Royal Birkdale - Lancashire - England

Ten-time Open Championship venue, Royal Birkdale was the last English course to be added to the Open rotation. Turnberry is the most junior Open Championship venue.

Date Winner Country
1954 Peter Thomson Australia
1961 Arnold Palmer USA
1965 Peter Thomson Australia
1971 Lee Trevino USA
1976 Johnny Miller USA
1983 Tom Watson USA
1991 Ian Baker-Finch Australia
1998 Mark O'Meara USA
2008 P.Harrington Ireland
2017 Jordan Spieth USA

The Birkdale (as Royal Birkdale Golf Club was originally called) was a nine-hole golf course located at Shaw Hills and it opened for play in October 1889. In 1894, the committee decided to extend the course to 18 holes and move it to its current home at Birkdale Hills. Designed by George Lowe, the course was ready in 1897. In the 1930s, the course was remodelled and upgraded to championship standard by F.G. Hawtree and J.H. Taylor.

In his book, Golf Between Two Wars, Bernard Darwin writes: “J.H. Taylor was the architect and he has unquestionably made of Birkdale a ‘big’ course on which it is good fun to see the big men stretch themselves… no bad player is going to win over Birkdale, and yet it is no slogger’s paradise, for in the English Championship the final was fought between Arnold Bentley and W Sutton, who are neither of them particularly long drivers.”

The club was simply known as Birkdale until 1951 when King George VI bestowed the royal charter on the club. Royal Birkdale Golf Club has hosted all the important events—the Ryder Cup, Walker Cup, Curtis Cup, Ladies British Open Championship. The British Open Championship has been hosted at Birkdale no fewer than nine times (most recently in 2008).

Royal Birkdale Golf Club played host to the 1965 and 1969 Ryder Cup matches between the USA and Great Britain. Team Captains in 1965 were Byron Nelson (US) and Harry Weetman (GB). Despite injury problems the Americans outplayed the British at their own links game, using low punch shots into the ever-present wind. The face of the Ryder Cup changed forever after Birkdale member Brian Park donated £11,000 for the erection of a tented village, a trade exhibition and the carrying of the now all-familiar banners showing individual match scores. USA 19 ½ - GB 12 ½. The Ryder Cup was played at East Lake in 1963 and at Champions in 1967.

Team Captains in 1969 were Sam Snead (US) and Eric Brown (GB). This was the closest contest in Ryder Cup history with 17 of the 32 matches being decided on the last hole. With the 18th Ryder Cup tied, focus was on the last match as Jack Nicklaus stunned the world of golf by conceding a tricky two-footer to Tony Jacklin. It resulted in the first tie in Ryder Cup history and the act is known simply as “The Concession” and is widely considered golf’s greatest single sporting gesture. USA 16 - GB 16. The Ryder Cup was played at Old Warson in 1971.

It truly is a famous links and widely recognised for its fairness. If you hit the fairways, rarely will the ball be thrown off course. The fairways are laid out in the flat-bottomed valleys between the towering dunes. These dunes, in turn, provide superb viewing platforms for spectators. Invariably in immaculate condition, Royal Birkdale is a very tough cookie to master. The greens were re-built prior to the 1998 Open and despite their youth, are extremely difficult to read.

Birkdale has a superfluity of great golf holes. F.W. Hawtree created a new 12th hole in the 1960s, this 183-yard par three is a wonderful one-shotter and as natural as you can get. From a raised tee, the ball must carry across a hollow, whilst avoiding four deep pot bunkers before coming to rest on a narrow, raised green that is nestled at the feet of tussocky sand dunes. The par five 15th is Birkdale’s longest hole and one of the most heavily bunkered on the course; knock it straight down the middle off the tee and then using a long iron or a fairway wood, avoid the bunkers spread-eagled across the fairway; chip it on and, bingo, an easy five! The monstrous 18th has seen drama over the years, a heavily bunkered par four measuring 476 yards. Only our best two shots in the bag will see us putting for a birdie.

Royal Birkdale can be a torrid experience when the wind is up, with white horses kicking and rearing their heads in the Irish Sea, crashing like kamikazes onto the beach. In these conditions, many of the carries from tees to fairways into the prevailing wind can be too much for the average golfer. But whatever the weather, Royal Birkdale is a provocative place to play golf.

Did you know that Royal Birkdale is the favourite English course on the British Open rota according to the results of a 2006 Top 100 poll whereby we asked: "Four Royal English courses are currently British Open venues. If you've played them all, which do you think is best?" 42.9% voted for Birkdale with St George’s coming 2nd with 28.6%. In 3rd place was Lytham & St Annes with 19% but Liverpool could only manage 9.5% of the vote.

Spieth "flips switch" to win by three - 2017 Open Championship Royal Birkdale

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Reviews for Royal Birkdale

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Description: Royal Birkdale Golf Club is the favourite English course on the British Open rota according to the results of a Top 100 poll... Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Reviews: 72
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Max Monroe
Beautiful, Difficult, Fair golf course. Huge sand dunes line the holes and define the shots, when the wind comes up it makes you grind and think your way around, the par threes are among the best on any course, just a stern test. Club house - nice inside, friendly staff, golf shop well stocked, a real treat to play here with all of it's glorious history. Very expensive to play not worth the tariff. If you can afford it play it if not play West Lancs they are similar enough.
January 04, 2009
10 / 10
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Jim McCann
January 05, 2009
Excuse me... Birkdale and West Lancs SIMILAR ENOUGH??? I don't think so, and not by a country mile!!! West Lancs is a very good course, sensibly priced for the visitor and well worth playing but any similarity to Birkdale is confined to its geographical location - in no way could the experience of playing at Birkdale come close to that of its coastal neighbour, sorry. Birkdale IS very expensive but then courses at the very top end usually are - the tariff IS steep, I agree, however, what price to be able to play such a magestic course with such a golfing pedigree? Thank God we can still pay to play 99% of all top venues in GB&I, unlike other countries I could name.
martin
Played the course on a sunny and windy day (2-3 clubs worth). great experience, great course, great clubhouse and not many out on the course. didn't feel like an outsider like you can feel like with many other courses. highly recommended, start saving now.
October 22, 2008
8 / 10
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michael ball
As it says it is a brute & i sure did find that out. A very bitter North West wind blew & but is stayed dry. The way the greens were set into the dunes is what really made this course the outstanding. I played awful lost 6 balls but for some reason we as golfers loved to be punished & somehow still get enjoyment out of it. Best course i have played by far but would love to play it on a calm day. The greens were a bit furry but with how the wind blew that was for the best.
October 19, 2008
10 / 10
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Phil Bonsall
Very tough, not my idea of fun. I am a good player, and unfortunately not a big fan of links golf. I preferred the local courses of Formby and Hillside which I found challenging but also offered a good chance of a decent score. If the wind blows at Birkdale it really is difficult as we saw at the Open. Great clubhouse, and friendly staff.
September 25, 2008
6 / 10
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Mondeo
Played the course this morning as a members guest and it was trully brilliant. Quite simply the best i've played and it really has recovered well from the open stands and crowds.
September 24, 2008
10 / 10
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Carl
Superb course and very pretty but not the toughest on the rota, played to handicap (10) despite five three putts but there was no wind. Looking forward to the open.
March 19, 2008
8 / 10
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pingfan
Although lots has been said about the course, a special mention to the Pro and bar staff and the clubhouse. All of which i felt really added to the day and made it all the more special!!!Regarding the course, it is simply the best I have played!!
February 06, 2008
10 / 10
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paul turner
If you like your links golf to be "fair" then Birkdale is probably your cup of tea. For me though I think it's on the boring side when compared to the truly great links of the Isles; highly overrated in the rankings. and bolstered by the Open and pros who like their golf to be "fair". Take a close look at the architecture. Nearly all the holes are routed on flat land between the dunes and so there's a lack of variety. And unless you're wild off the tee, the dunes don't affect play as much as on links like Sandwich and Ballybunion. Is there a less inspired hole than the 13th on the Open rota? Additionally, the green contours aren't all that exciting and don't compare in interest to the real great links such as: Portrush, St Andrews, Dornoch, Rye.... Gimme Sandwich any day! England's true #1.
August 27, 2007
6 / 10
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Fred
December 02, 2007
Quite agree. Played the course this weekend and thought although it was a consistent test with some strong bunkering, it just doesn't have the muscle and majesty of the great links like St Georges, which I played earlier in the year and thought was a far superior course.
faisal
Played it recently on a cold windy day and my o my, really found out what a links style course can do to you. Found it much like Royal St. Georges (the only other Open rota courses I've played) and the difference between a very ordinary round and an extremely difficult one can be made by the wind. The bunkers are no joke but the main difficulty is judging the way and distance around the mounds. The par 3s were very ordinary but the par 4s are where the hard work has to be done.
July 16, 2007
10 / 10
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papa rabbi
This is simply the very best course in the GB and UK. No question
May 03, 2007
10 / 10
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