Hillside Golf Course

Hillside Golf Club is located in Southport which is 'England's Golfing Capital' in an area often referred to as the ‘Golf Coast'. The course forms part of England's finest stretch of coastal links being adjacent to Royal Birkdale, Southport & Ainsdale and Formby Golf Course a few miles down the road.

The 7029 yard course has some magnificent sandhills and stunning pinewoods. Hillside Golf Club is actually ranked in the top 25 courses in all the British Isles but is relatively unknown internationally because it has never hosted the Open. The club is often regarded as the finest links golf course not to have hosted the Open Championship.

It has hosted many amateur and professional tournaments and was recently selected by the European Tour to stage the 2019 British Masters. The R&A have selected Hillside to host The Amateur and Ladies Amateur Championships as well as Final Qualifying for The Open on numerous occasions.


History of Hillside Golf Course

The original Hillside course was founded in 1911, but there was a big change in the mid-1960s. The club sold some of the land on which the course stood to building developers and used the money wisely to procure further acreage on the Birkdale side of the course.

This was an ideal arrangement. The new land would have been little use for housing. It was however eminently suitable for links golf. Instead of being a humble neighbour to Birkdale, Hoylake and Lytham, it became an equal. Fred Hawtree significantly remodelled the course making substantial changes, particularly to the back nine.


Hillside Golf Club

7029 yards

From the black tees the course at Hillside measures 7029 yards, meandering through majestic sandhills and tranquil pinewoods. Many of the holes have elevated tees with fantastic views over the Irish Sea.

The clubhouse at Hillside offers facilities comparable in quality to those experienced on the course. This kind of terrain is not everyone’s idea of an idyllic theatre for golf, but it is undeniably memorable. If you like edge-of-the-seat views and awesome tee shots, you will love Hillside.

The changes in elevation amplify the tricky landscape while there is also a nice feeling of isolation once you start to walk along the sheltered natural valleys and into the amphitheatres.

A round of golf at Hillside is a truly memorable experience and many visitors consider the course equal to anything the Open Championship venues have to offer. You would never know what’s in store looking down the first hole, but soon the golf gets exciting indeed.

The layout of the course is balanced in two halves with the opening holes heading southwestward along the flat ground beside the railway line. Routed in two returning loops of nine, the front nine initially wends its way out alongside the train line, which slices the links of Hillside and S&A, out to the fifth green before turning back to the clubhouse.

The flatter nine holes of the opening half whet the golfer’s appetite for the contrast that awaits on second nine. The first nine holes are perfectly manicured with exceptional fairways and putting surfaces. It’s a tactical opening.

You must plot your way round with care and attention. The subtleties include some excellently sited green complexes with clever greenside bunkering. There is often further design work adding to an already stunning layout.

Whereas the front nine is challenging to score well the back nine is where the course comes to life. Each hole is potentially an improvement on the previous one with stunning views on offer from the elevated tees. The course will challenge all aspects of your game and playing the course well will give you a real boost.

Here you will find valleyed corridors through some of the highest and wildest dunes found anywhere. Each hole occupying its own unique site is never shared with another. You won’t believe how spectacular the Hillside Golf Club back nine is. Compared with its neighbour Royal Birkdale is, it is not unusual to hear someone say that they think Hillside Golf Club is the better course.

Elevated tees on the run in provide wonderful views to the Lake District in the north and Snowdonia in the south, but these shouldn’t distract from the sheer quality of the holes. It is a superb links course with an incredible back nine. Recent changes have really elevated the offering and over time, it will only get better.

Hillside is an unusual link in that many of the holes are framed by mature pine trees. The towering dunes that line the fairways, particularly on the back nine, are long established and the thick rough that covers them is brutal in places.

As the course transitions from modest sandhills to monumental dunes you are continually moved towards different points of the compass. Traversing this part of the course can feel like wandering through some of the great Irish links, such is the wild looking nature and feel.

However, here we almost exclusively play through the valleys; from elevated tees to flattish fairways and up to raised greens. The sand dunes rise, the terrain gets more rugged and the views are something you’ll never forget.

You rarely, if ever, have to go cross-country and traverse the sandhills which means each hole is perfectly framed. As you would expect from championship links the fairway bunkering is spot on throughout. A number of the fairways also kink, bend or in some cases significantly turn which also adds to the difficulty. Whatever strategy you choose Hillside is a solid test of golf.


Hole by Hole description and suggestions.


Hole 1

396 yards, par 4, index 9 

A flattish hole where the trains run so close to the tee that you can see the passengers as they flash by. It continues tight to the railway. You need to thread your tee shot between some newly created dunes and the railway which  dominates the left hand side of the hole. There are bunkers scattered down the fairway. Avoid them and the approach can be quite straightforward.

Hole 2 

526 yards, par 5, index 5

The second has bunkers and a brook to negotiate from the tee before threading your ball through a corridor of bunkers on the right to reach the green. The railway still features as out of bounds to the left. The green is slippery, sloping from back to front with bunkers protecting left and right.

Hole 3 

397 yards, par 4, index 13

On the tee decide to lay up short of bunkers or take on the dog leg. which has a ditch across the fairway that comes into play with the wind behind you. The green is well-protected with bunkers left and a pond right at about 300 yards. A conservative well positioned drive can set up a short iron shot to this tricky green.

Hole 4 

195 yards, par 3, index 15 

The long green is completely surrounded by bunkers. In a prevailing wind, this becomes a very tough hole.  McKenzie and Ebert have added sandy wasteland to the hole and redesigned the bunkering in 2009 improving this hole immeasurably.

Hole 5

562 yards, par 5, index 7 

This hole asks plenty of questions from the tee. It is well bunkered and demands an accurate approach with dunes left and right. The second shot is daunting where the fairway narrows between two dunes. The choice is to go with a wood for green or to lay up. Re-designed in 2002 by Donald Steel it can yield birdies, but can also be a card wrecker.

Hole 6

444 yards, par 4, index 1

A tough hole often played into a left to right wind. A precise drive is needed. It has an undulating fairway with the approach shot uphill to a well-protected green.

Hole 7

170 yards, par 3, index 17 

An uncomplicated hole which culminates on a green framed by tall pines at the back. There are dunes to the left and rear of the hole and bunkers around the green. It is more difficult if pin is forward

Hole 8 

393 yards, par 4, index 3

A dog leg right tee shot but do not attempt to bite off more of the dogleg than you should and avoid the bunkers on the left. It requires an accurate approach and anything short of this green will gather towards the right hand greenside bunkers.

Hole 9

419 yards, par 4, index 11

An interesting par four with a split fairway. Do not try to drive over the road onto the second portion of fairway as the carry is almost 300 yards. The approach requires a medium to long iron to a well bunkered green protected by five bunkers. You may prefer to ignore this somewhat precarious shot and lay up.


The following nine holes are all set into dramatic sand dunes.

Hole 10 

172 yards, par 3, index 10

This famous hole plays uphill to a secluded, narrow and undulating green set amongst dunes and tall pine trees. It provides a gateway to the dunes with its raised and tilted green embedded in a dune. It slopes back to front with four very adjacent pot bunkers and run off areas. The front of the green is very slick. Into the prevailing wind finding the green is a notable achievement.

Hole 11

509 yards, par 5, index 6

On the tee the fairway is 100 feet or so below you. It allows you to look down across the entirety of the hole, several others, parts of Birkdale and even the Lake District on a clear day. A truly sensational hole which curves around the dunes before rising gradually to a fabulous green with trees behind it. It is a reachable par five that dog legs left.

A well struck drive to a dune flanked fairway will tempt big hitters to go for the raised two-tier green in two, but the risk is the cavernous bunker on the right. It is a stern test that is often played into the wind with a tough green to read.

Hole 12 

400 yards, par 4, index 16

A gentle dog leg right over water to an almost drivable hole but the short approach is very difficult. The water hazard has been remodelled recently and is now a big feature of this hole. A fairly short iron to a very slick green follows but there is a lack of straight putts on this one!

Hole 13

401 yards, par 4, index 2 

This superb uphill par four from an elevated tee is a brute into the wind. The approach is severely uphill so consider taking an extra club up to the elevated green. Tall sand dunes surround the hole and give you a marvellous sense of isolation.

Hole 14 

419 yards, par 4, index 14 

There is a magnificent view all around from the tee. The Lake District and Blackpool Tower to the North, Snowdonia to the South and the backdrop to your drive is the fells of East Lancashire. It is an opportunity before the final strong finish.

Hole 15 

421 yards, par 4, index 4

There is a sharp dog-leg with the elbow at about 250 yards. Accuracy off the tee is essential with bunkers across the fairway to be avoided. A safer shot to the right leaves longer approach. It's a pretty approach to this green which is surrounded by sand dunes.

An entertaining finish is guaranteed over the final three holes Into the wind a three par finish over these closing three holes is some accomplishment.

Hole 16

218 yards, par 3, index 18

This is an excellent long and sometimes brutal par three often played down wind. It is played straight uphill to a massive two-tiered green that is deep and tough, set at a slight angle to the line of play with no bunkers. If you get on the wrong tier and you will struggle with a two putt.

Hole 17

547 yards, par 5, index 8

This is an exceptional par five and visually impressive. A difficult drive with a ditch on the right and lots of bunkers down the fairway. The elevated tee sweeps down into the fairway and then the hole rises sharply towards a distant green.

Think about the extra club and into the wind it will be an absolute monster. You play it all through the natural amphitheatre of those wonderful dunes. It is a true three shot hole, even when played downwind. Just over the out of bounds to the left is Royal Birkdale's 18th hole.

Hole 18 

439 yards, par 4, index 12 

A nice elevated tee gives you a good view of this drive. It is a tough finishing hole back down to the clubhouse. From tee there are four fairway bunkers covering the centre and right of the fairway to contend with. It is a left to right dog leg to a green well protected by deep pot bunkers.

The fairway bunkers have recently been remodelled and a drive that is placed just short of them gives you the best chance of making this green in two. Deep greenside bunkers protect this green.

Ask our expert. Ask our expert
~ Ask our expert ~
Adrian Stanley Hi, I'm Adrian. Do you have any questions about planning your trip?
This field is required
This field is required
This field is required
Thanks. We'll answer soon.

Worldwide: +44 (0) 131 356 0771
USA / Canada: 1-888-529-2448

AGS Golf Vacations Reviews with ekomi.co.uk