Perfect Pairing: 2017 Open Championship Venue, Royal Birkdale
One of the most anticipated tournaments of the year is upon us: The Open Championship. The 146th edition of this prestigious event will be contested at Royal Birkdale on England’s northwest coast.
The stout links course has previously hosted the tournament nine times, most recently in 2008. Royal Birkdale was originally tapped to host the 1940 Open Championship, but the tournament was cancelled due to World War II. The stunning seaside layout hosted its first Open Championship in 1954 and carved a prominent place in The Open’s storied history over the past 60 years.
In 1961, after finishing second the year before, Arnold Palmer won his first Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in dramatic fashion (of course). A plaque on the 16th hole (which, in 1961, was the 15th) commemorates Palmer’s iconic shot from thick rough amongst blackberry bushes. Instead of playing a wedge to get back in the fairway, Palmer selected a 6-iron and set his sights on the green. With a soaring shot still talked about to this day, he hit the putting surface and went on to win the tournament by a single stroke.
If you’re feeling inspired while watching The Open this weekend, why not plan your own European golf vacation in this golf-rich neck of the woods? We have tee times available on Royal Birkdale as early as September, an ideal time to visit and play in England.
Imagine teeing it up where legendary golfers such as Palmer, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson and Padraig Harrington have won titles. In 2008, Harrington captured his second consecutive Open victory, becoming the first European to do so since James Braid in 1906. He will aim to take the Claret Jug home from Royal Birkdale for the second time in less than a decade. Good luck, Padraig!
In addition to Open Championships, Royal Birkdale has also hosted the Curtis Cup (1948), Walker Cup (1951), two Ryder Cups (1965, 1969) and four Women’s British Open Championships (2000, 2005, 2010, 2014).
A popular course for both men and women since its founding in 1889, Birkdale elected its first female members in 1890. In fact, one of the first tournaments it hosted was the 1909 Ladies British Open Match-Play Championship. This course is enjoyable for golfers of all playing abilities.
Although the fairways are surprisingly flat, they are also extremely narrow making accuracy essential. Pot bunkers sprinkled throughout the course place a premium on precision for approach shots. Thanks to clever routing, consecutive holes rarely play in the same direction ensuring exposure to a variety of wind conditions.
Royal Birkdale is a “must-play” for both its history and design. For a truly epic European golf vacation, add fellow Open Championship venues Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club and Royal Liverpool Golf Club to your itinerary.
Situated on the coast an hour’s drive north of Royal Birkdale, Royal Lyntham & St. Annes is just as prolific a tournament host. The challenging layout has welcomed The Open 11 times, most recently in 2012. It has also hosted numerous other esteemed events including the Walker Cup in 2015, two Ryder Cups, four Women’s British Open Championships and four Senior Open Championships. Featuring more than 200 bunkers, this renowned design requires solid strategy and accurate shots.
An hour’s drive southwest of Royal Birkdale lies equally prestigious Royal Liverpool. A 12-time Open Championship venue, most recently in 2014, Royal Liverpool’s Hoylake is the second oldest English seaside course. Built on a racecourse of the Liverpool Hunt Club, the golf course doubled as a horse racing track in its earliest years. With only six holes nestled amongst the dunes, wind is an important factor. Our founder, Joe Carr, won his first British Amateur Open at Royal Liverpool in 1953.