Hall Road West,
L23 8SZ ,
- +44 (0)151 924 1076
9 miles north of Liverpool.
Weekdays only, not before 9.30am
Ken Cotton, Fred Hawtree
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 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.
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!
What a fantastic course! West Lancs should be world famous. Make no mistake, this is the real deal; a proper links course which challenges every aspect of your game. You come off feeling like you've had a proper examination - but, wow, it's fun. We played in June and it was fast and firm - proper running golf. Greens were in good nick and the whole experience was a joy. Every bit as good as it's more illustrious neighbours. Play it if you can.
It was the day after The Open and we'd decided to have a quick round somewhere locally prior to heading back home. We had our preferences but most of them were understandably full and West Lancashire wasn't our first choice. Their regular green-fee also seemed a little steep at £95. Still, it is priced relative to the other local offerings and we were nevertheless looking forward to playing.
We pulled into the car park after the short drive down from Southport and it felt like we'd pulled up at my son's football club. It's always a minor shame when a course is Victorian and the clubhouse feels post-Beatles.
The 1st is a reasonable opener to get you away: Easy enough to reach the angle of the dogleg to open up the green. I did this, but only by almost going OB to the left.
The second hole was a stiffer test - a longer Par 4 straight into the wind. Interesting bunkers in the middle of the fairway. I was happy to find one of them with a decent hit in that wind. No chance of getting in in two from there (which saved any further embarrassment).
Next up was the first Par 3, a good downhill hit with trouble on all sides. I found all of the short holes to offer good variety and well-framed shots. If being ultra-fussy, you might say that 3 of them play in the same direction.
One highlight on the front 9 was the 5th - a nice driving hole where you ideally need to hit a draw to avoid the left sided bunkers and stay on the fairway that slopes left to right. The Par 3 6th is a bit like a mini version the 6th at Royal Dornoch.
The 12th is a brilliant elevated Par 3 that made me feel like I was in the dunes at Royal Hague. Probably my favourite hole. I also enjoyed the drives at the Par 4 13th and the 14th - one a nice vista and the other blind. The links character changes here slightly (if my memory serves me correct), and this quieter spot on the course feels like it must be West Lancs's Amen Corner (sorry, had to throw in a cliche there). The Par 3 then Par 4 finish were also a nice way to finish the round.
I enjoyed the routing of 2 symmetrical loops of 9 - clockwise then anti-clockwise - that both end up at the clubhouse. On the day I felt the rough was too long - lost a couple of balls on the front 9 despite my eagle-eyes seeing the ball come down - and it's a shame you don't really get any sea views on the course.
Having said this West Lancashire is proper links stuff though, where most of the challenge is clearly laid out in front of you on clearly defined holes. The key is to avoid the rough in all that wind. The course delivers lots of quality golf with a regular consistency, and although there was no real peaks of thrilling holes, we enjoyed the challenge and authenticity. Happy to go back there at some point to look for those balls I lost. BB
On a trip up to the North West to watch the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale, which Jordan Speith won in spectacular style, we were lucky enough to include West Lancs in our rota of courses whilst in the area. Playing as a fourball of single figure golfers, the challenge of this hard, fast running, classic links course gave us all a stern test of our golfing ability.
Stretching out to over 7,000 yards from the black tees, WLGC has stood the test of time and technology and requires long accurate driving on all the par 4’s and par 5’s. The amount of bunkers doesn’t seem as vast as neighbouring courses, particularly Royal Birkdale, but the strategic placements have you thinking on every drive about where to hit it.
The start of the back 9 is where a score is made. The run from 11-15 demand a selection of shots to a good mix of holes, each having their own individual style. On 14 the drive needs to be to the right of the church tower, as there is more room than it appears from the tee for a well hit drive.
The last 3 holes that head for home don’t disappoint. A simple yet strong par 5 followed by a par 3, where the bunkers and run offs around the green are magnificent, and remind you of the presentation and attention to detail throughout.
I’m sure the members and the course staff are very proud of the ‘lesser known’ North West Links course. Having played a number of them I feel this one holds it’s own, and should be a very serious consideration for anyone visiting the North West coast area.
P.S. Beware of the drive on 7 and land the ball where you can see it!
The main challenge at West Lancs, apart from the length, is the nature of the green complexes. The vast majority are raised, almost upturned saucers, where the heart of the green must be found to avoid your ball potentially being swept away into one the many, many run-offs around the putting surfaces. This means that lots of the greens are effectively mini-plateaus and this is likely to result in plenty of interesting recovery shots from around them. Add to this several deep greenside pot bunkers and your approach play, often with a long iron, must be of the highest quality in order to score well.
The examination you face, however, begins long before you must play to the greens because West Lancs is also one of the most bunkered links off the tee. From recollection I think only the fourth, eighth, ninth and 15th are bunkerless on the drive. The rest of the long holes have some of the best positioned sand-traps on any of the top links courses with the centreline pits at the second and 11th (both par fives) exceptional. All four of the par-fives are very well bunkered and whilst they present opportunities to improve your score they are not without their perils.
There’s little to be critical about at West Lancs. I’m not a fan of the hidden water hazard that is in play on the ninth and 18th holes. It is blind from the tee and can create doubt as to whether a ball is actually in the hazard or in the thick rough around it; although I’m not sure what a good solution to this would be. The sand in the bunkers was also not what you would typically expect from a seaside course. Rather than it being fine, sharp and crystalised it was much heavier and wetter. That aside I really can’t pick fault with the course.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Must be close to inclusion in the Top 100 list ! Very much a links course and the most of that ilk in the area. The dunescape is subtle rather than spectacular. Very few weak holes and half a dozen great holes:- 3, 4, 8, 11, 14, 18 (although didn’t like the pond to the right). A very solid golf course.
This course is between a 4 and 5 Ball rating. I played here in about 2008 and remembered there was not a bad hole on the course, the price and value were excellent along with the experience. This has to be one of the most underrated courses as a whole experience, value, and pure links fun and test of ones game. How is West Lancs ranked in the 40's behind places like Burnham and Berrow, Woburn, and West Hill?!?! This is a can't miss course if you're in the area.
West Lancs is a super course, very friendly, and like Hillside would be more highly regarded if it didn't have such superlative neighbours.
Quality links golf here, distance is required and it's a very tough course with unforgiving rough and waste areas.
Highly recommended.and whilst a slightly "lesser" course it's quieter and more enjoyable and much better value than Hillside or Birkdale.
I revisited West Lancashire last week, almost ten years since I last played here, and the first thing to impress me was the makeover to the exterior of the clubhouse, which really looked tired and dated a decade ago. It may be one of the oldest clubs in England but it now possesses one of the smartest looking clubhouse buildings around, reflecting the way West Lancs appears to be going about its business, both on and off the course.
I can only endorse the sentiments of the last reviewer who mentioned that “the course has been opened up to define more of its link characteristics” because it was a delight to see the likes of the natural swales around many of the greens (such as the one to the left of the 3rd green) brought into play, allowing a recovery shot to be played when an approach shot had failed to hold the putting surface.
The same reviewer also wrote about there being “plenty of strong holes” and this is particularly true for the sequence of holes between the 3rd and 7th on the front nine and holes 12 to 15 on the back nine. The latter group of holes at the most northerly point on the course form a rather unique set of links holes, with the last two doglegging right around a line of trees and bushes that run along a sand ridge.
Some quality revetted bunker work has recently been carried out around the 15th green and I believe this is part of an ongoing programme of work that recently appointed Master Greenkeeper Stuart Hogg has planned for the course. He favours firm and fast playing conditions and the efforts of the green keeping staff under his direction are certainly being appreciated by the members that I spoke to out on the course.
I only hope Stuart decides to keep the two tiny pot bunkers in the middle of the 2nd fairway – God only knows why they were put there in the past – as they provide a whimsical talking point early in the round! West Lancs is often overlooked in favour of its more illustrious neighbours along the Golf Coast of England and that’s a real shame because it has all the traditional attributes visiting golfers could ever wish to find in a links layout.