Open Golf leaders met on the Fylde coast to sign an agreement which will help Royal Lytham and St Annes to remain at the heart of the event’s tour.
Representatives from organisers Royal & Ancient, Fylde Council and other authorities, police and rail companies pledged to work together to support The Open as a world class sporting event in the region.
The agreement, signed yesterday at Royal Lytham and St Annes, will help the forward planning and development of future Open Golf events at Royal Lytham, Royal Birkdale, and Royal Liverpool.
Golf’s oldest championship returns to Royal Birkdale in 2017, the third time in a five–year period it will have been held in the region after Royal Lytham and St Annes in 2012, and Royal Liverpool in 2014. The three venues have hosted The Open on more than 30 occasions and last year more than 200,000 spectators attended at Hoylake.
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, R&A executive director - championships, said: “The Open shares a rich heritage with the great links courses on England’s golf coast and we are delighted to receive this commitment from the organisations that support us in delivering the Championship.
“We look forward to working closely with them in future to successfully deliver The Open.”
The Open shares a rich heritage with the great links courses on England’s golf coastJohnnie Cole-Hamilton
Fylde Council chief executive Allan Oldfield said: “What we have signed up to is similar to a document they already have in Scotland.
“It is a framework for the three North West courses.
“In the past, when an Open is announced, it has almost been like starting afresh every time.
“It’s about us all being aware of changes between events that can have an impact on The Open. For example in Birkdale they use a school – just as they do here with St Thomas in St Annes – and it changed into an academy. It meant the R&A had to renegotiate terms with them, so it’s about making sure we are aware of the effects change has.
“It doesn’t stop building work or anything – just makes us aware of the needs of the tournament so alternatives can be found.
“I hope to be at the council when the next Open comes, but I won’t see one after that, and it’s about keeping a framework in place.
“It is common sense, really.”
Independent event impact research conducted by the Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University indicates a three-venue rotation of The Open in the North West delivers an economic benefit of more than £200million across the three occasions the Championship is staged.
The R&A regularly stages amateur championships and international matches in the region.
Last month, The Boys Amateur Championship was played at Royal Birkdale and Southport and Ainsdale and later this week, the Walker Cup match between Great Britain and Ireland and the United States of America takes place at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
There are nine signatories to the new Memorandum of Understanding on hosting The Open in the North West; In addition to The R&A, the borough councils of Fylde, Sefton and Wirral, Lancashire County Council, Merseyside Police and Lancashire Constabulary, Merseytravel, Merseyrail and Northern Rail.