Cheerless is one word I’d use to describe SAOL. Too many parallel holes run broadly in a north south direction making the going unpleasantly tough when the prevailing wind is blowing across the course. The monotony of the up and down routing is unfortunately only broken up by the par threes at the 3rd, 13th, and 16th.
The 9th “Cannon” is a wonderful par three, of course, facing back at the clubhouse, set in a dune-cloaked amphitheatre, and so is “Keepers Trap” the brutal west-facing par three 16th with its crowned and well-bunkered greensite. Both these one shot holes would grace any Open Championship links course, but sadly there’s not a lot else here that tickles my fancy.
Invariably in good condition, SAOL does play firm and fast, which I enjoy, but its unremarkable, flat canvas, flanked by a main road, a railway line, houses, an airport and the backdrop of Blackpool’s garish Pleasure Beach to the north, does nothing whatsoever for my personal sensibility.
Many wax lyrically about SAOL and draw a comparison with its illustrious regal neighbour. In my opinion, the contrast between the two is marked. Both these links courses have drab suburban surroundings and both are laid out on flat ground. But that’s where the comparison ends. If SAOL had a fraction of RL&SA’s elegant shaping it might deserve to be in the discussion.
Despite being a links lover, the main reason I’m not enamoured by SAOL is largely down to the incongruous mounds that masquerade as miniature dunes. In many cases these humps look like they were dropped off by a truck and then grassed over without any thought to shaping. Put simply, they look artificial.
However, if you enjoy being tested on a tough, windy and well-presented links course, then SAOL will tick those boxes. And the two aforementioned par threes are stellar and more than worthy of the modest entrance fee.
Date: December 01, 2019