58 Southport & Ainsdale
Stats: 6,728 yds, par 72, SSS 74
Visitor information: Visitors can’t play before 9.44am weekdays or Thursday mornings (ladies day) until 1.04pm
2008 Ranking: 50 (Down 8)
Improvements since 2008 Rankings:
Course: Hole 14 remodelled with new dunes and bunkers added
You know this is going to be a proper test from the off, with the par-3 1st in front of the clubhouse protected by no fewer than nine bunkers – right up there with Lytham for opening long-iron difficulty. Twice a Ryder Cup host in the 1930s, this championship links is only separated from its Birkdale and Hillside neighbours by the railway line that acts as a golf ball magnet from 15 to 17. The course loses its links feel a shade for a short back-nine spell, but comes back strongly, especially on 16 where the blind second over a sleepered 20ft bank can be daunting.
Panellists’ comments: “Brilliantly true and consistently paced greens”; “The opening hole, a par 3, is not called ‘Trial’ for nothing!”