Lytham Finally Returns To The Major Rota

Royal Lytham & St Annes will return to the major calendar in 2026 but not in the tournament that many predicted. It was thought that the men's Open might go to the Blackpool coast to celebrate the centenary of their first Open in 1926, when Bobby Jones won the first of his three Claret Jugs.

But it will now be the AIG Women's Open that will head to Lytham, eight years on from Georgia Hall's iconic victory there. It will be the sixth time that Lytham has hosted the Women's Open and previous winners there include Annika Sorenstam and Catriona Matthew.

“Royal Lytham and St Annes has a long and proud history of hosting the biggest golf championships in the world and we are delighted to be taking the AIG Women’s Open there in 2026,” R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers explained this week.

“It is one of the finest links courses in the United Kingdom and has produced many memorable champions, including Georgia Hall’s 2018 victory to the rapturous applause of a home crowd. We look forward to making more memories at Royal Lytham and adding to the history of the AIG Women’s Open on this world-class links.”

Next year the Women's Open will head to the Old Course at St Andrews before moving to Royal Porthcawl in Wales so this continues a run of spectacular links layouts that continue to elevate the Championship.

In terms of the men the last time they went to Lytham was back in 2012 when Ernie Els lifted the Claret Jug and the club appeared to be edge out by Royal Birkdale for the 2026 Championship.

Back in 2019 Slumbers gave us an insight into the reasons why Lytham is struggling to host The Open and, on paper at least, it looks to be a far easier fit with the women – this week at Walton Heath the crowds are expected to number around 50,000.

“Royal Lytham is a fantastic course and in terms of infrastructure is right up there. We get around 200,000 spectators in the week but it’s a squeeze and the TV compound is five acres of land. That’s where Lytham gets a bit tight but it can be done. Hoylake is a bit easier in that regard. We are lucky to have three great courses in that part of the world and choosing between them is never easy."