship in the world, The Open. Regional and Final Qualifying take place in The UK and allow both professionals and amateurs (with a handicap of 0.0 or lower) the chance to do battle and claim a place in the field at Royal St George’s.
The four qualifying venues in the UK this year for Regional Qualifying are rated amongst the very best, offering a suitable challenge as the gateway to playing in the 149th Open Championship.
Taking place on Saturday 26th June or Sunday 27th June, players will be enjoying a simple 18-hole stroke play tournament. The top players will progress to final qualifying which will take place at the same venue they qualified at on Tuesday 29th June for 36 holes of golf to see if they can claim a place in the field at Royal St George’s Golf Club. This slightly revised format is due to changes enforced by COVID-19 and will also see no spectators able to watch qualifying.
We’re going to take a look at each of the Regional Qualifying venues for The Open and our thoughts on the test that lies ahead.
Congratulations to the 12 players who qualified for the 149th Open Championship
Only one of the twelve has played in The Open before, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, the seven-time European Tour winner! The other 11 players; Sam Bairstow, Ben Hutchinson, Sam Forgan, Deyen Lawson, Connor Worsdall, Daniel Croft, Nicholas Poppleton, Louis de Jager, Daniel Hillier, Jonathan Thomson and Richard Mansell – will be making their debuts in The Open at Royal St George’s.
St Annes Old Links
St Anne’s Old Links is a links golf course with breathtaking views over the Irish Sea. The Course has been ranked as one of the top 50 in the UK, and was also voted as one of the best value golf courses in England.
With a traditional links experience awaiting competitors of Regional and Final Qualifying, the wind and double-breaking greens are sure to play a part in doing well here. Dating back to 1901, the course features a host of well-placed pot bunkers and has received notable accolades from many, including grand slam winner Bobby Jones noting “it’s difficult to see how you could improve on this”. As a regular stop for Open Qualifying, the course will be familiar to many and is sure to provide a fair examination for those fighting to get a spot to play in the 149th Open.
Notts Golf Club (Hollinwell)
Regarded as one of the best heathland golf courses in England, Notts Golf Club is a superb test of golf. Located near Nottingham in The East Midlands, the course is also known as Hollinwell due to the spring which is located next to the 8th tee, As a regular stop for Open Qualifying, many will be aware of the challenge that lies in wait for a course which measures in excess of 7,000 yards and requires superb course management to avoid the undulations, heather and bunkers which await any mis-timed shot.
With a par of 71 it’s right up there with the best. The course is not only renowned for its long set of challenging holes but also for its magnificent views as it overlooks Nottingham city centre and Castle Rock from many of the elevated tees.
West Lancashire Golf Club
Dating back to 1873, West Lancashire Golf Club is the oldest, still in use, golf club in Lancashire. The club has enjoyed a rich history of both amateur and professional golf including having Harold Hilton who was one of the greatest golfers of his era. Hilton won both The Open Championship and Amateur Championship, a feat achieved by only a select few in the history of the game.
Golfers heading to West Lancs can expect a championship experience that has not only been a regular stop for Open Qualifying but numerous regional and national events for over 100 years. A regular feature within The Top 100 Golf Courses in The UK & Ireland, West Lancs measures 6,992 yards against a par of 72 the course isn’t the longest by modern standards but due to tight driving holes, well-placed pot bunkers and a strong wind most days provides ample protection for the course. Past greats have experienced the course, most notably in 1976 where Nick Faldo, Sandy Lyle, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam all competed in Final Qualifying for The Open and in more recent times where Italian European Tour star Matteo Manassero got the amateur course record (65) in The 2009 Amateur Championship.
Prince’s Golf Club
As part of an Open Championship trio, Prince’s Golf Club is one of the UK’s most popular championship links golf courses. Whilst 1932 is the year most associated with Prince’s due to it’s hosting of The Open Championship won by Gene Sarazen, the course has evolved into a modern links experience that enjoys 27 holes of golf that rewards skillful shot-making and course management.
Located just moments from Royal St George’s Golf Club (the courses back onto one another) and a short drive from Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club, Prince’s forms part of arguably one of the best golf tours anywhere in the world, allowing you to combine 3 Open Championship hosts within just moments of one another.
Golfers heading to Prince’s for Regional Qualifying for The Open will be required to bring their very best accuracy off the tee. With fast-running fairways combined with long, punishing rough, golfers straying from the fairways will find themselves with the tricky task of finding greens in regulation. As a regular stop for both regional and national events, most competitors will have experienced the course before. It is also top-rated by Your Golf Travel customers, rated 9.0/10, so a great destination for both elite and club golfers alike.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post about the changes to the qualifying process for The Open Championship. Good luck to all who will be taking part as they compete for a place in the field at Royal St George’s Golf Club. If you have any questions about attending The Open or playing an Open Championship golf course, please contact our Golf Travel Experts.
Thank you for reading and let’s look forward to another great Open Championship!