Among the many great courses along the Northwest coast, Royal Birkdale stands out as a perfect example of links golf. It is currently the number one course in England and ranked third in Great Britain & Ireland.
The Club was formed in 1889, starting life as a nine hole course. In 1897 the decision was taken to move to Birkdale Hills where an 18 hole course was constructed. The layout was changed considerably in the mid 1930’s transforming the course into a championship venue. In 1991 a decision was taken to redesign and relay all the greens. Further changes were made to the course in 2005/2006, in preparation for the 2008 Open. This considerable investment and on-going improvement has enabled the club to retain its position as one of the finest links courses in the world.
Even in the early days, the Birkdale Club was forward-thinking, with the members voting in favour of allowing ladies to use the links from 1889. Indeed, one of the first tournaments held was the 1909 Ladies’ British Open Match Play Championship. The growing stature of the Club was acknowledged in 1951 when the King gave his permission for the Club to be known as The Royal Birkdale Golf Club. The course has been the stage for many great golf championships including the Walker Cup, the Curtis Cup, the Amateur Championship and the Ryder Cup. The Club also hosted the British Seniors Open for the first time in 2013 and in 2014 hosted the Ricoh Women’ British Open for the sixth time.
Visitors to the course can walk in the footsteps of many of golf’s legends, among them Open Winners, Peter Thomson, a double winner at Royal Birkdale, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson. On the 16th hole, a plaque commemorates Arnold Palmer’s great shot in appalling weather conditions, on the way to his Open win in 1961.The last time The Open was held here was in 2017 when Jordan Spieth took the title.
The links measure 6,690 yards and although the distance itself is a test even for the most accomplished golfer, the wind, whistling down the fairways when it comes from the sea, adds to the challenge. Each hole runs through a landscape of high dunes, the fairways are flat and fair and from the tee there is generally a clear view of the task ahead. Each hole is memorable, from The Open Championship tees the 6th and 13th holes both measure 498 yards and are two of the longest par 4s in championship golf.
The clubhouse was built in the 1930’s in a distinctive art-deco style and stands overlooking the 18th green. The enormous bay window in the lounge gives a spectacular view over the course and it is the only place to be on the last afternoon of The Open.