The Royal Birkdale G.C.

Royal Birkdale is located on the North West Coast of England in the town of Southport. This is on a stretch of coast about 40 miles long from The Wirral in the South to the north of Lytham.

This coast often termed the ‘Golf Coast’ has six top-quality links golf courses and a few more besides. It is the best area in England to play links golf and can be accomplished from a base in Southport.

There are three current Open Championship courses on the coast, Royal Liverpool, Royal Birkdale, and Royal Lytham. Four of the six leading courses are in or close to Southport.

Royal Birkdale is ranked in the world top 100 and is high in the English top ten courses. It is known for being tough but fair.

The fairways run through high dunes which provides excellent viewing for spectators. These features make it ideal for major tournaments. It is said to have hosted more Championship and International events since World War Two than any other course in the world.

This includes ten Open Championships, two Ryder Cups, Women's British Opens, Senior Opens, Amateur Championships, Walker Cups, and Curtis Cups. A visit to Royal Birkdale will give you the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the greatest golfers in the world and remember some of the most thrilling moments in the history of the game.


Royal Birkdale History 

The club was formed in 1889 by nine founder members, it would be called Birkdale Golf Club. The original 9 hole course was on Shaw Hills, behind Bedford Road.

In 1897 the Club moved to the Birkdale Hills where an 18 hole course was constructed. From the earliest days, women have played a prominent part in the history of Birkdale.

The first lady members were elected in 1890 and the ladies' section has remained ever since as an integral part of the Club. In 1922 the Club sought to buy the course, but the asking price of £19,000 was considered to be too high.

Southport Corporation became the new owners and fears that they would take over the course were thankfully groundless and a seven-year plan was put into operation to prepare the course to be of Championship standard. This involved the building of a new Clubhouse and also remodeling of the design of the course.

The Club employed Hawtree as golf course architects including J H Taylor, a player who had dominated the Open Championship during the 20 year period immediately prior to the First World War. Their plan was to lay out holes in the valleys between the sandhills rather than over them.

This enabled Birkdale to be known as one of the fairest of the championship courses. The course was tough but fair. It rewarded the straight hit but punished the wayward shot.

The fairways threaded through the valleys leaving the massive sand dunes as perfect vantage points for spectators. In early 1939, Birkdale was nominated as the venue for the 1940 Open Championship but the Second World War started and the Championship was cancelled.

In 1946 the club finally hosted its first big championship, the Amateur Championship. The club also hosted the 1948 Curtis Cup and the 1951 Walker Cup.

In 1951 His Majesty The King bestowed the Royal Charter and the club was renamed “The Royal Birkdale Golf Club." With the successful staging of these important events, Royal Birkdale was felt to be ready for its first Open Championship in 1954 and has continued on the Open roster ever since.

In the sixties, with the growing popularity of golf as a spectator sport, drastic changes were made after 1961 Open: updating the Clubhouse and catering for the vast hordes of people who wanted to partake in the atmosphere around the links.

In 1965 the club hosted the Ryder Cup and again in 1969. In 1993 Martin Hawtree improved and modernised the layout further, with all 18 of the club's greens being completely rebuilt, to improve turf and drainage following the 1991 Open Championship.


Royal Birkdale Golf Course

7156 yards, Par 70 

The course at Royal Birkdale is famous as an Open Championship course and for its world ranking. It is widely known as a fair course.

The fairways generally run in flat valleys between the sand dunes. If you drive onto the fairway your ball will normally run true.

From the tee, you typically have a clear view of the task ahead. This is a course that sets its challenges and protects its greens with many bunkers.

From the Championship tees, twelve of the eighteen holes par fours and two of them are amongst the longest in Championship golf. The wind when coming from the Irish Sea can add significantly to the tough challenge.

The course rewards good shots such as creative links shots using the contours wisely and strategically but punishes any errant drives or poor approach shots.

Placement on the fairways needs to be precise as the creative design will often draw your ball towards one of the pot bunkers. The greens are fair and run true but are typically well-protected.

Hole 1

The course begins with a most demanding opening hole. It takes you into and between the dunes which the layout follows for much of the first 14 holes. It is 448 yards from the back tee and has a double dog leg.

You need a good drive to avoid the tricky bunker on the left of the fairway. The approach can require a fairway wood to a green guarded by three bunkers and a large mound front right conceals much of your target.

Hole 2

The second is 442 yards and index three with a slight dogleg left that plays into the wind. From the tee avoid the two bunkers to the right of the fairway. The green complex is protected by six more bunkers.

Hole 3

The third is another long par four of 451 yards with more bunkers on either side of the fairway. Drive down the left for the best approach to an angled green.

Hole 4

The fourth is 199 yards, a great par three with many tough bunkers surrounding the green.

Hole 5

The fifth is a short par four of 346 yards that dog legs right with excellent greenside bunkering.

Hole 6 & 13

The 6th and 13th holes both measure 499 yards and are two of the longest par fours in championship golf.

Hole 7

The 7th plays back into the dunes and is a great par three with its famous doughnut bunker at the front of the green.

Hole 8

To finish the front nine the eighth is another tough par four of 458 yards and is beautifully designed, located, and defended.

Hole 9

The ninth is the seventh par four on the opening holes and has a blind tee shot and tricky approach.

Hole 10 & 11

Two more par fours start the back nine with the tenth a great dogleg hole and the eleventh with its hogs back on the green and a run-off area down the right side of the green.

Hole 12

The much admired classic par three twelfth is from an elevated tee. You must carry a hollow and avoid four pot bunkers to find the narrow kidney shaped green at the foot of a sandhill.

Hole 13

The 13th mentioned above with the sixth is famous for a drive by Jordan Spieth in the 2017 Open that was so unbelievably wide. It did not however prevent him from winning the tournament.

Hole 14

The fourteenth is the longest par three at 200 yards but is also index 18 so perhaps an opportunity. The final four holes provide a tough finish par 5, 4, 5 , 4.

Hole 15

The fifteenth is 452 yards and index 2. It has been described as 452 yards of bunkerdom being the most heavily bunkered hole on the course. With its narrow green, it is worth considering a lay upon the approach.

Hole 17

The par five 17th starts with a drive through dunes on either side of the fairway and then a sharp dog leg left. It has a great green setting but the two tier green is narrow and long and again a lay-up may be considered.

Hole 18

The eighteenth is 473 yards par four and is heavily bunkered with out of bounds up the right. A hole that has seen much drama over the years from the iconic art deco clubhouse.


The first and last Open Golf Championships hosted by Royal Birkdale to date.


83rd Open Championship Royal Birkdale – 1954

Royal Birkdale hosted the Open for the first time. Syd Scott, Peter Thomson and Dae Rees were at the top of the leader board going into the final round. Scott shot a 72 over the last 18-holes, posting a clubhouse lead of 284.

Rees also posted 284 after missing a putt at the 18th. Thomson missed a short putt at the 12th, but managed to get up-and-down from a bunker at 16.

He went to the 17th needing a par and a bogey on his last two holes to become the new clubhouse leader. He got the par, but at 18 he found trouble in a bunker.

He again managed a superb recovery, and while he missed his first putt he easily tapped in for a round of 71 and a 283 total.

Bobby Locke had a chance to tie Thomson with a 3 at the last, but his birdie putt came up just short making Thomson the winner of the Championship. This win was the first in a run of three consecutive Open Championship titles by Thomson.

He became the first player since Bob Ferguson from 1880-82 to win three straight Opens. Altogether he would win three of the next four Opens and add another win in 1965, which was also held at Royal Birkdale.

Thomson was the first Australian to win the Open Championship, and the youngest champion since Bobby Jones. The winners cheque was £750.


146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale - 2017

It was the tenth Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. After the first round Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, and Jordan Spieth shared the lead after the first round on five under par.

In difficult weather conditions, only eight players scored under par for their second rounds, Zach Johnson's 66 being the best round of the day. Jordan Spieth followed his first-round 65 with a 69 to lead by two strokes from Matt Kuchar.

In the third round leading wire to wire Jordan Spieth shot a 65 to take a three-stroke lead over Matt Kuchar, who shot a 66. On an easier day for scoring, Branden Grace scored 62, breaking the major championship record of 63.  

Starting the final round with a three-shot lead, Jordan Spieth made a terrible start, he bogeyed three of his first four holes to tie with Matt Kuchar. A birdie at the 5th combined with a bogey by Kuchar at the 6th allowed Spieth to re-open a two-stroke advantage, but a bogey-birdie swing at the 9th evened the score heading to the back-nine.

The score remained level until the 13th when Spieth hit his tee shot 120 yards to the right of the fairway. Forced to take an unplayable lie and drop from deep rough, he managed to get up-and-down to save bogey while Kuchar took the lead by making par.

At the par-three 14th, however, Spieth nearly holed his tee shot and converted the birdie attempt to tie Kuchar. Then at the par five 15th, Spieth made a 48-foot eagle putt to take the lead once again.

With birdies on the next two holes Spieth played holes fourteen to seventeen in five-under to take a two-stroke lead heading to the last. When Kuchar found a greenside bunker and made bogey, Spieth was able to tap in for par and win the championship by three strokes.

He shot four rounds in the sixties for 268 (–12). With the victory, Spieth joined Jack Nicklaus as the only golfers to win three legs of the career Grand Slam before the age of 24. This was the first year that the prize money was paid in U.S. dollars, rather than British pounds. He won 1,845,000 dollars.


Summary of Open Golf Championships hosted by Royal Birkdale -  1954 to 2017









 Winners Prize £


 Peter Thompson Australia





 283 (−9)



 Arnold Palmer USA





 284 (−4)



 Peter Thompson Australia





 285 (−7)



 Lee Trevino USA





 278 (−14)



 Johnny Miller USA





 279 (−9)



 Tom Watson USA





 275 (−9)



 Ian Baker-Finch Australia





 272 (−8)



 Mark O'Meara USA





 280 (E)



 Pádraig Harrington Ireland





 283 (+3)



 Jordan Spieth USA





 268 (−12)



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