The Open Championship returns to Royal Lytham and St Annes next week, for the first time since David Duval won the Claret Jug there in 2001. The course, famous also for Bobby Jones's iconic championship-winning shot from the scrub on the seventeenth hole, and Seve Ballesteros's first Open win in 1979, has been significantly altered for the event.
Golf architect Martin Ebert, a partner in British firm Mackenzie & Ebert, is behind the changes. Over a two year period, Ebert oversaw a wide range of alterations, including a brand new green on the par five seventh hole, plus construction of new dune formations in several places. A range of additional tees, and bunker adjustments on most holes completed the work.
Ebert said: "We aimed to toughen up the test of the course from the tee on many holes by fine-tuning the drive bunkering, adding dunes and adding back tees. The most significant change was moving the green back on the par five seventh, as the old hole was being over-powered.”
Secretary Graham Cochrane said the changes had already met with the approval of the club's membership. "The work was quite extensive and yet it remains entirely in character with the rest of the course and the members have already enjoyed the changes for two years," he said. "We look forward to hosting the Open and to seeing how the course performs.”
The course has been lengthened from 6,905 yards for the 2001 Open to 7,086 yards now, with much of that length being added to the par fives.