The golfing spotlight returned to the Wirral in 2006 when the Open was staged at Hoylake. But the Wirral peninsula has something for everyone, from the award winning village of Port Sunlight to Tranmere Rovers Football Club. On the edge of the River Dee estuary lies Caldy, one of the Wirral’s least well-known golf clubs.
It a surprise to us that Caldy is not more widely renowned. The club was founded in 1907 and it’s located only a few miles to the south of Royal Liverpool Golf Club. According to the Caldy Golf Club website; “It was Jack Morris, nephew of Old Tom Morris who drew up the course plan in 1906 for nine holes, which were opened in 1907. Twenty-three years later, five times Open Champion, James Braid, presented his plans for an extended eighteen-hole course, which was opened in 1931.”
Wonderful views are on offer from this cliff top layout and if it’s variation that you are looking for, then Caldy will provide it in spades. Add in the vagaries of the ever-present wind and you’re in for a treat. The pick of the holes run parallel to the River Dee, but the inland holes represent an interesting and varied challenge.
In 1981 Caldy was used as a qualifying course when the European Open was hosted at Hoylake. Seve Ballesteros was pushed into second place with Australia’s Graham Marsh emerging as a two-shot winner.
The Caldy Festival of Golf is held here during August and the club opens its doors to all comers. It’s a golfing extravaganza with events for Men, Ladies Juniors and Seniors. There’s even a sponsored corporate day at this popular event. So if you'd like to play in the Caldy Festival, remember to book early.
I come away from Caldy, not really knowing what to say. I really don’t know if I loved the course or I didn’t. That’s because the course is basically two different courses. I guess simply put, it doesn’t know what type of course it is.
First things first let me just point out that Caldy is surrounded by mansions. As you drive to the course you will surely be overwhelmed by the luxury around you. You even get to see Rafa Benitez’s mansion on the hill at one point. As I drove into the car park it was Bentley’s and Porsches all round. My poor mini looked somewhat out of place. On entering in the staff where friendly and welcoming and the practice facilities are pretty good.
Secondly let me also point out that the course was presented quite remarkably. We hadn’t had much rain so the fairways weren’t full of growth but the course was manicured to a very high standard. The greens ran true and fast. I genuinely can’t be critical in that respect.
Now back to my review. The first two holes where a good start. Both elevated greens with the first a gentle par 4 down the hill. I then crossed over a bridge to what I’ll describe as the first course. Holes 3 to 10 are all on this side. The 3rd is a fantastic dog leg with lots of bunkers that leads you down to the coast. The shot into the green looks fantastic from the fairway. If that was good holes 4, 5 and 6 then run along the coast line. Hole 6 requires a long iron into a wonderful green with a deep ridge in front. Holes 7 to 10 feature two par 3s that aren’t quite as good, running alongside but aren’t bad. This side of the course could be called a kind of links course… but not quite.
You then cross back over the bridge. It was here I spoke to a couple of members who pointed out 5 hour rounds were normal at Caldy. I hadn’t noticed how slow it had been. At this point tees 11 and 16 stand near each other. I wish I’d gone straight to 16…. Or potentially just played the 11th back to the clubhouse. For holes 11 to 18 where in truth quite boring. The condition was still fabulous with the manicured fairways, semi rough, rough and jungle clearly defined. I just felt the holes lacked any interest. Two of the holes where just 350 yards and with the hard fairways they were a long iron and wedge in. The 15th for instance was an opportunity for the course to include an exciting shot in with a water feature just a few yards from the green. Yet whilst the feature was present it was full of 6ft reads that gave an impression of high rough. I felt here lay a chance for a nice pond with sleepers that could catch balls rolling off the sloping green.
Then after the 15th came a driver distance hike to the 16th where another meaningless hole only featured a large piece of sandstone.
The 17th at least featured a stream of as it’s known Thor’s Dyke before a finishing par 5 back up to the clubhouse.
So here you have a wonderful front nine with a back nine that features par fours that just go back n forth.
Maybe I’m being harsh! After all I didn’t get thru any of the fourballs in front of me. I waited on every hole. It took 4 hours and 25 minutes as a one ball. So I come away from Caldy unsure. It was good but just not good enough… I loved holes 1 to 7. I thought holes 8-10 were good. I just found myself bored of the rest.
Good variety of holes make this well worth a visit when golfing in the Wirral
Caldy is situated at the end of the Wirral Peninsula, alongside the river Dee, and enjoys some wonderful views whilst playing the series of cliff top holes on the front nine. Looking across the estuary towards Hilbre Islands and the coast of Wales one can really appreciate the fabulous setting.
Meanwhile the inland holes, on the other side of the Wirral Way, offer a more secluded and tree-lined experience yet still benefit from firm-ish turf for the most part, or at least it was in mid-April 2017 when I visited to play the 36-hole Caldy Quart scratch competition. On this section of the course you are sheltered from the wind but the holes are tighter and you must plot your way round a bit more.
There are a number of stand-out holes throughout the round. The first is an inviting opener whilst the par-three second is the first of a particularly good set of short holes with the 17th, played over Thor’s Dyke, the pick of the quartet.
The four par fives at Caldy didn’t really excite me although the 11th and 18th do a decent job of getting golfers back up the hill to the elevated clubhouse which offers a wide view out to the course.
The greens and their surrounds throughout the 18 holes played nice and firm and there are plenty of modest run-offs which can leave some tricky recovery shots.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
A bit pricey but for £10 more u can use it for a whole day... practice facilities, short game area, clubhouse, locker room, and of course... the course. Well worth the money, the course is great for variation and provides views undescribable. Very good service and would recommend for societies.