Royal Lytham has hosted The Open on no fewer than 11 occasions. The technically difficult nature of the course has produced champion golfers of top class quality. The Lancashire course was founded in 1886. It is not conventionally beautiful, surrounded by suburban housing and flanked by a railway line, but
Royal Lytham has a charm all of its own. I selected this as my number one course as it holds so many fantastic memories for me. It’s where I played my first Open Championship in 1963 at the age of just 19. It got my career started. I then went on to win the Open here in 1969.
Whether you’re a golf enthusiast or not, you can’t fail to have heard of St Andrews. As the widely referenced home of golf, steeped in over 600 years of history, you have the choice of seven courses when you play here. The old course, with all its grandeur and history, still remains a public golf course and open to everyone. In contrast the Castle course – which was built in 2008 is the newest addition to St Andrews Links and is set on a rugged cliff-top with spectacular views. In 1970 I was the defending Champion. I shot an outward 29 and birdied the 10th before play was suspended due to a flooded course. I ended up finishing 5th. It’s a unique experience to play at St Andrews - it truly is the home of golf.
Royal Birkdale Golf Club was formed in 1889 in an area which now boasts three Royal Links courses. The course underwent a redesign in 1922, it’s this design coupled with the prevailing winds of the Irish Sea that provide the backdrop to one of the most regular and challenging venues for the Open. The 1969 Ryder Cup held at Royal Birkdale was the scene of the famous Jack Nicklaus concession on the 18th hole. It was the first tie in 42 years of Ryder Cup history, and this memory is as vivid for me today as it was then. Two years later the Open was held at Royal Birkdale and I went on to finish third.
Turnberry in Scotland
Following its £200 million redevelopment, Trump Turnberry as it’s now known, offers ultimate luxury and boasts a lighthouse as part of its guest suites. The first course opened at Turnberry in 1901. In 1977 the current iconic Ailsa course hosted its first Open and has gone on to host the prestigious tournament a further three times. I have spent a lot of down time at Turnberry - it’s a wonderful facility, with marvellous views. The combination of the hotel and the courses makes it a wonderful place to visit with the family and enjoy a round of golf. It is certainly a place that I would recommend for a visit.
Sunningdale came into existence in 1899, with the old course opening in 1901. The Old Course is considered one of the best inland courses in the UK. The new course opened in 1923 and was expanded in 1934. Sunningdale is my number five.
Both the old and new courses are fantastic, totally unique. This place exemplifies what inland golf and golf in the UK is all about, it attracts lots of visitors from the USA, and it shows them British golf at its finest. In fact, I don’t know anyone who has been to Sunningdale and didn’t love it.