2012 British Open Championship

2012 British Open Championship
2012 British Open Championship - The 2012 Open Championship Golf Tournament returns to Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club for the first time since 2001. The previous year, Tiger Woods had won the first of his three British Open titles at St. Andrews. Woods was denied in his repeat bid, however, as the 2001 event was won by David Duval over Niclas Fasth.

Here are 10 things to help fans familiarize themselves with the course, including an item regarding American golf legend Bobby Jones being forced to buy a ticket -- so that he could finish winning the championship.

1. Location - Royal Lytham & St. Annes is located at Links Gate, Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire, UK. The course is just south of Blackpool, close enough to the coast that tricky breezes will most likely be a factor throughout the Open Championship.

2. Origins - The Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club originated in 1886, and the present course was completed in 1897 (designed by George Lowe, the club's first professional). The clubhouse reached its 100th birthday back in 1998. The only significant changes to the course were initiated in 1919 by Harry Colt, which resulted in a longer course with some greens and bunkers repositioned. These changes are credited with bringing the course its first Open Championship in 1926.

3. Layout - The course is pretty much an out-and-back links with a few minor (such as the fourth and 13th holes) backtracks. The back nine is generally the part of the course where the wind plays a bigger part, with the players often finding the breeze directly in their faces.

4. Description - Royal Lytham & St. Annes is not what you might call picturesque; the website for the course says "it is not a conventionally beautiful golf course" as it is surrounded by housing on three sides. There is also a rail line that meanders along next to the course on the front nine. No panoramic ocean views here, yet a course with a character of its own nonetheless.

5. Enough Sand for a Beach - There are over 200 bunkers (206 to be exact) that pockmark the course in all manner of configurations. Check out the 18th hole, which has nearly 20 bunkers crisscrossing the fairway and lining the green. The clubhouse also looms at the back of the green.

6. Play - Long hitters such as Bubba Watson will have to make sure to bring their short game if they hope to see themselves in the hunt when the weekend rolls around. The incredible amount of bunkers, plus the number of par-3 holes (the course begins with a par-3 and has a total of three such holes in the first nine, both features unique to Royal Lytham & St Annes in the Open Championship rotation) will force players to tread lightly as opposed to simply launching continuous bombs from the tee.

7. Past Champions - While not the host with the half-a-decade regularity of St. Andrews, Royal Lytham & St Annes will showcase its 11th Open Championship. Past champions include: Bobby Jones - 1926 (amateur), Bobby Locke - 1952; Peter Thomson - 1958; Bob Charles - 1963; Tony Jacklin - 1969; Gary Player - 1974; Seve Ballesteros - 1979 and 1988; Tom Lehman - 1996; David Duval - 2001; (unknown) - 2012

8. Dormy House - Care to stay and play at the course? While not a viable option during the Open Championship, the Dormy House is available at times throughout the year for visitors to try the links while spending a night or two in the comforts of a bed and breakfast accommodation.

9. VIP day - Royal Lytham will allow groups to contest their own tournament on the course during one of the club's VIP days. For 20,000 pounds (25,000 for a shotgun start), your group will enjoy golf and catering for up to 72 people, an 18-hole tournament on the Championship course complete with crystal prizes, dinner with wine in the Club Room, a clinic with the club pro, and much more. See the website for additional details.

10. Pay to Play - Back to Bobby Jones in 1926. The story goes that, to ease tension, Jones left the club between rounds on Friday (the two final rounds were both played on Friday back then) to go back to the Majestic Hotel. When Jones returned to the course, he had forgotten his competitor's entry ticket. The guard on duty failed to recognize him (remember, he was still an amateur at the time), causing the man who would go on to hoist the Claret Jug that year to pay admission as a spectator. Jones remains the only Open Champion to have ever paid his way into the venue.

Source: yahoo.com