Bolton Old Links Golf Club was established as Bolton Golf Club in 1891 and the original members played on a 9-hole course in Green Lane before moving to Smithills five years later. The club name was changed in 1912 when a number of members left to form another golf club. Once an additional 173 acres of land was acquired, this led to the redesign of the course by Dr Alister MacKenzie and the new course opened for play in 1924.
Laid out in two loops of returning nines with the inward half routed around the outside of holes 1 to 9 and the course follows the contours of an undulating landscape to great effect. “Kicking Donkey”, the par four 12th hole, is set at more than 800 feet above sea level and from this high point on the course there are panoramic views to drink in.
Incidentally, despite its Old Links name, the course – described variously as inland, open country or moorland in nature – has neither the correct geographical location nor landform of a proper links, so first time visitors shouldn’t expect to tee it up here amongst towering sand dunes that have magically appeared 30 miles inland from the nearest point on the coast.
However, expect a real golfing examination, especially when the wind blows as it often does here. The club has hosted numerous professional tournaments over the years and also hosts the annual Northern Order of Merit event, for which the “Old Links Trophy” is contested.
I was in the area for an appointment and so thought I’d revisit Old Links having not been there for 20+ years. I went with no expectations, apart from knowing I’d get wet.
So let me just say, I left quite stunned at just how good it actually was. There wasn’t any of those stunning holes and granted with the hills even the long par 4s weren’t particularly long. However the course had some fun holes. I don’t think I found a second shot off a flat lie and I certainly didn’t play a shot that wasn’t affected by the wind. For this is a hilly course and not one for the unfit.
The condition of the course was quite fabulous although one thing to note is in certain points I found areas where vast amounts of divots had been taken, given the slopes that gather drives up. The greens ran true and reasonably fast considering all the rain that had fallen.
Lastly may I say the views where breathtaking and Manchester could be seen with all its high rise buildings.
All in all I don’t think you’d be dissatisfied playing here. I really was suprised as I feel I’ve played courses I didn’t like, as much, that feature higher in the standings for the area.
Bolton Old Links, thankyou…
Good layout, has a heathland feel in places although parkland. I have played it many times over the years with friends who are members and always enjoyed it. Some challenging long par 4 holes and local knowledge is key on a few holes.
An OK course nothing outstanding but also nothing bad. The green's run fast which is it's main defense when i played it. Worth playing if you are in the area.
Bolton Old Links est un parcours très intéressant et spectaculaire. Les fairways sont larges et les vues sur les collines environnantes sont saisissantes. Un vrai plaisir, aussi bien sur le plan golfique que sur le plan esthétique!
Bolton Old Links is a very interesting and spectacular course. The fairways are wide and the views of the surrounding hills are striking. A real pleasure, both golf wise and on the aesthetic level!
Two of us having enjoyed BOL once as a two ball on the way up to Scotland, our society then played the course as an unofficial event as 8 of us and thoroughly enjoyed both the game of golf and the drinks and hearty good value meal afterwards in the stately yet a little faded club house afterwards. Like most moorland courses in my experience, the golf is highly enjoyable and fair, giving elevation changes with the views and accompanying club selection challenges particularly if it's the first time you are visiting. Great fun, and great value.