It has many fine courses including Open Championship hosting Royal Birkdale as well as a strong supporting act of other championship venues such as Hillside, Southport & Ainsdale, Formby and Hesketh.
At the other end of the scale, in terms of both quality and price, you have Southport Golf Links or ‘Southport Muni’ as it is often referred to. The course is open to the public as a ‘pay and play’, run by Sefton Council, but it is also home to the Park, Alt and Southport Ladies Golf Clubs.
The course was originally opened in 1912, the first municipal in England, as a 9 hole course on reclaimed land bordering the Irish Sea. During the 1930's more land was reclaimed and it was extended to an 18 hole course. The council state they have invested heavily in the golf course to meet the challenges of new golf club and ball technology.
I simply rocked up at 4.30pm on a Monday evening in late-September, happily paid my £10.70 green-fee (it would have been £7 after 5.30pm) and was round all 18 holes in a swift 90 minutes.
Driving from the south along the coastal road you pass through the Ainsdale and Birkdale sandhills and the anticipation rises with the hope that this course, laid out by Harry Colt, will be played through some of these. Sadly it isn’t and the course is quite flat and fairly open with a few ponds and ditches acting as the main hazards.
With so many great courses in the vicinity it’s difficult to recommend a play at Southport Golf Links to somebody visiting from outside the region and seeking the best Southport has to offer but I suspect if you live in the surrounding area it makes for truly excellent value golf on an ad-hoc basis or as a member of one of the attached clubs. It would also make a great venue for a junior to learn his trade and likewise if you are a non-serious golfer holidaying in Southport and fancy a game this would be a good option.
The course was in decent condition for the time of year with the greens putting nicely although they were particularly spongy and not really links-like. They were certainly receptive and looked like they had been heavily watered, however, they ran true and were nicely paced. The rest of the course was in similar condition, surprisingly soft and green in most places albeit very firm and brown in others! However, for the most part it played more parkland than links style.
There’s a good mix of holes with some notable strong par fours, especially on the front nine, whilst the back-nine plays shorter and offers a few more birdie chances. The second is a particularly stern hole at 415 yards uphill and has a burn to restrict longer hitters from the tee. The par five fourth is also worthy of mention with a wooden sleepered ‘wall’ to cross with your blind approach. Holes 10 and 11 are both driveable par fours, but not without their dangers, and there are three two-shotters over the 400-yard mark in the final seven holes.
The green complexes are a lot more interesting on the inward half with a number having steep tiers in them which makes the approaches much more interesting compared to some of the flatter ones on the front nine.
I enjoyed my one and a half hours at Southport Golf Links and whilst I won’t rush to return I can see why it’s a popular retreat for locals seeking superb value golf in this popular holiday destination.
The game of golf has the ability to take you on amazing journeys to the most wondrous places where you meet such interesting people.
It was an impulsive, crazy… and some would say utterly ridiculous… decision that took me to The Machrie in the Spring of 2018.