As British Summer Time comes to an end, the nights draw in, the leaves on the trees fall and course conditions understandably become trickier, many golfers turn their attention to links golf. Why? Well, mainly because course conditions are a lot drier. (This article cannot guarantee you no rain though…)
The beautiful Southport coastline stretches across 22 miles (35.4km) in Merseyside and boasts some of the best courses in England. Perhaps the most prestigious of them all is The Open Championship venue Royal Birkdale Golf Club which has hosted the claret jug on 10 occasions and is considered by many as the best links course in the world.
Below we explore the other venues which make up this magnificent golfing region.
Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club was founded in 1886 and the present course was constructed in 1897. The Clubhouse celebrated its Centenary in 1998. It is one of the premier links courses in the world, host to ten Open Championships, two Ryder Cups and numerous other major tournaments including the Women's and Seniors Open Championships.
Formby Golf Club is a real championship links golf course. The club was founded in 1884. It is located in a natural environment with sand dunes and pinewoods. Greens are well protected by bunkers and fairways are undulated as one might expect. Add a number of challenging tee shots and you have a challenging golf course anyone would want to visit.
Formby Golf Club has hosted many international golf tournaments like The Curtis Cup and several Men’s Amateur Championships.
The iconic clubhouse is ranked amongst the best in the world and provides fabulous Dormy accommodation with a history in which to marvel.
The West Lancashire Golf Club was founded in 1873 by seven members of Royal Liverpool Golf Club anxious to expand the 'Scottish national game' by bringing it across the River Mersey.
As such, the West Lancashire Golf Club is the oldest in the county of Lancashire and one of the earliest golf clubs in England. It is considered as one of the most natural and testing links found in the Brittain.
The current course was designed by C K Cotton, and is laid out on some 200 acres of land and succeeds in carrying out the ideal layout of a golf course – two loops of nine holes with the 9th and 18th greens in front of the clubhouse.
Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club was founded in 1906 and is known for the challenge it poses for both amateurs and professional golfers.
Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club began hosting professional events as early as 1917, when J. H Taylor, Ted Ray and James Braid played an exhibition match to raise funds for the war effort to help wounded soldiers.
This was the beginning of a long association with the professional game. The Club hosted many professional tournaments including the Ryder Cup in 1933 and 1937.
Hillside Golf Club is situated in Southport, the home of "England's Golf Coast". The golf course forms part of England's finest stretch of coastal links being adjacent to Royal Birkdale and Southport & Ainsdale with Formby Golf Club a few miles down the road. A true championship links, Hillside is proud to have been chosen to host Open Championship Final Qualifying each year from 2014, together with a superb track record in hosting the world's major amateur events.
The Wallasey Golf Club was established in 1891 and has conventional links of 6,607 yards with its undulating fairways and dunes. It is located overlooking Liverpool Bay and the Irish Sea on the Wirral peninsula, leaving it open to the daunting sea breeze. It is one of the great northern links courses, originally designed by Tom Morris Senior and later altered by Alec Herd, Harold Hilton and James Braid — other notable golfing figures.
Many great events have been hosted by the course, including The Open's qualifying rounds, most recently when the championship returned to nearby Royal Liverpool in 2006. The club hosted the qualification rounds of the Amateur Championship in 1995 and again in 2000.
Founded in 1901, St Annes Old Links is one of the fine championship links of England’s north west coast. The Old Links has been represented in many "Top 100 Courses in England" lists.
The signature 9th hole was voted by Golf World in the May 2010 issue as the "Top 9th Hole in Great Britain and Ireland". The great Bobby Jones is quoted as saying "it's difficult to see how you could improve on this". Enough said!
Like all great links, the course is designed to test your patience and resilience so whether you are a seasoned professional or an enthusiastic beginner, St Annes Old Links looks forward to your visit.
The course is a combination of links and parkland and has been laid-out through mature sand dunes. Amongst the backdrop are the Victorian villas of a residential area in Southport.
The course was originally designed by little known J O F Morris, but was later redesigned by George Lowe - who designed the original course at Royal Birkdale and Royal Lytham - as well as the legendary James Braid.
Hesketh Golf Club is situated next to a nature reserve and is marked a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Seabirds and other wildlife provide an added attraction for visitors.
Founded in 1896 Formby Ladies Golf Club is an independent golf club, with an 18 hole course and clubhouse situated within the 470 acre Formby Golf Club estate, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Formby Ladies’ narrow fairways, lined with heather and its small greens protected by well positioned pot bunkers certainly demand that all golfers play with precision rather than relying on length of shot.
The Royal Liverpool is the oldest of all the English seaside clubs, except for 'Westward Ho!' in Devon, which was founded only a few years earlier.
In 2019, a year that also saw the Walker Cup return to Hoylake, The Club celebrated its 150th birthday, having made its last appearance in 1983. The Match was a perfect addition to the celebrations of the proud past and the significant role of Royal Liverpool in the growth of the amateur game.
In 2023, Royal Liverpool Golf Club will host the 151st Open Championship.
Have you played any of these famous links golf in Southport before? Why not let us know your thoughts on them and write a review?
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