The Clubhouse

Best golf courses in North West England

England’s best destination for golf…?! Check out the best golf courses in the north west of England.

Elena Hall
Elena Hall
10 mins read
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Whilst Scotland and Ireland might grab more of the headlines, for our money, England more than packs a punch when it comes to great golf. And nowhere is that more true than in the North West of the country – often known as England’s Golf Coast.

In addition to some standout Major Championship venues, there are a plethora of great Links layouts, with some of the finest holes on the planet found on this stretch of land. Don’t believe us? Check out some of the best golf courses in north-west England below!

1. Royal Birkdale

We’ll jump right in with arguably the jewel in the crown of this region. Royal Birkdale frequently fights it out with Royal St George’s at the top of English golf course rankings, and it’s easy to see why. From the doglegged first tee shot, through to the finish in front of the iconic Art Deco clubhouse, there are few rounds that you’ll remember quite as well as those played at Birkdale.

We also love its playability when compared to some of the other Championship courses in the area. Sure, it’s tough from the back tees, but there’s a good mix of shorter holes too, and several scorable par 5’s which all marry to make a wonderful day out. It’s simply a course that every golfer should experience.

Royal Birkdale facts

Length: - Back tees: 7156 yards - Front tees: 5793 yards Par: 70 Architect: Donald Steel, Tom MacKenzie, Martin Ebert, Fred G. Hawtree, Fred Hawtree, Martin Hawtree, John Henry Taylor and Ken Moodie Founded: 1897 Course type: Links

Royal Birkdale

2. Royal Lytham

Remember when we said we loved Birkdale for its universal enjoyability? The same is not something frequently associated with Royal Lytham. A daunting par 3 first hole, followed by several testing par 4’s (and roughly one million bunkers!) ensures you’re on your game from the start. However, we can think of few courses that can be so rewarding.

Playing smartly around Lytham’s awesome bunkering can bring a huge sense of satisfaction, and if you catch the wind on the right day, its firm turf can see you hitting your drives for miles! It’s a brilliant test of golf and happens to be one with some of the most bonkers memories from The Open in years gone by.

Ian Woosnam with the extra club? Royal Lytham. Seve from the car park? Royal Lytham. Gary Player from the side of the clubhouse? You guessed it! Ernie Els snatching a last-gasp victory from his great friend Adam Scott? Once again, it was Royal Lytham that provided the backdrop for the sensational drama.

Royal Lytham

Length: - Back tees: 6713 yards - Front tees: 5854 yards Par: 70 Architect: H. S. Colt, Tom MacKenzie, Martin Ebert, Tom Simpson, European Golf Design and Herbert Fowler Founded: 1987 Course type: Links style

Royal Lytham & St Annes

3. Royal Liverpool

Generally known to most as ‘Hoylake’, Royal Liverpool is another mainstay of The Open rota and an easy addition to our top golf courses in the northwest list. Recent years have seen some reworking of several holes; most notably the par-3 ‘Little Eye’, which now features a huge false front. Some of the course’s land was once used as a racetrack, hence the flatter terrain close to the clubhouse, before the layout meanders into the dunes around the turn.

Don’t for a moment think that the inland holes are without character though. The first tee shot (played as the 3rd in The Open) is one of the most iconic in all of golf, with a 90-degree dogleg that hugs the internal bounds which house the driving range. Hoylake is one of the most welcoming courses on The Open rota and is a fabulous golfing day out.

Past winners of The Open here include Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, with the latter famously relying on a 2-iron (stinger) for much of his tee shots during his 2006 victory; something that makes much more sense in the middle of summer, than it might do when playing in a cool autumn breeze!

Royal Liverpool facts

Length: - Back tees: 7341 yards - Front tees: 5847 yards Par: 72 Architect: Donald Steel, Tom MacKenzie, Martin Ebert, George Morris, Cameron Sinclair, Martin Hawtree and Marc Westenborg Founded: 1869 Course type: Links style

Royal Liverpool

4. Hillside

There’s a double-edged sword to the terrain on which Hillside is laid out. On one hand, it is home to some of the best stretches of golf on the planet – the 11th tee shot is one of the best in the sport. However, it’s also flanked by Royal Birkdale to the left of its 17th hole, meaning that it may not have got the recognition that it deserved in years gone by.

Modern times have sought to change that, with the venue hosting several European Tour events, as well as undergoing a renovation of its slightly more subdued opening holes. The current Hillside is as strong a course as you’ll play, and although prices have increased alongside the club’s reputation, it can still be enjoyed for less than the ‘Royal’ courses in the region … and is just as much fun as its bigger brothers!

Hillside facts

Length: - Back tees: 7029 yards - Front tees: 5888 yards Par: 72 Architect: Fred Hawtree, Donald Steel and Jonathan Tucker Founded: 1923 Course type: Links style

1st hole at Hillside Golf Club

5. Formby

Formby is a course unlike any other. It begins to the right of an imposing clubhouse, flanked by trees. The turf here is especially spectacular; with a unique ‘spring’ to its linksland fairways. The opening holes give the impression of calm elegance – perhaps a touch more protected than some of the wilder links in the area. However, towards the end of the front nine something changes, and you’re transported into a rugged landscape, overlooking the sea.

From there, the next few holes require a true links strategy, playing the ball in low, and avoiding dastardly pot bunkers. Just as you feel like the wind has finally whipped you into submission, the course again turns to the tranquillity of the trees.

Playing towards that grand clubhouse is akin to turning back from the ocean towards the safety of a lighthouse. The course has hosted some of the biggest Amateur tournaments in the game, but keeps most of its play for members, guests, and visitors, meaning that it might not have the international name recognition of others. However, you’d be foolish to overlook it when putting together a golf trip to the Northwest. Indeed, it’s a course that’s strong enough in its own right to build an itinerary around.

Formby facts

Length: - Back tees: - Front tees: Par: 72 Architect: Willie Park, James Braid, Hawtree Ltd, Donald Steel, H. S. Colt, Tom MacKenzie, Martin Ebert and Frank Pennink Founded: 1884 Course type: Links style

11th hole at Formby Golf Club

7. West Lancashire

The links at West Lancashire offer the chance to be immensely grateful for modern technology. Like many others on this list, a railway runs down the side of the course, and early golfers would have taken on West Lancs in a suit jacket and tie, armed only with their set of hickories and a helpful caddie.

Given the strength of this course in the modern age, it’s seemingly unfathomable that anybody would have ever broken 100! It’s a layout that’s dictated by the conditions of the day. On the rare calm afternoons, there are birdies to enjoy. But the minute that the regular breeze returns West Lancs offers perhaps the truest form of links golf in the Northwest. No real trickery, and fewer changes in elevation than most, mean that the course is generally there in front of you. All you’ve got to do is tame it … good luck!

West Lancashire facts

Length: - Back tees: 7016 yards - Front tees: 5849 yards Par: 72 Architect: Donald Steel, Tom MacKenzie, Martin Ebert, Charles Kenneth Cotton and James Braid Founded: 1873 Course type: Links style

The West Lancashire Golf Club

8. Southport & Ainsdale

Royal Birkdale and Hillside share their waterfront linksland with another fantastic layout; Southport & Ainsdale. The course isn’t as grandiose as its neighbours, which can make it even more enjoyable! There’s a little more quirk to S&A (as it’s often known), with a unique heathland/links-style mixture of holes. But don’t be fooled, it is no less of a challenge, particularly when the wind whips in off the Irish Sea.

The Ryder Cup was hosted here in both 1933 and 1937, and the venue continues to act as a qualifying venue for The Open. All in, it’s an excellent addition to any trip to this stretch of coastline, and a three-day venture playing S&A, Hillside, and Royal Birkdale is easily doable without the need for a car! Ideal for those getting the train to the region.

Southport & Ainsdale facts

Length: - Back tees: 6848 yards - Front tees: 5670 yards Par: 72 Architect: James Braid, Donald Steel, Tom MacKenzie, Martin Ebert, Cameron Sinclair and Marc Westenborg Founded: 1925 Course type: Links style

Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club

9. Wallasey Golf Club

The home of Stableford. Here, Dr Frank Stableford decided that he was sick of his score being ruined by Wallasey’s difficult second hole and set about creating a new way of scoring the game that could ensure golfers had something to play for until the last putt dropped. It’s not difficult to see why Dr Frank decided that something had to be done, with Wallasey another course that asks some serious tests of the golfer.

It does this while also serving up some of the best views on the coastline; notably from the iconic 4th tee box. Golfers over the past century should be immensely grateful to Stableford, particularly as it means that all can still be engaged on Wallasey’s unique 18th hole; 400 yards of the most undulating fairway you’re ever likely to play, hitting back towards the bustling terrace. It's a nervy shot on a quiet day, even more so if there’s a crowd gathered behind the green!

Wallasey facts

Length: - Back tees: 6649 facts - Front tees: 5777 yards Par: 72 Architect: Old Tom Morris, James Braid, Hawtree Ltd, Donald Steel and John Henry Taylor Founded: 1892 Course type: Links style

Wallasey Golf Club

10. Caldy Golf Club

Our final stop in this area takes us to the end of The Wirral. Caldy Golf Club is another past qualifying course for The Open and is known for its continual pursuit of immaculate conditioning. The links ground has always drained well here, and the addition of USGA-spec greens over recent seasons has seen the putting services stay in an excellent state of playability throughout the year.

One of the more scenic routings in the area, Caldy takes the golfer out to the edge of the River Dee. Like its neighbours on this list, Caldy has been around for more than a century, with a close membership offering a hugely warm welcome for all that visit.

Caldy Golf Club facts

Length: - Back tees: 6715 yards - Front tees: 5783 yards Par: 72 Architect: James Braid, Donald Steel and Cameron Sinclair Founded: 1907 Course type: Links

Caldy Golf Club

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Elena Hall

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