Royal Birkdale 2008

By: Shaun Parker

The Birkdale golf club was formed on 30 July 1889 with the promise "to make all necessary arrangements and incur all necessary expense as to preparing the course and greens, hiring a professional and providing suitable accommodation for a Clubhouse etc." The preference for quality over expense make the Royal Birkdale an excellent choice for the 2008 Open Championship.

Tradition states that the Treasurer would provide "whiskey and aerated waters" for the club members. This practice may no longer be active but the venue still offers much in the way of luxury hospitality. With private chalets in the hospitality village offering seating for 30 or 50 guests, sky hospitality boxes offering panoramic balcony views over the first tee and a dedicated open championship restaurant the Royal Birkdale retains its promise to cater for VIPs.

The Royal Birkdale is a links course and is located near Southport on the west coast of the UK. It compromises 5% of the Sefton Coast sand dunes that have recognised as being of special scientific interest. It is known for its challenging bunkers and sea breezes so is a perfect destination for golfers that are fans of sand dunes and salty air. It is home to the nationally rare Natterjack toad, Pipistrelle bat, Red Squirrel and the Sand Lizard. As well as being home to a wide variety of flora and fauna the dunes offer a fantastic platform for spectators.

The course is ranked 12th in the world and is regarded as the best golf course in England. It is considered a fair but unforgiving course. The attractive 183-yard par three 12th is one of the courses many highlights. It provides a challenge with its deep bunkers and rough grass that protect the green. The 467 yard 18th is sure to provide excitement. With a narrow entrance to the green flanked by three unforgiving bunkers the hole can prove troublesome but the opportunity to birdie make his a thrilling final hole.

The last open played at the Royal Birkdale was won by Mark O'Meara in 1998. He joined an illustrious list of past winners on the course that includes, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson and Ian Baker-Finch. The course has also brought us some of the best young British golfers. At the age of 20 Nick Faldo won his first 72-hole professional event at the Royal Birkdale winning the 1978 Colgate PGA Championship. More recently we saw the 17-year-old Justin Rose chip in on the 18th to achieve the highest finish for an amateur in modern times.

The Open will take place between the 17-20 July 2008 at the Royal Birkdale Club, Waterloo Road, Birkdale, Southport, Merseyside, PR8 2LX, England. With the popular choice of venue golf fans can expect an exciting summer and with the BBC set to cover the event those fans that are not able to make the most of the course hospitality will be able to enjoy the event from home.

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