Where To Golf Next

No bowing to the Royals

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A view of the 18th hole and the Wallasey Golf Club clubhouse. (Photo: England’s Golf Coast)

Golfers in the United States are so accustomed to hearing about the Royal links that host the British Open — Birkdale (venue of this year’s 146th playing of the championship), Lytham & St. Annes, and Liverpool — along England’s northwest coast that they may be surprised at the quality alternatives.

"We are so spoiled for choices here," said Geoff Harris, manager of England’s Golf Coast, an organization that promotes golf along the country’s northwestern coastline from just above Blackpool on the northern end to the Wirral peninsula in the south. 

"Most avid golfers obviously come first to play the historic and equally challenging three championship Royal links. Even neighboring Hillside, Southport & Ainsdale, Formby and West Lancashire are making their way onto more ‘must play’ lists of visiting golfers. But there are many others that are not as well known that also make great memorable days on the links.” 

Following are a quartet of courses worthy of play either on their own or as a nice complement to a 36-hole day that might also include one of the other Royal courses.

DELAMERE FOREST GOLF CLUB

Delamere Forest may not be a true links course, but it is a true heathland course. The land, in prehistoric times, was covered by the sea, so the pure sand base layout drains immediately even after the heaviest cloud burst.  

Noted golf course architect Tom Doak has described this 1910 Herbert Fowler design as being among the best conditioned courses in England. 

To celebrate the course’s opening, the club held an 18-hole match that included James Braid, Sandy Herd and Ted Ray, a trio that combined to win eight British and U.S. Open championships. Braid shot 77 to win.

FLEETWOOD GOLF CLUB

Situated hard against the Fylde Coast, Fleetwood is a links course that often goes overlooked. 

Fleetwood has been verified by the R&A as being the oldest links course in England. While the club’s origins date to 1861, the course moved to its third and current location in 1893.  

With green fees around £40 (about $51.50), Fleetwood makes a perfect companion course to Royal Lytham for a 36-hole day that doesn't break the bank.

SOUTHPORT GOLF LINKS

England’s oldest municipal golf course was founded and opened as a nine-hole course near the Irish Sea in 1912. The course, designed by Harry S. Colt, was expanded to 18 holes in the 1930s. 

Southport has undergone major lengthening and refurbishing in the past 10 years. Don’t let the reasonable under £20 green fee (about $25.70) lull you into thinking it’s a pushover. On the contrary, especially in ever-constant breezes. 

WALLASEY GOLF CLUB

At one time or the other we all come across a card-wrecking hole that we just cannot seem to score well on. For Dr. Frank Stableford that hole was the challenging second hole at Wallasey.

Wallasey Golf Club scene
The heavily-bunkered 12th green at Wallasey Golf Club.

The heavily-bunkered 12th green at Wallasey Golf Club. (Photo: England's Golf Coast)

Since the hole came so early in the round and often spoiled the enjoyment of the ensuing sixteen holes, he invented the Stableford scoring system in 1898. The system awards a positive or negative points to strokes in relation to par. Players are not allowed to score more than a double bogey on a hole. 

Today, across the British Isles, Stableford is the usual method of scoring and is why a golfer may be asked, “How many points did you have today?” instead of “What did you shoot?”  

Wallasey is also home to a valuable piece of golf memorabilia. In 1930, Bobby Jones sat for his famous blue sweater portrait before going on to win the Open Championship at neighboring Royal Liverpool and historic Grand Slam. The original painting still belongs to the Club.

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THE ESSENTIALS

DELAMERE FOREST GOLF CLUB

Location: Delamere, Cheshire, England
Phone: +44 (0) 1606.883.800
Website: www.delameregolf.co.uk
Twitter: @delameregolf

FLEETWOOD GOLF CLUB

Location: Fleetwood, England
Phone: +44 (0) 1253.773.573
Website: www.fleetwoodgolf.co.uk
Twitter: @FleetwoodGC

SOUTHPORT GOLF LINKS

Location: Southport, England
Phone: +44 (0) 1704.535.286
Website: www.sefton.gov.uk/sport-leisure/golf-in-sefton/southport-golf-links.aspx

WALLASEY GOLF CLUB

Location: Wallasey, England
Phone: +44 (0) 1516.911.024
Website: www.wallaseygolfclub.com
Twitter: @wallaseygolf

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Dove Jones is president of Golf Ink and has been involved in the international golf tourism industry for 25 years.

Email: DoveJ77@aol.com
Twitter: @dovetvlFOREgolf