Fylde coast golf round-up: St Annes Old Links preparations for Open Championship qualifying .... including an Ironman triathlon
St Annes Old Links stages regional and final qualifying for golf’s Open Championship, and the other 287 hopefuls on the course this weekend are unlikely to have put in as much physical training as Daniel Webster.
That’s because the Old Links club professional is fresh from completing the Lakesman Ironman event in Cumbria.
Webster put himself through this gruelling triathlon challenge in Keswick to raise money of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool where his seven-year-old son Harry underwent two major operations.
Daniel completed the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and marathon run in 12hrs, 46mins and has so far raised almost £16,000 via his page on justgiving.com
He told The Gazette: “It was quite emotional seeing all the families at Alder Hey at a time there was no fundraising going on due to Covid, so I thought I’d challenge myself to an ironman.
“I’d never done those distances before and until last autumn I’d never run further than 5k. But I committed to it, even though there were injuries along the way and the lockdown really ruled out swim training until April.
“I’m really pleased with my overall time – I was aiming for 15 hours – and 4.35 I’m happy with for my first marathon.”
The question now is whether Daniel will have enough energy left to make home advantage count in regional qualifying on Saturday.
“I may know the course but it’s whether I’ll still be able to walk round it!” he says. “I think I can say confidently that no-one has ever tried to qualify for The Open six days after doing an ironman.”
In a break with tradition to increase safety during the pandemic, the same four venues will host regional qualifying and then final qualifying next Tuesday. The other three are Hollinwell (Nottinghamshire), West Lancashire (Liverpool) and Prince’s (adjacent to Royal St George’s in Kent, where next month’s 149th Open will be staged).
St Old Links will welcome 144 players on both Saturday and Sunday for separate regional competitions of 18 holes. Over 70 will then contest final qualifying over 36 holes on Tuesday, with a minimum of 12 Open places on offer across the four venues.
The St Annes course is open as normal until tomorrow, leaving the club one day to finalise all its preparations.
Golf services manager Lauren Oatley explained: “Qualifying will be different to past years in that no spectators are allowed, which brings its own challenges. We will close the venue down totally on Friday to make sure everything is ready and secure for the next four days (the Monday will be a practice day for final qualifiers).
“There is a lot to organise with 96 volunteers, all club members, and around 260 shifts to cover. It will be a strange atmosphere with no spectators but we realise the R&A (organisers) need to protect the championship.”
Club secretary Jane Donohoe added: “We are very happy with the preparations and the weather forecast. The one downside is that we will have no spectators but our brilliant volunteers are very enthusiastic.
“My next job is to go and pick up 500 bananas for the players!” No doubt she will spare one or two for club pro Daniel as added sustenance after his epic fundraiser.
Donations are still welcome at justgiving.com/fundraiser/danwebster-lakesman
This week’s tip from Alastair Taylor, teaching professional at Herons’ Reach Golf Club, is to swing your driver slower but hit the golf ball further....
I think most golfers want to hit the ball further with their driver, but when they hit a poor shot they are often told they swing too quickly.
I believe they are actually trying to hit the ball too hard but let me explain how you can swing slower and still hit the ball further with your driver.
The first step is to tee the ball up high and make sure that your trail shoulder is much lower than your lead shoulder, which should help you to hit up on the ball.
A great drill to get the feel of hitting up is to take your address position with the club about 24 inches behind where the ball would be.
Then drag the club head along the ground and only come away from the floor where the ball would be.
For most golfers this will get the hands leading into impact, which will keep loft off the driver while still making it travel up.
Practise a few small swings doing this, then try to repeat that sensation in your practice swing. Finally, put that into your shots and you will hit the ball longer even if you slow down to accommodate the feeling.
For more free tips and help with your golf, you can watch Ali’s YouTube channel AliTaylorGolf or contact him on [email protected]
Knott End Ladies played the first round of the annual Phil Haslam Trophy and Linda Fearn tops the leaderboard after a 69. Catherine Hutchings is second, also with 69.
Club competition results:
Group One Best nett: Sylvia Wilson 71, Best gross: Joanne Kay 84.
Group Two Best Nett: Jayne Emmington 78, Best Gross: Lady Captain Felicity Lawson 110
Group Three Best Nett: Linda Fearn 62, Best Gross: Catherine Hutchings 104.
The ladies’ nine-hole stableford at Fairhaven GC was won by Jane Welding with 23 points. Overall winner of the captain’s second qualifying round was Stuart Huskie with a 70. Other results were as follows.
Division One: 1. Andrew Wood 71, 2. Peter Bush 71.
Division Two: 1. Chris Plant 72, 2. Andrew Lavin 73.
Division Three: 1. Michael Marsden 71, 2. Paul Dixon 72.
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