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.
Date: June 04, 2021