Hall Road West,
L23 8SZ ,
- +44 (0)151 924 1076
9 miles north of Liverpool.
Weekdays only, not before 9.30am
West Lancashire Golf Club is the oldest surviving golf club in Lancashire, although, strictly speaking, Blundellsands is now part of the borough of Merseyside. In 1901, Harold Hilton, one of the finest amateur golfers of all time, was the Secretary of West Lancashire Golf Club. That same year, he won the British Amateur Championship at St Andrews, beating J Low by one hole. Hilton was also the British Open champion in 1892 and 1897, a feat only surpassed by Bobby Jones, who won the British Open on three occasions, also as an amateur.
The club was founded in 1873. The course was originally designed by the hands of an unknown architect, but this is such a natural links that we suspect Mother Nature did most of the work. We do know that Ken Cotton and Fred Hawtree made significant revisions to the layout in the early 1960s.
Its esteemed Royal neighbours keep West Lancs out of the limelight but it is a truly classical links course, located on a charming stretch of prime links land. On a clear day, to the north, Blackpool Tower can be seen in the distance. To the southwest, there are panoramic views across the Crosby Channel to the Birkenhead peninsula and Liverpool Bay beyond.
James Finnegan, in his book All Courses Great and Small, articulately sums up the characteristics of West Lancs: “On the 355-yard 13th, we fire away from an elevated tee, the fairway curving left along a dune-framed valley to a green on a cunning low plateau. The next hole, 412 yards, also begins on a high tee in the sandhills, but this time the downhill drive is blind, over a ridge, and the fairway bends sweepingly right, around a thick stand of pines, finally disclosing a raised green tucked in the lee of a wooded hillside.”
The Guinness Book of Golf Facts and Feats tells the amazing story of Peter Richard Parkinson who, on 6th June 1972, at West Lancs, performed the British Isles’ longest hole in one. It was on the 7th hole, and clearly it was a mistake because the 7th is called “Folly”, a 393-yard par four. Either way, it was one hell of a biff!
Stuart King commented on James Finnegan’s description as follows: “I have been a member at West Lancashire for over 40 years and never seen the 14th tee that is reported as being in the sandhills!”
West Lancashire Golf Club. Founded in 1873, it’s the oldest golf club in Lancashire and one of the oldest in England. Recently announced as a Final Open Qualifying venue until 2026, some of the names who would go on to be greats of the game have made it to the Open here.
A true links course set between the Mersey estuary and the Liverpool to Southport railway, which always adds to the links vibe. A mix of classic links holes on undulating land and some winding their way through dunes. Course was in fantastic condition with tee boxes and greens immaculate.
The first has to be one of the toughest opening holes I’ve played, straight into the prevailing wind. Most holes feature strategically placed bunkers, particularly on dog-legs which challenge you take to them on, which can be tricky as some holes are sheltered by dunes so you can’t feel the wind. A good set of par 3s and a lovely run of holes from 11 to 14 which were my favourite.
I’d say this is a must play for anyone in the area and if you overlook it for it’s arguably more famous neighbours then you are most definitely missing out. Can’t wait to play it again
West Lancashire is a fine links golf course, not quite at the level as many of the other courses nearby perhaps due to having fewer distinctive land features. The course is essentially flat with a few holes on the back incorporating trees. What I most admired about the course is many interesting green complexes, particularly the use of narrow channels/swales set about three feet below the edges of the greens as opposed to using sand bunkers.
The course is relatively consistent in look and feel and plays firm and fast. It is a very natural looking course. Two holes have trees which I believe half of which should be removed. The final hole has a pond very much in play which is out of character to the rest of the course. We played it on a low wind day. As the course sits close to the sea, it is more likely that winds can be a primary influence on the day’s play.
There is a restrained use of bunkers on the course, but where used they are well placed. None of the bunkers are overly deep but if one is near the face of them, they will likely drop a shot.
The majority of the green surfaces are flat and lack sufficient contouring. One would not have to do much to make them more interesting, simply raise or lower some areas by 3-4 inches, create some plateaus and hollows.
It begins with a good starting hole, a longer dogleg right of 428 yards with three inner corner bunkers on this dogleg right. The green features three bunkers with the early right front bunker the bigger danger.
The dogleg right par 5 second features two center-line bunkers off the tee and a single central bunker near the green. The green is placed off to the right where smaller dunes make the view of the flag more difficult if coming in from the right. For better players this is a short par 5 at only 513 yards.
I really liked the par 3 third at 154 yards with it’s two front bunkers and two on the right side. The left side features the grass channel down the entirety of the left side. The green is sloped to the back and to the right with good inner movement.
The fourth is shaped like the second, only this time as a long par 4 of 449 yards instead of a par 5. Out of bounds is down the left and the right side features a large valley. The entrance to the green is better from the left side of this sharp dogleg right with a narrow opening. There are various small mounds and depressions fronting the green which sits exposed surrounded by short grass. It is a good hole.
You turn back to the clubhouse for the next hole. Five is a short dogleg left par 5 of 511 yards with three fairway bunkers followed by five bunkers that make up the green complex. There are higher dunes down the left of the fairway. It is a challenging drive as the fairway narrows at the point of three bunkers. The green is one of the more undulating greens on the course although not overly difficult. It is defended by four bunkers of which three are on the left. A final bunker is on the right short of the green. I think this hole plays easier for shorter hitters who do not have to make a decision off the tee or on the second shot.
The sixth is a mid-length par 3 well defended at the front with three bunkers and run-offs on all sides. There is not anything unique regarding the hole but it is a solid hole.
Seven is a short par 4 dogleg right with four inner corner bunkers. There are no bunkers at the green although this is a substantial sharper fall-off of the left and rear. Like the fifth, I think this hole is more difficult for longer, better players who want to try to cut the dogleg while shorter hitters do not consider this option.
I liked eight which is a dogleg left playing away from the taller dunes down the left side and inside the mound on the right. This is one of the more interesting green complexes on the course with mid-sized dunes down the left and rear on this long green requiring one-two extra clubs depending on hole location.
Despite the blind tee shot I did not think much of the mid-length par 4 ninth which is a dogleg left and lacking definition.
Ten is a par 4 moving away from the clubhouse with three fairway bunkers for the shorter players and two more farther down for the longer players. The green is flat with a single deep pot both on the right. It is a hole merely to start the back nine.
I liked the eleventh, a longer par 5 with four well placed bunkers for the tee shot including a central bunker. Further up are three more bunkers down the left that come diagonally into the fairway. The railway line serves as out-of-bounds down the right side.
Twelve is the best par 3 on the course playing from an elevated tee across a valley to a green placed on higher ground with a sharp fall-off at the front and rises behind the green. The green is also fronted by two deep bunkers. The left side of the green is very shallow and sloped down. This would be a good hole on any course.
Thirteen is a gem from the back tee but not quite as good from the forward tee. The tees are elevated playing to lower ground on this par 4 dogleg left. There are three inner corner bunkers as well as a mound down the left. You must clear the corner to have a view of the green. The green has a substantial fall-off in a semi-circle around three sides. For me this is the most memorable hole on the golf course.
Fourteen is a fun hole as a sharp dogleg right with the green tucked on higher ground off on the right. Trees are down the right side as well as an inner corner bunker. If one hits a tee shot too far and straight they will go into a ditch, yet one must hit far enough to clear the corner to have a view of the green. If too short off the tee the smart play is to hit a positional shot to see the green. The green is raised with a sharp fall-off front and left. It is likely the hardest approach shot on the course. For us it was our second favorite hole on the course.
Fifteen is a short hole that feels like sharp dogleg right par 4 with trees going down the right. Yet the green sits back to the left. The tee shot needs to take on out-of-bounds wall down the left side that fronts the railway line.. Two bunkers bracket the front of the green with higher dunes surrounding three sides. The green is sloped left. Others liked the hole, I thought it was merely okay.
The mid-length par 5 sixteenth left me wanting more. For shorter hitters the set of bunkers for the second shot are the bigger danger. Otherwise, this hole is straightforward.
Seventeen is a mid-length par 3 except from the back tee at 196 yards. While three pot bunkers guard the green, it needs a more interesting green surface.
Eighteen is a par 4 of medium length where the tee shot needs to be placed between the two bunkers left and the hidden pond down the right. It has a decently contoured green awaiting the player.
West Lancashire is an enjoyable course that can be admired by players of all abilities. It offers enough challenge for the longer, better players as well as interesting greens and strategic bunkering for the lesser, more average index player. The course is well routed. I suspect the members are quite pleased with their course even if it sits in the shades of nearby courses that are more well known. If it wants to rise in the rankings, it would require more interesting green surfaces to create more memorable holes.
Cracking links course with plenty of ships in close proximity. When the wind blows it is brutal and haven’t played it in the calm yet. Despite the more talked about illustrious neighbours in the area it is still well up there in the rankings and a must play for any links golf lover.
Up there in my top 3 courses I have ever played. Played there as part of a over 35s amateur event and it was fantastic. Friendly welcome from members in the car park and staff in the pro shop. I stocked up on souvenirs and half price under armour clothing before hitting the range. Reasonable price balls, range was basic but the putting and chipping areas were superb. The course itself was immaculate. The greens were possibly the best I have played Fairways were great also. They had a team out in the middle of the day repairing divots etc which is the first time I have seen that anywhere. Friendly and reasonably priced bar. Definitely will be going again.
Difficult to rate higher than an Excellent only because geographically it is as the crow flies a close neighbour to Royal Birkdale , Royal Liverpool , Hillside and Formby ( special mentions too to S and A and Wallasey) . But I’d agree with the assessment that it’s probably the best course never to hold The Open !
The course is as true a links course as any in the land and is always eminently playable . How well you play it depends on ability and wind . In recent years I’ve had 19 in a howling gale and 44 on the stillest day possible .
All I can say is - if you can , play it !
Had the pleasure of playing West Lancashire GC recently (Oct 11th) - WOW! I’ve been lucky enough to have played several links courses this year and to be honest, I’ve not had a bad experience yet. However, the conditions at West Lanc’s yesterday were simply superb.
After a warm welcome from the Professional staff, we spent some time on the practice areas fronting the clubhouse. The turf here was just a joy to chip and putt on, setting the standards which we found were maintained throughout the course.
I’m never sure when standing on the first tee of any course what to truly expect and perhaps at first glance, as you look across the 1st, 9th and 18th fairways / greens, you might be forgiven for thinking that the terrain looks a little uninspiring. Worry not though as you are in for a real treat.
From the moment the starter warmly greets you on the tee and happily shares his pride in his club, you start to get the feeling that you are in for something special. The 1st at just 428 yards (into a head wind) lures you onto the course where you really start to recognise the quality in front of you.
As I referred to earlier, the design and setup of the course is immaculate, from the sand in the bunkers (gives you great confidence to play from) to the contouring of the greens and surrounds. Bunkers designed to gather the ball and up turned saucers for greens, demand your attention and if you manage to walk off with a par, you have earned it.
There was simply nothing out of place and the attention to detail and pride of the greens team is easy to see.
The architecture of the clubhouse might not be everyone’s choice but the views from the lounge and the warmth of welcome from the staff cannot be denied. It all just added to a great day out.
We will be back!
The ferry did, indeed, go across the Mersey and to paraphrase Gerry Marsden, this land was a place I loved.
West Lancashire Golf Club looks out upon one of the most sung about estuaries in the world.
And the Stena Line ship arrived as we were taking our refreshment following the delayed spring open at this great old course.
The vistas out to sea are one of the hallmarks of a club made famous by Harold Hilton, its secretary in the early 1900s after his two Open wins at Muirfield and Hoylake
Hilton is remembered in the modern clubhouse with memorabilia and a photo of him playing in a three-piece suit and smoking a cigarette while in mid-swing.
As our intrepid quartet took on these tough links, I wondered how Hilton would have managed to score well with hickory clubs in heavy, often wet tweed.
Anyway, thanks to my partner's early blitz of birdies, we threatened to follow in his footsteps in grand style.
Sadly, good things rarely last but, while we didn’t live up to the dazzling pace, we did prove that, on a relatively calm sunny day, good scores are possible.
Actually, by ‘relatively calm’ I mean a wind which only required a two-club alteration. Goodness knows how a hoolie is accommodated.
Regardless, West Lancs was a joy – especially memorably for its fabulous green complexes which are in superb condition but often prompt delight to turn to dismay as approach shots fall from the putting surface into swales or, worse still, bunkers.
The potted sand traps are fiendish because they are narrow and the ball often ends up against a vertical face or extraction requires a gymnast’s flexibility to create a stance (twice I was forced to kneel on one leg on grass with one foot in the bunker).
The friendly chap in the pro shop had warned us to make sure we kept out of the rough but it wasn’t nearly as penal as he suggested.
Indeed, it was graduated so the ball could be played easily out of the first two cuts and would only be lost if shots were very wide.
Strategy and accuracy rather than big-hitting are key to success around West Lancs and this is reflected best by the short, dog-leg, par-four 7th.
My pals were tempted to cut off the corner where rough and bunkers lurk. I followed the less dangerous (chicken’s) route and chipped to ten feet for a birdie putt (I missed!).
The 13th is the course’s picture hole, curving from right to left, with a backdrop of the sea and 32 wind turbines, as high as the London Shard.
Delicate placement down the right is likely to yield a score, whereas bunkers will suck in shots just left of centre and bushes and a pond will punish hooks.
The quirkiest hole is the 14th, the men’s stroke index one, with a blind tee shot over gorse before bending round towards a green protected by woods to the right.
I hammered my best drive of the day and thought I had nailed a seven-iron into the green only for it to fall off to the left.
This was also my fate on the 15th which is ironically named Sniggery because it provided no chortles.
It requires a controlled drive to avoid trees and water to the right and out of bounds to the left. However, I can verify that is not the end of the danger because my approach slid down to the pot bunker at the side of the target and I couldn’t get out.
But the sting in the tail came on the long par-three 12th when my partner’s ball literally landed on a bees’ nest. I can’t think why he refused to play it.
Yes, West Lancs is at one with nature, fitting beautifully into the landscape and, at £55 for a better-ball competition with sandwiches and soup thrown in, it was among the best-value rounds of my top100 quest so far.
But, unfortunately, unlike Gerry, here I can't stay.
Played West Lancs again recently in an inter club match, one of my favourites and can't believe I have never reviewed it. Over recent years the new green keeper has presented this course in outstanding condition and appearance. This is a true test of links golf, for more probably one of the most underrated courses I have ever played, yes it can be tough but take what it gives you on the day and appreciate its glory.
Hole after hole provides different challenges from blind tee shots, small greens, dogleg holes, clever fairway bunkering this place had the lot and more in the tank. If your ever visiting the North West Coast be sure to include this beauty.
West Lancs didn’t quite hit the spot for me like other courses in the area did. It is an impressive layout, with its two loops of nine meaning the wind comes from all directions. It just, for me, missed a little charm or quirk, plus the three holes along the railway line have more parkland turf. It is a true championship course but is still playable if the wind is behaving.
The front nine is the slightly more linksy side, playing nearer the sea and challenging you with frequent doglegs. 7 was my pick as it is shorter and so really does dare you to cut the corner.
The back half plays closer to the railway than sea, although 13 (pictured) has perhaps the best sea-bound view on the course. 16 is a particularly memorable long hole, its aesthetic and bunkers worthy of an Open venue. All four par 3s are of a high standard, although similar in length.
So I would recommend West Lancs but not ahead of the courses a little further north. I didn’t leave the course besotted, but plenty of people have, so it’s best to visit and decide for yourself.
I played West Lancs twice in one day in an open competition in September 2018 and in varied conditions, the wind on certain holes in the afternoon blowing almost in the opposite direction to the morning - a good way to experience the different character of the holes.
The 2nd is one of my favourite holes on the course, a par five of 515 yards with two centre-line fairway pot bunkers to negotiate off the tee - avoid these and you will have a shot at the green in two, which is sneakily tucked in to the right behind a mound. The green is small and more receptive to short approaches than mid/long irons or woods, making accuracy key in the approach play. The lay-up is complicated by a bunker 30 yards from the front, so strategy is a major factor.
The 3rd is my pick of the par threes, it is 160 yards at most downhill to a green with four pot bunkers short and right, framed in a majestic amphitheatre setting. Beautiful! The 4th is the hole where the most prevalent themes of the course reveal themselves - not necessarily aesthetically great, daunting and edgy - not immediately littered with obvious danger, but dangerous! It is a left-to-right par four with a wide driving zone, but with O.B. left and some horrible deep grassy hollows to the right you must hit this fairway as the approach becomes quite narrow and undulating the closer you get to the green, hence the stroke index of 4. The 5th is par five that, like the 2nd, is reachable even for average length hitters if the wind is helping, relatively flat towards the green, albeit with five bunkers scattered around.
The 7th is my favourite hole on the course, a hole of great character. The tee rests at one of the highest points on the grounds from where there is a panoramic view of the course, surroundings and bay area. It is a sharp dogleg right and, in the appropriate wind, cutting the corner and going for the green are options for big hitters, though for most it is about finding position left of the bunkers off the tee and hitting a precise approach to hold the green that perilously falls off both left and right. The front nine closes with two par fours, both favouring tee shots shaped from right-to-left, the 8th downhill and off the large mound on the right side of the fairway and the 9th off the fairway-side bell. These are two tough holes if the wind is against you, the 8th in particular, where it is not uncommon to see tee shots lost right onto the 2nd fairway leaving a long 200+ shot to the green.
The back nine begins with a benign flat par four that plays very short if downwind and provided you manage to avoid the five fairway bunkers. A charming hole and birdie chance to set you off on the back side. Then, the long 11th, one of the more memorable holes on the course, running seemingly forever and ever along the boundary of the grounds with the Liverpool-Southport railway line passing by on the right. It is a 585 yard straight hole with four bunkers to trouble the tee shot, three to consider on the second shot and two at the green, the one on the right in particular possessing magnetic powers.
The stroke saver describes the 12th as being "widely recognised as one of the great par threes". I found this an odd statement on reflection as I would prefer both the 3rd and 6th over this one. That said, it is clearly a very good golf hole. Around 180 yards slightly uphill to an elevated green surrounded by dunes and with two deep pot bunkers short right. The 13th on the other hand is rightly highlighted for a great vista from the elevated tee and is also a super par four. It veers right to left around a high dune, with three pot bunkers on the left side of the fairway at the foot of the dune. You want to have a short approach as the green is dangerously perched on a ledge with fall-offs short and right, so it should be accessed from the right side as the contours will help feed the ball to the middle of the green.
The par four 14th hole is the hardest on the course. It is a long dogleg right with several complications: a blind tee shot; a solitary bunker and jungle to the right to deter cutting the corner off the tee; there is room left but the further left you go the more you turn the hole into a par five; straight tee shots can overrun the fairway find a hazard; the second shot towards the elevated green, which is overlooked by a smattering of trees, leaves little margin for error left or right with long grass and bushes rendering the best miss short. If it's into the wind it really is a total brute. There is not much respite after this as the 15th is another tough par four that demands a long approach to a narrow green area if you don't hit a solid drive to the left half of the fairway. The O.B. wall and railway is all down the left and is a factor on both tee shot and approach, whilst tee shots too far right off the tee will be partially blocked out by trees. I found actually this hole just as difficult as the 14th in the end.
If you have managed to keep your score together to the 16th tee you have done well and this straight par five might offer a birdie chance, but you must be precise with both your tee shot and second shots due to the bunkering. The par three 17th is around 200 yards with a green shape / bunker position that probably favours a left-to-right flight. Then to the closing hole, a straight par four, asking a very accurate tee shot due to the unusual links-land pond on the right of the fairway and bunkers left to capture the obvious bail-out. It's quite common to see players with good scores on the go aiming down the 10th fairway here, a point that perhaps takes away from the hole slightly I would suggest.
Pick of the holes: Par 3 – 3rd; Par 4s - 7th, 13th; Par 5 - 2nd.