links golf prizes accuracy, and at the dogleg-left sixth ole at Royal Lytham & St. Annes the options are determined by how far one hits the tee shot. It is 240 yards to finish beside the pot bunker gouged into the rough-covered mound on
the left; 260 or 280 to land short of two bunkers resembling upturned catcher’s mitts pinching the dogleg’s
outside curve; 300 or more with a draw to stay left of the
right-side bunkers and bound beyond them.
The course first challenged British Open competitors
in 1926. As the Open again arrives at Lytham, it is tempting to consider how the game’s best players have solved
the riddle of the sixth, which this year has been converted
to a par 4. Where did Tony Jacklin hit it in 1969 when he
became Britain’s first Open champ in nearly two decades?
Did Seve Ballesteros take the same route every day to
triumph in 1979 and 1988? What about David Duval when
he shot 65 on Saturday en route to his 2001 win?
The addition of 35
yards and a new green
complex make the
seventh at Lytham an
excellent example of
the R&A’s aggressive
The history is a figment. Those hazards on the right did
not exist 36 months ago.
For more than a decade the organizations conducting tournaments at the game’s highest levels have made
extensive course changes as a counterweight to the length
and accuracy achieved by players of this era. The R&A
has been in the vanguard, adding significant length to
selected holes for nearly two decades. But beginning with
2006 host Royal Liverpool and continuing through recently announced 2016 host Royal Troon, the organization has
conducted an Open venue-development program. This
thorough assessment and reworking inside the ropes,
costing an average of $800,000 per course, has continued
along with triple-digit additions to scorecard yardages
that have sparked widespread discussion. But the host
clubs, the R&A and their architectural consultants have
also fortified these venues with another tool that has gone
largely unmentioned: bunkers.
The clubs that have hosted the Open, beginning with
Royal Liverpool in 2006, have added, altered, relocated
or eliminated more than 200 bunkers. The work is part
of an $8 million program the R&A formally announced in