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.
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!
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.
Who is keeping West Lancs such a secret? An outstanding golf course with some magic holes and presented in wonderful condition. Every bit as good as its close neighbours, probably worthy of a rating higher than S&A.
West Lancs is a beautifully pristine links, in the brilliant condition that you’d expect of an Open venue so it’s no wonder this place is often used for final qualifying. Routed with two loops of nine, this is a strong and true test of links golf where closely mown run-off areas are combined with thick rough to keep the examination tough and proper. Combine that with views out to the Liverpool Docks, the hills of North Wales and Gormley’s statues on the beach adjacent to the opening holes, and West Lancs has some great ingredients.
If you like your links golf unfussy and in front of you, then West Lancs is a course that you’ll thoroughly enjoy. Personally, I favour courses with quirk and character, and as good a course as this is, I felt West Lancs a little lacking in this department. There are no particular stand out or memorable holes, but instead it’s a series of strong holes, one after the other. If I was to name some of the more noteworthy, the 2nd with a centre line bunker in play from the tee and a sneaky pot bunker behind a dune before a slightly hidden green had some interesting traps up its sleeve. The 7th, a short par four with a grouping of bunkers protecting the corner of the dogleg was another of the picks from the front nine.
If we’re talking charm and character, I felt that the back nine had the edge over the front. A lovely mid-length Birkdale-esque par three at the 12th is followed by the excellent 13th, played from a raised tee box to raised green, with a view of the sea in the distance and a depressed dogleg fairway in between, this was the middle of my favourite stretch of holes through the course. A change of scenery follows at 14 and 15 as trees come into play, the first hole of these being long and blind and the other short and tight, both making good, strategic holes.
Overall West Lancs provides a good day out and is a hearty, genuine links but it’s probably a level below some of the other top class courses in this golf-rich region.
West Lancashire does not quite get the credit it deserves as it is surrounded by the likes of formby, hillside, S&A and Birkdale all nearby. As West Lancashire is given a Liverpool postcode I feel like it doesn’t quite get the same recognition as the Southport courses, yet it is equally as good! As soon as we entered through the gates we knew we were going to be in for a real treat and a fantastic links course was ahead of us. The general vibe of the golf club was good and everyone was very friendly with us. The condition of the course was immaculate with the greens rolling very well, the bunkers being fantastic and the fairways and tees being cut beautifully.
The par 3s were fantastic with my favourite of them being the 3rd hole. A short hole measuring only 160 yards from an elevated tee, well protected by bunkers to the right and a narrow green to hit to with many run offs. A few other favourites of mine would be the par 4 8th which was a very long hole playing about 430 yards. A blind tee shot followed by a tough approach shot with a slightly raised green to hit into. For me holes 13,14 and 15 were a fantastic stretch of holes on the back nine. 13 was a short par 4 with a trio of bunkers up the left hand side of the fairway. 14 plays as the hardest hole on the course at 430 yards with a blind tee shot but a beautiful 2nd shot into the green with trees running up the right hand side. 15 was a short par 4 dog leg right requiring an accurate tee shot and hidden bunkers around the green making it a very challenging hole.
When I look back at West Lancs golf club I realise that there are no real weak holes on the entire golf course with each hole bringing a new challenge. I really enjoyed my round there and definitely plan on returning back to play there again soon!
As with nearby Hillside, a game of two halves, although the differences are smaller at West Lancs. The front nine, nearer the sea is more austere. The back nine, especially the stretch between holes 12 to 15, offers a lot more vegetation and land movement.
I found that I liked the look of the front nine better, but rather than wishing that the whole course looked like that I felt that the variety actually enriches the course and makes it more memorable, although not all green sites on the back nine were to my liking.
West Lancs represents a different take on the links theme to its links brethren in the Southport area and I would put it as my 5th priority after the three Open venues and Formby when planning a tour to the area. In the real world of budgets and availability/time constraints, this means that it will go on the itinerary most of the time...
Finally, a plus is that you can take the train to the course. Hall Road station is probably as close to a club house as any train station in the UK. Keep this in mind if you wish to set up a car-independent itinerary!
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.