Golf has been played in Fleetwood since 1861 – three years before the formation of the oldest course in England (Royal North Devon) at Westward Ho! – when soldiers from the nearby barracks were recorded as playing “on the dunes by the North Euston hotel”.
Two sites for golf were used in the town before operations began at the current location in 1932 on a course designed by local professional Jack Steer, who had been attached to the Blackpool South Shore club since 1908.
The course is a traditional seaside links, with subtle undulations and punishing rough rewarding accuracy off the tee. The terrain is largely flat and entirely unprotected on the northwest corner of the Fylde so golfers can struggle here if the wind gets up.
Today, the course extends to 6,521 yards from the back markers, playing to a par of 72, with an outward half of 34 playing 600 yards shorter than the inward half of 38. The front nine holes are routed around the perimeter of the property, with the back nine set out inside.
Notable holes include the stretch that’s laid out closest to the shoreline, from the par three 3rd to the par four 7th; the shortest of the par threes at the 144-yard 11th; and the 428-yard 16th, which is rated as one of the most difficult on the scorecard.
Often going under the radar this links course on the North West England coast is definitely worth playing. Over the years I have played more than a dozen times and recently visited again to catch up with an old work colleague who had joined the club this year. The layout in the wind is testing, the rough is fair, arguably fairer than usual championship courses, and the condition was fabulous for early autumn. Green fees here are a fraction of the cost for more high profile Fylde coast courses and one to play if visiting the NW on a trip.
I like nice surprises. And that's exactly what I got when I played Fleetwood Golf Club. With so many notable courses, including no less than three Open Championship venues, lying relatively close to the south of Fleetwood it's a course that often goes under the radar.
Tucked away in the North-West corner of Fylde the type of links golf here is of the traditional, straight-forward type. There are hardly any blind tee-shots and very little quirkiness. What you see is what you get at Fleetwood. Good shots are generally rewarded well whilst errant drives are likely to find the tangly rough, that lines the generous fairways, and stray approaches could easily find deep bunkers.
The club lays claim to be the home of the first links course in England with records dating back to 1861 positively stating that golf was played by Army officers on the links at Fleetwood
There are similarities to nearby St. Annes Old Links in that the terrain is relatively flat. However, at Fleetwood there are a few more changes in elevation and they are used exceptionally well to give a much more undulating feel to the round. The type of greenside bunkering is also very similar but here you will find many more fairway hazards which must be avoided at all costs if you are to score well and which really tightens the course up.
As with all links courses the ferocity and direction of the wind will dictate play (and scoring). On my visit there was a cross wind on virtual all the holes. This didn't really help on any hole, neither did it hinder, but it made accessing the flags particularly difficult and therefore birdies were hard to come by.
Despite being left somewhat in the shadows by other links courses in Lancashire, there's no doubt this true links should be considered for a visit if planning a trip to England's North-West coast.
A follow up visit, when the course was playing much softer, gave the the links a much different appearance to the one I first sampled in the height of summer. It played much the better when the course was firm and fast.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.