What we say
Royal Birkdale, part of England's Golf Coast, has spent the past decade within the upper echelons of the Golf World Top 100 Courses rankings and The Open-hosting Southport course is among finest links in the world. Chris Bertram explains why it's so highly regarded.
Inevitably, there aren’t any courses in Britain and Ireland that engender universal affection, but Royal Birkdale is one that comes closer than most.
Few would argue with it being a fixture in our GB&I top 10 for the past decade and any dissenters are far fewer in number than for almost any other venue. This widespread affection is surely due to the all-round quality of Birkdale. It is not as pretty as Turnberry or perhaps as strategic as Lytham. It is not as clever as Muirfield or as beguiling as St George’s, but it does not fail in any of these categories.
It is fair and challenging, inspiring and immaculate. When we mark Birkdale out of 10 in our various categories, it never creeps below an eight and often receives a nine.
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So it is with good reason it is one of the most popular venues for The Open and during Padraig Harrington’s victory here, the early evening weekend sunshine helped encapsulate all its finery beautifully.
Royal Birkdale's championship layout begins with one of the most demanding 1st holes on the rota.
Shaped almost like a double dog-leg, it is fully 450 yards off the backs with an infuriating bunker on the left of the fairway. Even if you start with a good drive, you then have to feather a hybrid or fairway wood onto a green guarded by three traps and a large mound front right which hides much of your target.
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The 1st hole takes you among dunes which you cut through for much of the opening 14 holes and the best of Birkdale is arguably the next two. These are two wonderful par 4s, shorter than the 1st but by no means straightforward. The 2nd is a slight dog-leg to the left that plays into the prevailing wind. You notice two bunkers peering back at you from the right of the fairway as you stand on the tee but mostly you are drinking in the crumpled fairway that stretches before you. Six more traps await at a green encircled by rough-strewn banks.
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Lytham, further up the coast, is famed for its bunkering, but it is not the only course in Lancashire with plenty of pits, for more sand awaits on the 3rd, with drive bunkers either side of a fairway that you want to favour on its left side to gain a ‘look’ at the angled green whose surrounds were re-contoured for the 2008 Open. It is a ‘mere’ 373 yards, but a par is always an achievement.
Coming home, many will point to the 12th as a highlight. It is indubitably a classic par 3 but it is not a lone star. Even with the last four occupying more open terrain, there is no drop in quality.
The short 14th is broadly the equal of the 12th while the 15-bunker 15th starts a 5, 4, 5, 5 finish that gives amateurs the chance of a climax to reflect on satisfyingly for years after.
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The two-tier green on 17 attracted criticism in 2008 but has been softened, while the 18th (par 4 in The Open) has out of bounds up the right but is reachable at 441 yards for many visitors in calm conditions.
Having a run at a birdie putt under the nose of the iconic art deco clubhouse is one of the joys of the well-rounded Birkdale experience.
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- TG Rating
- Players Rating
- Address Waterloo Road, , Southport
- Tel 01704 552020
- Website www.royalbirkdale.com
|Course Length||7,156 yards (6,543 metres)|
- Course has: Bar
- Course has: Buggy Hire
- Course has: Driving Range
- Course has: Practice Green
- Course has: Pro Shop
- Course has: Restaurant
- Course has: Trolley Hire
- Course has: Dress Code
- Course has: Club Hire
- Course has: Handicap
Played it several times and there are some fantastic golf holes here. In the summer you really need to be a good long iron player to score well. Accuracy is everything because the fairway bunkers are truly penal. The greens are actually not that difficult because they are so evenly paced but miss them and you will regret it because green side chipping here isn't easy. It's just a great course and I suspect it's a great membership too - all the staff I have met over the years are first rate too.
Its good, but its too easy, I shot a 64 gross, a piece of piss
this is truly a magnificent test of golf, but it doesn't compare with haydock park golf club, yes Birkdale may have the history, the open, but in terms of golf course quality, haydock park beats this hands down, sorry Birkdale
What can you say about Birkdale? Played it off the White tees with the Captain of another golf club in windy conditions. The staff were fantastic from the very 1st moment that we arrived. Playing in the wind is fantastic here especially with the wind on your back for the last 2 holes which are real birdie chances, just beware of the contours on the 17th. Well worth the visit.
My wife organised a round for myself and two others as a surprise birthday present. I was concerned beforehand that playing Royal Birkdale would be stuffy and unwelcoming experience and that I'd get nowhere near the Open Championship course. How wrong I was!. All of the staff that we met and dealt with were excellent. Not only were they helpful and obliging, they took time out to talk and explain about the course and the preparations for next years Open. The course itself was superb. As there are only 18 holes at Royal Birkdale, we played the course (albeit from different tee positions) that Tiger and co will play next year. The weather was kind to us, the sun stayed out throughout the round and the wind never appeared. I only wish my golf game could have done full justice to the course.