Countdown on to next year’s Open

Darren Clarke holds the Claret Jug after winning the 2011 Open Championship during round four of the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 17, 2011. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information
Darren Clarke holds the Claret Jug after winning the 2011 Open Championship during round four of the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 17, 2011. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information
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IT’S all systems go for the return of the world’s biggest golf tournament to the Fylde next summer.

The countdown to the 2012 Open Championship at the Royal Lytham and St Annes course is well and truly on after a super victory for veteran Irishman Darren Clarke brought this year’s competition to a memorable climax.

As the scoreboard at Royal St Georges displayed a message looking forward to Royal Lytham next July, a contingent of tourism representatives from Fylde and Lancashire looked back on a highly productive trip to Kent.

Viv Wood and Rachel Postlethwaite from Fylde Council’s tourism department spent a week at Royal St George’s dealing with inquiries regarding all matters concerning next year’s Open – the first at Royal Lytham since 2001.

“It was a very busy and fruitful week,” said Viv. “There was constant activity from visitors from all over the world and everyone is really looking forward to the chance to visit the Fylde and Lancashire next year.

“We had one man who made a single accommodation inquiry for 70 rooms, while another wanted advice on where best to land his 90-seater aircraft.”

Viv said potential visitors wanting accommodation were already being pointed towards Southport and other neighbouring areas.

“But that certainly doesn’t mean all the accommodation in Lytham St Annes has gone,” she said. “A number of providers are still to release rooms as they finalise prices.

“It was a great experience but it really brought it home to me how much we can offer visitors to our area,” said Viv. “For example, we have good motorway links, wider roads than there are down there, railway links straight to the course and park and ride facilities which are much closer then they were at Royal St George’s.”

Meanwhile, the professional’s shop at the Royal Lytham course is already selling 2012 Open memorabilia, with a wide range covering everything from caps and shirts to tees and markers.

Clarke will come to Royal Lytham as reigning champion after winning his first major title at the age of 42. He went into this year’s event ranked 111th in the world but in his 20th Open, beat Americans Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson by three.