#15 463 Yards, Par Four
The fifteenth often plays long, with the wind either in your face or quartering against you. In 1996 there were two fairway bunkers near the landing area. For this year's Open, a third right-side fairway bunker has been added, which promises to make the fifteenth an even tougher hole. A good tee shot still leaves a half-blind long-iron or middle-iron approach to a green that slopes away to the left.
#16 357 Yards, Par Four
The sixteenth is the shortest of the five finishing holes, but it's not easy. You start with another blind tee shot. The hole doglegs to the right and the prevailing wind blows that way; as a result, a lot of shots are missed right. The angle of attack to the green, surrounded by eight bunkers, is much better from the left. But if you overcook your drive, you'll wind up in one of the three left-side fairway bunkers.
#17 467 Yards, Par Four
The seventeenth is truly a great and historic hole. This dogleg left is defended by no less than twenty-one bunkers, most of which guard the inside edges of the fairway. Avoiding them is not easy, because the prevailing wind blows your tee shot from right to left. In 1996 I hit a three-wood off the tee and then tried to land short of the green with an iron and let the ball bounce up. That strategy produced birdies in the first two rounds. In the final round, I drove into a bunker and had to blast out sideways en route to a bogey.
#18 414 Yards, Par Four
I think the eighteenth is the coolest hole at Royal Lytham because you have so many options on your tee shot. You can hit driver, three-wood or one-iron. You can aim left, right or straight up the middle. Whatever you choose, you've got to control both your distance and your direction very precisely to avoid the seven bunkers that guard the three main landing areas left, right and center. The green is huge, but it's fronted by six bunkers. If you play safe by going long on your approach, you may find yourself reenacting the left-handed shot Gary Player was forced to hit in 1974 after he airmailed the green and ended up next to the clubhouse wall.
The Open: It's not too late to see this year's British Open (July 15-22). The trick is accommodations. For possible last-minute openings contact the Fylde Borough Council Travel & Visitor Centre (011-44-1253-725-610; firstname.lastname@example.org). Flying In: The nearest international airport is at Manchester, an hour's drive away. Open Tickets: Daily tickets to the practice (£5-£20) and championship rounds (£35) can be purchased by phone through July 5 from The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (011-44-1334-460-010; opengolf.com), or at the gate each day of the event on a first-come, first-served basis. Package Trips: Golf outfitters such as Jerry Quinlan's Celtic Golf (800-535-6148), PerryGolf (800-344-5257) and InterGolf (800-468-0051) may be able to arrange a last-minute trip, depending on cancellations.
Where To Play
Handicap certificates (twenty-one or better for men, twenty-nine for women) are recommended at most clubs. Call first.
Roayal Lytham & St. Anne's Golf Club
011-44-1253-724-206. In August the course reopens to visitors on Mondays and Thursdays. Green Fee: £92; includes lunch.
Lytham Green Drive Golf Club
011-44-1253-737-390. Wednesday is ladies' day. Club introduction required. Green Fees: £27 per round; £37 per day.