Lytham Hall Park,
Lytham St Annes,
- +44 (0)1253 736741
2 miles from Lytham and St Annes town centres
Welcome with restrictions, contact in advance
J. A. (Jack) Steer, James Braid
Fairhaven Golf Club is situated a mile or two away from Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club. It’s less heroic than Lytham, but nevertheless, the golf is still very good indeed.
“The new course of the Fairhaven Club, an inland course in a pretty park with something attractively secret about it.” Wrote Bernard Darwin in The Golf Courses of Great Britain. “We walk through a wood and suddenly and surprisingly find ourselves in a big tract of country, very peaceful and remote, which gives the impression of being a hidden valley. The soil is good too, and the holes interesting.”
Fairhaven was originally founded in 1895 and the course was sited on what is now Fairhaven Boating Lake. The club moved to its present site in the early 1920s and James Albert (Jack) Steer, the professional at Blackpool South Shore club from 1908 until its closure in 1940, designed the new course with advice and guidance from the great James Braid.
In a Muirfield style, each nine at Fairhaven is routed in two loops and this classical design ensures that the wind causes all kind of problems. Measuring more than 7,000 yards from the back tees, Fairhaven is certainly not a short course but the par 73 includes five par fives, two of which appear in the last four holes. Its length is therefore not its greatest challenge. Staying above ground and out of Braid’s many distinctive bunkers is the main issue.
If you can master Fairhaven’s renowned fast and slick greens, then you may be in for a good score. The course formerly hosted Open Qualifying when the Open Championship was held at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Justin Leonard – one of the world’s best putters – posted a course record 64 in Final Qualifying for the 1996 Open and was granted honorary membership as a direct consequence.
There are so many fine courses on Lancashire’s “Golf Coast” and Fairhaven might not be a natural choice for those seeking out the big names. But you really will be missing something, something really special if you overlook Fairhaven. It’s a delightful course and one of the area’s real gems.
Having had the chance to play Fairhaven half a dozen times in the last few years means I've seen it differently, from bone dry and running forever to the latest time, after an unseasonably wet period. Still, the course enthrals.
The recent excellent club house refurb has brought the locker rooms into the modern era, alongside the downstairs spike bar. Upstairs, things are more traditional offering great views of the course.
Fans of James Braid designs will love Fairhaven. The bunkering especially tests ones metal. Reachable fairway bunkers are (mostly) exceedingly penal. You can get out, but the high lips mean advancing the ball any distance is a real challenge. Greenside bunkers gather anything wayward, testing your short game if you are going to get par.
The course loses 1/2 a point for me with the 13th and 14th holes, later additions to the course and on very different soil bases. These two (albeit good) parkland holes just don't sit well against the other 16 sand based links holes, sticking out like sore thumbs.
Once those two are out of the way though, what a finish? Index 1, a tight par 5 followed by index 3 and (unreachable) par 4, both with OB all the way down the right hand side. The 17th is a delightful short par 3 surrounded by small but deep bunkers, and the par 5 finish with a slight dogleg left and a fairway 10 yards across at its narrowest, just in driving distance for the longer hitters.
The greens weren't as quick as they sometimes are on this visit, but subtle borrows ensure you need to be able to read them well. I am led to believe a change of head greenkeeper is imminent, so it will be interesting to see what a new set of eyes, and a new bunch of ideas can be brought to bear on an already very good course.
Our group played Fairhaven in the morning as we could only get on Royal Lytham at 14h00 and we needed a nearby course for those of us who also wanted a game in the morning. Not knowing the course or anyone who had played it, I am forever grateful to Top100 for helping us find it.
Fairhaven is a true heathland experience which I personally would rate a bit higher (in that category) as it requires all shots in the bag to hit its small(ish) greens. In fact, because of the surrounding trees the course feels a lot tighter than it actually plays.
Fairhaven is a fun course that’s often overshadowed by its more famous neighbors on England’s golf coast. But the neighbors are famous for a reason. The dogleg right 12th is a perfect example of strategy gone awry. The greenside bunker is on the right, meaning the best angle is from the left. So there’s less of an advantage taking on the fairway bunker to shorten the hole.
Whilst in the area it would be tempting to do nothing but play the seaside classics, but that would mean missing out on a great layout in Fairhaven.
Excellent conditioning, a very inland links feel with some punitive rough thrown in, and nice variety of holes and challenges.
Friendly club house with lovely terrace to watch others coming home, potentially like me marshalling suddenly scarce golf ball reserves.
Recommended, and if you find 2 pairs of golf shoes on top of a locker left by sun-dappled golfers who were running late to get home please drop me a line !
Returning to Fairhaven 10 years after my previous visit was a very pleasant surprise. I had remembered the course being flat, tree lined and heavily bunkered but not much else to be honest. All of those things are true but there is so much more going on in terms of good presentation, excellent greens and interesting design, not to mention the stiff challenge provided to all standards of golfer. Fairhaven is certainly unusual. How many other courses can you think of that play over perfect links turf (except for two holes) with magnificent revetted links-style bunkering and yet have some tree lined fairways and some of the biggest rhododendron bushes you will ever see? I can't think of any. There are a few heathland layouts that come close but nothing quite like this.
Will there be some links purists who would like to see a much more open aspect to the course? Will there be agronomists queuing up to advise the removal of all vegetation? Absolutely on both counts, but if the course management can continue to maintain such high standards, I for one would leave it just the way it is. Brian W
I played the Fairhaven course at the weekend and really enjoyed the experience, despite having to contend with the all too familiar winter course restrictions of GUR in many of the bunkers and tee positions located in fairways, in front of tee boxes.
Holes are routed in two returning nines and, with only two of the nine par fours playing longer than 390 yards, it’s not too taxing from the regular gents tees.
There’s been some subtle mounding work carried out around the course to create movement on a site that’s generally pretty flat and this, combined with some flash-faced bunkering (at the wonderful par three 17th in particular), adds more than a degree or two of interest.
I liked the two ‘alien’ holes at 13 and 14, thinking they were not that out of kilter with the others and I also rated the par four 16th (at 471 yards) as it’s a real killer hole when slotted in so late in the round.
Fairhaven’s a solid test that deserves respect as any good score will be hard earned here.