Royal Liverpool Golf Club

Royal Liverpool is the oldest of all the English seaside Clubs except for  Royal North Devon. At first glance the links at Hoylake can look flat and somewhat uninspiring. Tom Doak wrote “ Hoylake separates the true lovers of links golf from those who only sort of understand it”.

Earlier Darwin wrote “ this place of dull and mean appearance is one of the most interesting and difficult courses in the world, and pre-eminently is regarded with affection by all who know it well”.

The club has hosted 12 Open Championships (listed below) and from 1967 was not on the roster for 39 years. In 2006 the R &A were satisfied with the infrastructure and facilities, Hoylake was re-instated. In 2006 the legendary winds did not blow, but another mighty champion was born as Tiger Woods brilliantly navigated his way across firm and lightning fast links.

 In 2014, Rory McIlroy won his first Open Championship and third major title with a two-shot victory over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler on a thrilling final day at Hoylake. The Northern Irishman joins Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win three of golf's modern majors by the age of 25. Royal Liverpool Golf Club is set to host the 151st Open Championship in 2023. 


History of Liverpool Golf Club

Liverpool Golf Club at Hoylake was founded in 1869 and the Royal Hotel on Stanley Road, next to what is now the 17th hole, was used as a clubhouse. For its first seven years the links land was used as a golf course and a horse racing track. The original saddling bell hangs in the clubhouse.

Robert Chambers and George Morris (younger brother of Old Tom Morris)  were engaged to lay out the original 9 hole course which opened in 1869 and was extended to 18 holes in 1871. This was also the year in which the Club was granted its Royal designation, due to the patronage of His Royal Highness The Duke of Connaught, one of Queen Victoria's younger sons.

In 1885 Royal Liverpool hosted an Open Amateur Tournament, played during the Club’s Spring Meeting. Forty four leading players from recognised clubs took part and Allan Macfie beats Horace Hutchinson 7&6 in the final.

The event was successful and the club proposed to the Royal & Ancient Golf Club that a formal Amateur Championship be established. The suggestion was approved and the first Amateur Championship was staged at St. Andrews the following year.

Retrospectively in 1922 the Hoylake tournament was recognised as the first Amateur Championship. This was the start of a tremendous contribution to the amateur game from Royal Liverpool apart from all other clubs in England.

Although, at the end of the nineteenth century, it was the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews that took on the role of the governing body in golf as the game developed, it was at Hoylake that the rules of amateur status were laid down. They also staged 18 Amateur Championships between 1885 and 2000.

The club had two famous players who dominated the amateur game and could compete with the best professionals. Harold Hilton and John Ball both won the Open Championship as amateurs. Ball won the Amateur Championship eight times between 1888 and 1912 and was runner-up twice. 

He became the first Englishman and Amateur to win the Open Championship in 1890 at Prestwick and won the Amateur the same year. Harold Hilton won the Open twice, in 1892 and in 1897. He joined John Ball and Bobby Jones as the only amateurs to win the Open Championship.

In 1902 Royal Liverpool hosted the first international match between England and Scotland, later to become the Home Internationals. Harry Colt, one of the world's leading golf course architects, redesigned the course early in the 20th century, and it has since been tweaked periodically, mainly as a response to advances in equipment.


Royal Liverpool Golf Club

7312 yards, Par 72

The Royal Liverpool Golf Club links at Hoylake can be uplifting, challenging, and even daunting when the wind really blows and the summer rough is deep. The course was created to be a demanding test of golf and remains so.

It remains at the very heart of the history and development of the game in Great Britain. Despite its first glance flat and gentle appearance, Hoylake makes the trickiest demands of a player’s shot selection, distance control and accuracy.

Hole 1 

426 yards, par 4

The first is a tough par four of 426 yards with a tee shot flanked by out of bounds on one side and the Clubhouse on the other. It requires precision and resolution. A sharp dogleg right demands a well positioned drive near to the corner of the practice ground. The second shot is about 190 yards to a green protected by out of bounds close on the right.

Hole 2

372 yards, par 4

The second is a short par four of 372 yards. Drive close to the left of the fairway to gain the best angle of approach. Note the two bunkers at 275 and 295 yards. The green slopes from front to back and is well protected. It is the only green surviving from the original course.

Hole 3

528 yards, par 5

The third is a 528 yard par five that has been updated by Hawtree and Steel over the years. Drive between the gorse to the left and bunker on the right. The right side of the fairway will give the best approach to the two tier green.

Hole 4 

201 yards

The fourth is 201 yard par three surrounded by deep bunkers. Take an extra club and aim for the right of the green. This should clear the vast bunker front right and the contours should bring the ball back towards the hole.

Hole 5

480 yards, par 4, Index 1

The fifth is Index 1 and the longest par four at 480 yards. The tee shot is tricky with bunkers left and right and considerable gorse on the right. However, the best line from the tee is close to the right of the fairway. The approach shot normally requires one more club than you may first think.

Hole 6 

431 yards, par 4

The sixth is a par four of 431 yards. First timers will wonder where to drive with an out of bounds hedge just 190 yards from the tee. You just need to play to the wide part of the fairway.

This typically leaves a mid-iron to the green which runs from front to back with deep bunkers protecting the front. Hole positions  will be the most difficult placed at the front of the green.

Hole 7 

197 yards, par 3

The seventh is a par three of 197 yards. The prevailing wind is typically right to left and pin position can influence your choice of shot. There are bunkers left and right protecting a narrow green. It requires a perfect shot or you can be left with a difficult recovery.

Hole 8 

532 yards, par 5, index 3

The eighth is a 532 yard par 5 and index 3. The green is attributed to Harry Colt. This par five has caused problems for some great players. Bobby Jones in 1930 was just about 15 yards off the green in two but took seven.

You need to stay away from the very deep bunker which protects the front right hand side of the green. Tiger Woods unexpectedly found this bunker and took two shots to get out.

Hole 9 

The ninth is a short par four known aa ‘Punch Bowl’. On a course not known for its panoramic views here you can enjoy vistas of the Welsh hills and Dee estuary that provide a scenic backdrop to the first of four holes which run along the shore.

Hole 10 

447 yards

The tenth is a 447 yard par four dogleg left. There are three bunkers on the right of the fairway but cutting the corner is risky. Harry Colt levelled a dune to create the 10th green and the natural defences were so good that he did not need any greenside bunkers.

Hole 11

194 yards, par 3

The eleventh  is a par three of 194 yards. Harry Colt moved the green to a higher location. As it was in the era of hickory clubs this would have added to the challenge. You need enough club to carry the mounds guarding the front left of the green.

Hole 12

454 yards, par 4

The twelfth is a par four of 454 yards. Colt moved this hole some 100 yards to the left onto some fine linksland. In doing so many consider that he created the finest hole at Hoylake. It is a dogleg left and big hitters may try to carry the bunkers protecting the corner of the hole but this is quite risky.

Hole 13 

614 yards, par 5

The thirteenth is a 614 yard long par five that starts the highly regarded and daunting finishing stretch. It needs a drive towards the fairway bunkers on the left side and then requires a strong wood to stand a chance of reaching the green.

Hole 14

456 yards, par 4

The fourteenth is a 456 yard par four and is challenging into the prevailing wind. Avoiding bunkers at normal driving distance you need a good strong straight drive. The long approach is played to a deep two tiered green. A miss short left could find tricky bunkers or deep rough.

Hole 15 

134 yards, par 3

The fifteenth is a new par three of 134 yards developed for the 2020 season. The new green is elevated and set in the sand dunes with severe run offs on three sides. This hole will make a fabulous 17th for the Open Championship.

Hole 16

611 yards, par 5

The sixteenth is a par five of 611 yards that plays around the out of bounds of the practice area. Aim your tee shot at the dogleg from where you can play safe to the left. Skirting the out of bounds will give you a better third shot at the green which is well protected by bunkers.

Hole 17 

458 yards, par 4

The seventeenth is a 458 yard par four. It had a completely new green complex built in 2010. The green is very tricky to hold if you need a long iron for the approach. Keep your drive close to the bunker on the left for the best angle of approach to this long ,narrow and well-guarded green.

Hole 18

454 yards, par 4

The final hole is a 454 yard par four. With bunkers threatening left and right it requires precision with the tee shot. The approach is played to an undulating green with well positioned bunkers. Care is needed as slopes can run your ball off the green leaving your recovery in trouble.


Summary of Open Golf Championship winners Royal Liverpool - 1887 to 2014

Royal Liverpool has had a variety of winners representing seven different countries. They include two amateurs Harold Hilton and Bobbby Jones. Roberto de Vincenzo started as a caddie in Argentina and Arnaud Massie also started as a caddie at Biarritz in France.

Sandy Herd from St Andrews was the first Open Champion to use the Haskell rubber-cored ball. J. H. Taylor orphaned as a boy began work as a caddie  at the Royal North Devon Golf Club. He won five Open Championships. Walter Hagen was a leading golfer with 11 major wins. Alf Padgham was a prominent player in the 1930’s but his career was interrupted by World War 2.

Fred Daly from Portrush was the first Irishman to win the Open. Peter Thompson from Australia won the Open Championship five times. Thomson is the only golfer to win a modern major three times in succession. The 21st century winners Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy need no introduction.









 Winners Prize £


 Harold Hilton (a) England






 Am (30)


 Sandy Herd Scotland








 Arnaud Massy France








 J.H. Taylor England








 Walter Hagen USA








 Bobby Jones (a) USA






 Am (100)


 Alf Padgham England





 287   (−9)



 Fred Daly N. Ireland





 293 (+21)



 Peter Thomson Australia





 286   (+2)



 Roberto De Vicenzo Argentina





 278 (−10)



 Tiger Woods USA





 270 (−18)



 Rory McIlroy N. Ireland





 271 (−17)


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