Wallasey is unlike any other course along the North-West links coast. Despite being only a short distance from Hoylake just a few miles across the other side of the Wirral peninsula, the two courses couldn’t be more different. Whilst Royal Liverpool is subtle, gently contoured and exposed, Wallasey is bold and dramatic with large dunes and lots of land movement. The golf holes at Wallasey are a real mix of all sorts of bits and pieces, starting amongst some rippling land and rising dunes before climbing to the stunning elevated platform of the 4th tee shot and then across some flat land at the back of the property. This all means that it’s difficult to characterise Wallasey in a single description.
The vision that strikes you as you arrive for a round at Wallasey is the dramatic view looking back at the 18th, but more on that shortly.
The opening holes are very good, interwoven between dunes they provide a fine start, and whilst the club are battling with the high water table in front of the 1st green, this is nothing that can’t be overcome. Otherwise, the opening five holes provide exciting topography with amazing views out to the Irish Sea. Before playing Wallasey, I’d probably seen more selfies from the 4th tee than any other images of the course combined, but it is a beautiful spot and it’s understandable that it’s the one place on the course above any others that has people reaching for their cameras. And whilst the sea to the right of the 4th tee might tempt us to guard against the right-sided miss, the sneaky snake mounding that divides the 4th and 17th fairways on the left will be sure to provide a nasty lie and enough punishment for those who choose that route as their bail out.
It’s not quite all sunshine and roses at Wallasey though, the flat ground at 6 and 7 and then later on the back nine at 13 and 14 are a little lifeless, made particularly stark by the dramatic nature of the rest of the course. But at least the holes across this flatter ground aren’t all played in sequence. This is one of the really clever design elements of the course routing that I liked. The more modest section of the property is only short-lived meaning you get the chance to dip your toe in and out of the best part of the property on various occasions throughout the round.
Touching upon the best holes, it would be remiss of me to not mention 11 which is the kind of hole I might expect if I was playing golf in County Kerry or Donegal. This hole sits within the most elevated stretch of duneland where the fairway dips at midpoint before you scramble your way back up to the wonderfully located and tilted green that sits proud above the rest of the hole where a shallow dune frames one side of the putting surface. The green on the following par three 12th, whilst located on the flatter land, is brought to life by some wonderful bunkering, but the closing stretch from 15 to 18 at Wallasey is really the part of the course to savour and provides a supreme test of your nerve. 16 is maybe the most penal of these holes; a par three of 200-yards in length isn’t in itself unusual, but the green-site that’s wedged against a dune to the right and exacerbated by a devilish run-off to the left has likely put many an excellent round of golf to the sword.
But it’s the 18th hole that caused me the biggest thrill and amongst the finest finishers in England since we produced Gary Lineker. In some ways out of character with much of the course since it plays over more turbulent ground, it was as if the hole was air-lifted out of Prestwick, and the backdrop of the charming clubhouse and St Nicholas’ church tower provides a wonderful end to proceedings.
A visit to Wallasey should be far more than just a pilgrimage to the home of stableford, but also a chance to visit a genuinely excellent course, and one worthy of fighting for a place amongst England’s top 50. I’ll be intrigued to revisit to see how the course has developed once all of the course improvements are complete. If the architects currently employed by the club can breathe more interest to those flatter holes furthest away from the sea, we might well see Wallasey starting to punch above its weight.
Date: August 23, 2021