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ROYAL BIRKDALE GOLF CLUB
One of the most dramatic of the British Open venues is the Royal Birkdale Golf Club in lovely Southport, England, whose huge dunes lining both sides of most holes immediately bring to mind images of Ballybunion in Ireland. One difference though is at Birkdale, the holes run generally in between the dunes, with little trickery, making it one of the favorites of the pros on the Open rotation. The roster of Open champions at Birkdale is impressive indeed, including Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, and Mark O’Meara. In 1961, Palmer clinched his victory with a slashing 5-iron from the rough to the right of the 16th fairway, with the spot marked by a plaque, difficult to find though in the wispy grass! Birkdale was also the venue where Seve Ballesteros burst onto the scene, finishing 2nd to Miller at the tender age of 19 in 1976, and was site of Mr. Lu’s heroics in his 1971 battle with Trevino, Ian Baker-Finch’s 29 on the front nine in the final round in 1991, Brian Watts’ great bunker shot on the 72nd green to force a playoff with O’Meara in 1998, Hale Irwin’s “whiffed” putt leading to a one-stroke defeat to Watson in 1993, indeed, the memorable moments at Birkdale are almost too numerous to list! The unique clubhouse has often been likened to a ship heading out to sea, and is another memorable part of a visit to Royal Birkdale.