Royal Birkdale has become the very first Open Championship venue in England to obtain the GolfMark; awarded by the English Golf Union.
GolfMark is a national scheme which finds and acknowledges junior and beginner-friendly golf facilities. This recognition means that Royal Birkdale is now able to improve its practice and coaching facilities for beginners through the funding provided by GolfMark.
Like all courses that host major events, the 18th green at Wentworth has been often televised and is familiar to golfing fans all over the world. Not any more! Not only are the strategically placed bunkers still there, but a water feature has added to the drama of the final hole. Owner, Richard Caring, impressed by such an element on most other major courses, decided that this was lacking at Wentworth. Although his course manager, Chris Kennedy, and the course architect, Ernie Els, were dubious that it was a good idea for this particular course, they gave it a go. The result is a man-made ‘burn’ running through a group of pot bunkers in front of the green and resulting in a far more testing finish. This is just the most striking of a number of changes to the course, especially the last five holes, and any golfer who thinks he knows his way around will have to think again!
By Yvonne Shaw. Yvonne has been with PerryGolf for over 10 years and is a member of our admin team.
The North West of England is one of the best kept secret golfing destinations in Europe and has often been described as the ‘Finest Stretch of Championship Golf in the World’. This is no idle boast for an area that can offer three Open Championship venues and no fewer than seven of the top rated courses in the UK and Ireland.
Why therefore, I hear you ask, has this area been overlooked for so long?
The main reason is that the local accommodation has not been up to the same standard as the magnificent golf available. I am pleased to tell you, however, this is no longer the case and that this area is now officially open for business!
On a recent trip to the area I sampled many of the newly built and refurbished properties on offer. I would like to tell you about the following as some recommended examples you should consider if playing and staying in the area:
The Vincent opened its doors in June 2008 – a unique and chic hotel for the North West of England. Situated on Lord Street, the Vincent takes comfort and service to a new level – all within a fresh and modern environment.
The Ramada Plaza Hotel offers luxury city centre style hotel accommodation in the hub of Southport.
With fantastic panoramic views of the coast and ease-of-access to some of the most acclaimed Championship golf courses in the country, it’s worth considering. Also only two minutes from Lord Street, it’s only a short walk to the famous shops and boutiques.
Formby Hall Golf Resort & Spa offers the ultimate golf resort, spa and luxury hotel experience. The resort underwent a £15million refurbishment in 2008 and provides a golf course that is well-known on the European Challenge Tour, an notable golf instruction school facility and the 1st PGA National Residential Academy in the UK.
By Jonny Ferguson. Jonny has worked with PerryGolf for over 2 years and is one of our Golf Travel Specialists.
Royal Birkdale is one of the best courses on the planet and is consistently ranked in the top 30 courses in the world. It has hosted the Open Championship on 7 occasions, most recently in 2008 when Padraig Harrington was victorious.
During a recent familiarization visit to England’s Golf Coast (North West England), my colleague and I were very kindly given courtesy of the course by the club committee. Even though we were a week into December, the course was still playable and the greens, though slow, were very true. Royal Birkdale have winter tees which come into play between the end of September and the beginning of April – with the course measuring around 6,200 yards with these in play. This was more than enough golf course to keep my colleague and I occupied during our round as there was also a steady 25mph wind to contend with. One thing I noticed about the course was the amount of subtle breaks on the greens; this coupled with the wind made putting very difficult. I don’t claim to be a good putter, but putting on true greens in the middle of December was a joy and I have to say I holed my fair share of putts en-route to a 4 and 2 victory. Sorry Keith.
I found the course to be quite demanding from the tees, not from a distance point of view, but from an accuracy perspective. Onus is definitely placed on precise tee-shots to allow for easier approach shots to the heavily guarded greens. Some of which don’t have many bunkers but have defense in the form of severe run-offs. I also suspect that it would be a rarity to play the course on a calm day which adds to the importance of accuracy. Even from the softer winter tees we were given the opportunity to appreciate the course as most of the tees are positioned in line with the summer tees. We also took the chance to have a look at some of the championship tees which were pretty daunting to say the least.
My favorite hole on the course has to be the par 5 17th. This is the hole where Harrington hit a 5 wood to about 5 feet in the Open Championship last year, undoubtedly one of the best approach shots to a par 5 I have ever seen in my life. Unfortunately I couldn’t emulate Harrington’s magic and had to make do with a bogey 6, but this didn’t take away from the fact that the hole is an absolute cracker.
A must play course for anyone staying in the North West of England. This is usually number 1 on the list of courses but there are many other great courses in the area and a week long stay can be filled with 7 or 8 top class links courses.
By Gary Sheppard. Gary has worked for PerryGolf for over 3 years and is one of our Golf Travel Specialists.