Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake
Designers: George Morris,
Harry S. Colt, Donald Steel
The windswept links of Hoylake which is home to the Royal Liverpool Golf Club stands as the second oldest in England, with a storied history to match. It was here that the inaugural Amateur Championship was contested, as well as the first international match between the United States and Great Britain – known today as the Walker Cup. Bobby Jones secured the second leg of the Grand Slam at Royal Liverpool in 1930, while Rory McIlroy became the 12th Champion Golfer of the Year crowned here in 2014. It is this rich history which serves as the foundation to an overall experience at Hoylake that is almost unrivaled in the game of golf.
The original links shared ground with the racecourse for the Liverpool Hunt Club. Hoof prints and cart tracks were horrid obstacles on the opening tee shot during that day, replaced in the modern era by paralyzing out of bounds. The decorative found pineapples on posts near the 1st tee are a throwback to prizes awarded to winning jockeys, while the names of the 1st and 18th holes – Course and Stand – pay tribute to this racing heritage.
Once the horses entered retirement, Royal Liverpool began an evolution mostly at the hands of Harry S. Colt. Nearly every hole was retooled in some fashion, with the heart of the course receiving the majority of his attention. The string of holes from 8 through 13 play across the most dramatic section of the property along the Dee Estuary, and much Colt’s outstanding work here remains to this day. As many would say of Royal County Down, Hoylake simply wasn’t Hoylake until Mr. Colt arrived.
The rest of the round takes place on a relatively flat and sandy plain. On a calm day, the opening and closing stretch of holes offer a solid chance to improve our card. Much of the time, however, the winds off the estuary and the harsh revetted bunkers perform an admirable job as Hoylake’s primary defense. As Tiger Woods and his trusty 2-iron displayed in 2006, those winds often make the links as hard and fast as an airport runway. They also have a funny way of making us all too aware of the quirky internal out of bounds on the 1st and 16th holes.
In addition to the rich history and sensational links, what makes an experience at Hoylake so exceptional is the people. The membership at Royal Liverpool are quite possibly the friendliest and most welcoming in all of England. After the round, make time to tour the veritable museum inside the clubhouse, followed by a beverage and stimulating conversation in the members’ lounge. They are quite proud of their club and course, and after a memorable day spent enjoying both, you’ll have no problem understanding why.
Major Basil Haversham, OBE
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