Golf on The Wirral boast a good mix of fine tests from parkland courses to renowned links, among them last year’s Open Championship host at Royal Liverpool
Royal Liverpool, or Hoylake, is undoubtedly the cream of golf on The Wirral. The course has a slightly different feel to other Open venues, perhaps as a result of the large practice area just across the 1st fairway (the 3rd hole during The Open), which the later holes also circumvent.
But as the links moves away towards the Dee estuary, and then along it for a memorable back-nine stretch, it visits some classic and intriguing linksland, which forms a formidable adversary especially when the wind is blowing in unfettered off the Irish Sea.
Wallasey is a splendid links towards the north-eastern tip of the pensinula, playing through rugged duneland for the most part.
The 2nd, where anything too far right spells danger, is the tough par 4 that inspired Dr Frank Stableford to refine his points scoring system, but it is perhaps the 3rd that really brings the links alive, climbing gradually to a raised two-tiered green guarded by a solitary pot bunker.
The back nine starts with a right-angle dogleg where the approach is played steeply uphill, and then my two favourite holes back to back – a superb par 4 along a hog’s back with a fearsome bunker front right, and the wonderful downhill par-3 12th.
Almost next door to Wallasey, Leasowe is another links enjoying views both south-west towards the mountains of North Wales, and north up towards the Lake District.
After a reasonably accommodating opening trio, the links hits hard on the 4th, a long par 4 along the seawall, before another short dogleg par 4 that longer hitters may not be able to resist.
Then comes the course’s longest hole, a straight 560-yarder with OOB all the way down the left. From here, it’s an enjoyable challenge all the way home.
Caldy is another Wirral course hugging the Dee estuary a short drive south of Hoylake, and the holes along the estuary from the 4th to the 6th are the visual stars of the show.
It finishes in style too with a very strong par-3 17th, and then an excellent dogleg par-5 finale. The 17th requires a mid-iron to a split-level green set just beyond a stream called Thor’s Dyke, while the 18th sweeps up and round to the right, with OOB a constant threat on your right, especially up nearer the green.
Heswall may enjoy some wonderful views out over the Dee estuary, but the terrain here is parkland rather than links.
The original course was created by Jack Morris – nephew of Old Tom – with the most recent changes overseen by Donald Steel in 2007.
The course enjoys a peaceful setting with a number of water hazards to negotiate, and comprises a classic par-72 mix of 10 par 4s, four par 3s and four par 5, with the Stroke Index 1 5th stretching to a monstrous 605 yards into the prevailing wind!