Royal Liverpool - Cheshire - England

Royal Liverpool Golf Club,
Meols Drive,
Hoylake,
Wirral,
Merseyside,
CH47 4AL,
England


  • +44 (0) 151 632 3101

  • Golf Club Website

  • 10 miles SW of Liverpool on Wirral Peninsula

  • Welcome except Thu am or weekends - contact in advance

  • Simon Newland

  • George Morris, Robert Chambers, Harry Colt

  • John Heggarty


Royal Liverpool was the second English course to host the Open Championship and is the fifth most used Open venue after St Andrews, Prestwick, Muirfield and Royal St George’s.

Date Winner Country
1897 Harold Hilton England
1902 Sandy Herd Scotland
1907 Arnaud Massy France
1913 John H.Taylor England
1924 Walter Hagen USA
1930 Bobby Jones USA
1936 Alf Padgham England
1947 Fred Daly N Ireland
1956 Peter Thomson Australia
1967 R. De Vicenzo Argentina
2006 Tiger Woods USA
2014 Rory McIlroy N Ireland


The Open Championship returned to Royal Liverpool Golf Club in 2006 after a 39-year gap. Hoylake, as it is called by those in the know, has a long and illustrious history of playing host to the Open, and has now staged twelve, its first in 1897. Founded in 1869, Hoylake is the second oldest seaside links course in England – only Royal North Devon is the more senior.

George Morris, brother of Old Tom, and Robert Chambers originally laid out a 9-hole course on the site of a racecourse and for the first seven years, golfers shared the land with members of the Liverpool Hunt Club. Three extra holes were soon added and in 1871, the course was extended to 18 holes. In 1872, the club received royal patronage from Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught.

Bernard Darwin reported on the coming of the Haskell, which burst onto the scene at the Amateur Championship at Hoylake in 1902. The winner Charles Hutchings and the runner-up, Sidney Fry, used the rubber-core ball. Later that same year, Sandy Herd used a Haskell and won the Open at Royal Liverpool, sounding the death knell for the “gutty” ball.

Harry Colt made alterations to the 11th and 17th holes, named Alps and Royal. He also created a new 13th hole and changed the greens at the 8th and 12th holes.

In his book, Golf Between Two Wars, Bernard Darwin describes Colt’s changes and the alteration to the 16th, called the Dun: “I do not criticise the disappearance of the old cross-bunker at the Dun because that had been made inevitable by the modern ball and modern driving. It was sad to see it go if only because the soberest might fall into it after dinner – I have seen them do it – in finding their way home across the darkling links; but it had to go and the present Dun is a fine long hole. Trying not to be Blimpish and die-hard and to look at the course with eyes unblurred by sentiment, I solemnly and sincerely declare that Mr Colt made a great job of it”.

Donald Steel was commissioned to make alterations to the course; these changes included a number of new greens, tees and bunkers. The work was completed in 2001 stretching the course out in excess of 7,000 yards. We wonder if Darwin would approve of Steel’s alterations?

The land is unusually flat, offering little in the way of definition – three sides of the course are bordered by houses and the Dee Estuary lies on the western side. When you get out onto the course, the undulations become more pronounced and, as you move away from the houses, the overall experience improves. The holes alongside the shore (9th, 10th, 11th and 12th) are the most visually appealing and very challenging.

Without doubt, Royal Liverpool is a tough links. Only six holes are in the dunes – otherwise there is little protection from the ever-changing wind. There is nothing artificial about the course. It represents a traditional, genuine test of golf and it was heart-warming to see that Hoylake examined the very best players in 2006. They came, they saw and Tiger conquered.

During the winter of 2009/10, Martin Hawtree carried out alterations which included a new 17th green, removal of fourteen bunkers, seven new swales added to green surrounds, and broken ground was added to the rough on six holes to toughen the challenge. The course measured 90 yards longer (7,312 yards) for the 2014 Open Championship when Rory McIlroy claimed his first Open and third major title with a two-shot victory over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler.

At the start of 2020, having consulted with both the R&A and architect Martin Ebert, the club announced a series of course alterations to be made in advance of The Open returning to Hoylake in 2022.

These modifications included raising the front of the 4th green to allow more pin positions, moving the 7th green to the left of its current position and introducing new tees on the 8th, remodelling the 13th green with new runoff areas, creating a short par three 17th hole (with the new green positioned where the 15th tees were located), and lengthening the par five 18th.

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Reviews for Royal Liverpool

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Description: Without doubt, Royal Liverpool Golf Club is a tough links. Only six holes are in the dunes – otherwise there is little protection from the ever-changing Hoylake wind. Rating: 7.7 out of 10 Reviews: 73
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Neil White

When I began my top 100 odyssey, it certainly wasn’t my plan to include an assessment of the health benefits of playing golf for a newly diagnosed cancer patient.

However, Mrs W's world has recently been turned upside down and, as pre-chemo mental therapy, we nipped off for a few days to England’s golf coast.

It helped enormously that our host was a member of Royal Liverpool, aka Hoylake, and a great guy as well as an avid golf historian.

With huge enthusiasm, he told us of Hoylake’s rich past over lunch in the spike bar, surrounded by mementoes of triumphs over more than 150 glorious years.

We were introduced to the current captain and the club secretary who is busy preparing for the Open Championship to return to these famous links next year.

Mrs W and I always have a slight worry about playing at such illustrious clubs because we fear they may be stuffy. I am delighted to report that Royal Liverpool may have a grand title but its welcome was second to none.

I hasten to add that this was not exaggerated because of Mrs W’s diagnosis. Nobody knew about it other than our host who beautifully left it to one side, meaning that we could forget a subject that had been dominating our waking and even sometimes sleeping hours.

Once out on the windy Wirral coast, it was clear headspace needed to be reserved for attempting to conquer one of the toughest tracks in Britain.

Hoylake doesn’t have the dramatic dunes of near-neighbour Birkdale or the elevation of Hillside or Wallasey but, in my opinion, compares with Royal Lytham St. Anne’s in appearance and holes which initially seem conquerable but have surprising bite.

And the back nine, overlooking the River Dee and on a clear day with views out to Snowdonia, is bound to conjure some classic moments in July 2023.

There is perpetual evolution here – exemplified by Little Eye - the 15th, created only two years ago.

This is a fabulous short par-three over sandscape with a plateaued green and cavernous bunker to the left.

I can testify that it looks like a cinch but is perilous against the wind. The professionals will be more adept out of the aforementioned sand trap but safe to say I did not score.

The introduction to Royal Liverpool was gentler than expected. I didn’t stray much off the tee and, while I was struggling to hold my approaches on its greens, I was lulled into thinking I was on the way to winning my battle with the course.

I even managed a par-four on the fifth, the stroke index one which demands tee shot placement down the right and a second shot past a bunker on the left.

The alarm bells began ringing on the par-five eighth which was even too much for Bobby Jones who recorded a seven on his way to his 1930s Grand Slam (the scorecard is displayed in the clubhouse).

From the tee, it seems that the best line is down the right. That is an optical illusion. Woe is heightened by attempting to play the ball straight over the small dunes which cross the fairway.

Clearly, left and left again would have been the successful route. Oh, and this is stroke index 17.

As we trooped off (Mrs W. had lost two balls on the 7th), our compadre ominously remarked: “That was the easy bit.”

Certainly, the holes from this point have more dramatic views with wide beach in the foreground and Welsh hills as the backdrop.

The par-three 11th has an Irish links feel with bunkers and dunes awaiting those who don’t select the right club and account for the wind.

The 12th is a super par-four with a green perched above a dogleg-left fairway. Typically of Hoylake, it will reward those who hit straight but the punishment for those who are even slightly offline is cloying rough.

I was a fan of the long 16th (the last hole of the Open because it begins with the 17th and 18th) where the driving range encroaches from the right almost begging balls to be hit out of bounds. With the hoolie behind us, I was through the green in three but came back to claim my par.

Once again, I was lulled into complacency but my hopes of a stirring finale were thwarted on the 18th when my tee shot rolled and rolled… into the fairway bunker and I had to chip out sideways.

Hoylake was a joy. We had followed the steps of the giants of our beloved game but, for us, it was much more important that we had seen how golf might see us through difficult days ahead.

It brings us camaraderie, history and sport with cut and thrust and highs and lows.

A true tonic.

July 07, 2022
8 / 10
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Simon

Been lucky to play a few times and gets better each time. Looking forward to playing again and putting what I’ve learned so far to good use. Some fantastic holes through the middle of the round, top and tailed with quality challenges.

The new tees and 15th hole have really improved the course as well as adding some really tough looking Championship tees.

Love the greens, the turf, and the views by the beach. Really like the clubhouse and outside area as well…hard to leave!

June 29, 2022
9 / 10
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Mark Lawrence

Played Hoylake in early May. The reviews on this site get it pretty right. A very flat, uninteresting piece of land that contains a lot of very good golf holes. Remarkable in a way that terrain that adds almost nothing can still offer up an excellent golf course. In the end though it's not particularly memorable so that now a few weeks later I only recall some holes. The new par 3 17th has a massive drop off behind so don't be long. Apparently the hole has caused some disagreement but at least I remember it. Glad I made the trip to play it but I won't be back.

June 04, 2022
6 / 10
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Paul Crane

I recently played Royal Liverpool using the Open configuration (starting on 17) in April in a 3-4 club wind. The terrain may be mostly flat and as others have said, it’s not the most beautiful of courses, but the challenge is not punished by this.

Well positioned bunkering, firm fairways and greens all force you to think about every shot & in any form of wind can make just making the green a challenging task. Lots of tightly cut run offs allow you to putt from off the green making some incredibly tough chips slightly more manageable.

The one area I was slightly disappointed in was the lack of a short game area to practice chipping before my round, but in the background a brand new complex was being built ready for the 2023 Open which will greatly improve the facilities.

Overall Royal Liverpool is a very good course and one I’d play again. A fair links course where you can see the courses contours and have to use them to your advantage if you want to get around resembling good golf.

April 21, 2022
7 / 10
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Phil Reid

I feel compelled to add my thoughts as it seems Royal Liverpool gets a bit of a hard time and, in my opinion, Hoylake is a fantastic golf course. The bunkering asks you questions from every tee, reminiscent of Royal Troon, and the green complexes challenge you on every approach. Whilst there are other visually more appealing golf courses, I find the exposure almost refreshing as it allows the wind to test you on almost every hole. Royal Liverpool feels to me like golf was originally intended and, on that basis, is both a test and a pleasure you must seek out. I cannot wait to see how the very best deal with this unique examination in July 2023.

April 17, 2022
8 / 10
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Gary Ross

Yes this is an open track, yes it is well maintained , yes it is a links and yes it is challenging but it is flat and there are some very average holes. I would rate the greens and maintenance as 4-5 but for an open venue with green fees to match it is a disappointment. The holes away from the clubhouse are more interesting than the remainder but all the holes in front of the clubhouse (which change in order for the open) are flat / dull (masked at the open by the galleries). This is a club steeped in tradition and I appreciate that further work to these holes has occurred but it simply cannot keep pace with other open venues. Worth playing for sentimental value though.

January 07, 2022
4 / 10
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Barry Jones

I had the privilege to play RLGC twice on consecutive days, have visited once before for the 2014 Open. The course looks very different without the tournament apparatus and as said by many, strikes you as a pretty flat open expanse. It is clear that there are better courses that don't host the open because of space and infrastructure - Porthcawl being an example. I think the bad reviews of Hoylake are because people have very high expectations that aren't meet. It is an outstanding golf course with great design and some holes worthy of major golf tournaments. The course is well bunkered and fairway bunkers are deep and typically cost a shot, plotting your way around the course avoiding them is key but hard because they are well placed particularly on the dog leg holes. I shot 7 shots better in worse conditions in the second round purely through understanding the layout and picking better shots. As well as the strategic bunkering the green complexes whilst not dramatic are very good and even on the flat parts of the property holes like the 2nd are raised like Pinehurst No.2 with gentle run offs that make errant approaches difficult up and downs. The condition of the course is excellent and they continue to invest, with new holes like the par 3 15th being a great example. It is an excellent addition - if slightly out of character with the other holes. It is very reminiscent of the 11th on the Old at St Andrews - famed as the shortest par 5 in Scotland. The 15th at Hoylake is shorter but still carries the threat of being a 5 shotter! 134yds to an elevated infinite green overlooking the Dee estuary you are fine as long as you are not short, long, left or right - One of the best short holes I have ever played. The other standout holes come in a Stretch from the 8th through to the 12th which are the holes that use the dunes and form a perfect Amen corner. They start with a Par 5 with a tough drive and demanding approach to an elevated green, then to an excellent short Par 4 from an elevated tee to a punchbowl green nestled in the dunes. The 10th and 12th are copybook dogleg lefts with the prevailing wind pushing the ball right towards perfectly placed bunkers which if avoided still leave tricky shots in a cross wind to elevated greens. But whilst the 15th divides opinion the Par 3 11th is a gem, a hip of a dune guarding a redan-like green with a pot bunker protecting the bailout left. The final thing to say is that the course conditioning was excellent and the experience around the course was great - Free range balls, a stunning clubhouse, good food.

I can see why reviews of Royal Liverpool are divided, there are better courses but this is a fine golf course that gets better the more you experience it.

November 03, 2021
7 / 10
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Mark

Absolute pure class. A real day to remember, we starter our adventure by walking to the course pushing our trolleys and clubs along the sea front as we were staying only 10mins down the road. This proved most amusing for the locals. On arrival at the club house its a slick and very warm welcome, we were given a brief of the club house and its history and the facilities then we were checked in and given instructions for our round. For a visitor you feel really special and its a really nice touch. Great to have the range just across the first fairway and putting green just in front of the club house too. The starter gave us some final tips and we headed out and what a round it was. All three of us had been apprehensive of what we might score having looked at the slope rating and done the usual fly over research of the course. All of us played out of our skins and shot some of the best scores of the year which meant we all walked off feeling amazing. In the club house we celebrated and stayed for dinner which was also wonderful. the usual discussions ensued, best hole (everybody agreed the new par 3 16th) comparison of the other courses we had played already in area and we all agreed this was up there. The condition was amazing, greens were receptive but not too quick. This is an absolute must for anyone playing golf in northwest England, just a great venue and course.

October 28, 2021
8 / 10
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T P Dean

As a club, Royal Liverpool has to be one of the finest. The Hoylake membership is one of the friendliest and most welcoming I’ve encountered. There’s clearly a pride that their members and staff exhibit about their club and this revered links’ history and place in the game. There’s a real sense of warmth to the atmosphere at Hoylake. And whilst Top100’s rating criteria is to base one’s judgement only on the course, it would be remiss of me not to mention these elements of the club that help make it stand apart from others.

The course itself is one that’s admittedly difficult to love, particularly at first sight, but it’s one that you must instantly respect. The course is classic in style. The ground is largely flat and it’s very subtle in its design. There are no gimmicks (if we ignore the new 15th) and the lack of dunes protecting the course means it’s completely exposed to the wind. The rough is also long and wispy so a genuine championship test is served to those who play here on a day when the wind is gusting. Fortunately, Hoylake is not an out-and-back course. Instead, the routing constantly changes meaning that it is not a constant slog into the wind. At Hoylake, you have to adapt your game with each change in direction and many of the holes actually play across the prevailing wind rather than with or into it. Also, as you’d expect from all Open venues, the condition is impeccable, and the crafty little slopes, bunkers and run offs, whilst understated, are all well located.

Each hole has its merits and there are no poor holes as such, rather each hole providing a steady examination. The most memorable segment of the course comes between holes 8 and 12 which encroach upon the low dunes that line the perimeter of the course next to the beach. Due to the land movement around these holes, they are more distinctive with some raised greens, semi-blind shots and doglegs around the dunescape providing the features. The new 15th will naturally be the talking point after the round. Whilst the dramatic nature of the hole with its large waste bunkering and tight slopes and elevation change is out of character with the rest of the course, I consider it to be a strong hole and will now be considered the course’s signature, albeit the group of members whom we spoke with post-round remain to be convinced.

Overall, I can understand how many people can be underwhelmed having paid over £200 for a green fee for an Open Championship course, but Open venues are chosen for many more reasons than their beauty alone. It may lack the wow-factor of other courses on the Open rota but Royal Liverpool is still graced with a very good course and moreover, this is a fine club and I’d highly recommend any visit should allow for spending some quality time in and around the clubhouse to soak in the atmosphere.

June 04, 2021
7 / 10
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Phil Ree

There are certain golf clubs that resonate with you. Often it’s an intangible, the grounds have an aura or feeling that leave you content and fulfilled even if the weather was awful or you played like a wally.

Visiting Hoylake was ticking a box for me. I’ve said it’s too easy for The Open, it’s only there because of the space, even the night before playing I was saying it was the championship’s ugly duckling. And like that tale, the swan (or liver bird) rose up and shone – despite some of the worst conditions I’ve experienced.

So to try describe that intangible, we were totally taken aback by the bold, angular mowing lines and sprawling links land that few courses can offer. It has a grandeur and subtlety that it is a bit like Carnoustie, although I will admit mildly inferior. Given the lack of dunes near the clubhouse, you are extra exposed to the wind, then are rewarded with the more seaside holes around the turn. The 8th is a sweeping and swooping par 5 that plays to a raised green, and though these more hilly holes might be considered better, for me it’s just that the lower-land holes ask different questions.

Hoylake has a stellar set of par 3s, improved by our new 15th and 17th for the pros. This will be a lot of fun to watch as the yardage should require a wedge, but it is into the prevailing wind. There are cavernous bunkers either side (pictured), although I do wish there was less of the sand-blasted, waste area look about the hole. It doesn’t quite fit. Nevertheless, this improvement will push RL nearer or into the world top 100.

I’d also like our 1st to be the same as the pros, as our finish is a slight anti-climax after that par 3 and the par 5 16th – hug the OB for a better route into the green, or you are approaching over pot bunkers. It would be a grander finale to a grand course, but we’re all playing the same holes so it doesn’t really matter.

Once finished, the staff are attentive and friendly, so much so that I think they took pity on our drowned rat complexions and gave us a tour of some members’ areas. This was the icing on the cake of one of my best mornings of golf. I am now a Hoylake convertee so would rank it as a highly as Lytham and Birkdale, and will return when the weather’s hopefully better. Royal Liverpool is a lot more than merely ticking a box.

May 28, 2021
9 / 10
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