Royal Birkdale Golf Course Review

The course has hosted The Open eight times and its Art Deco-style clubhouse is a famous landmark in the area. Many top professionals regarded it as the finest course on the Open rota.

The course is a formidable 7,180 yards, but visitors play it from the yellow tees at 6,381 yards - it is not a lot easier from there. 

The wind, whistling down the fairways when it comes from the sea, adds to the challenge. Each hole runs through high dunes, the fairways are generally flat and from the tee there is generally a decent view of the hole ahead.

You need to be on your toes right from the off. The opening hole is as tough as they come, a 450-yard par 4 with a ditch on the right and a bunker on the left. The fairway is undulating and the rough is full of humps and hollows, not to mention gorse bushes and a large mound on the right. Walk off with a five and you should be delighted.

Things don't get much easier on the 2nd. Another par 4, this time measuring 418 yards. It is a slight dogleg left, usually played into the wind. Avoid the bunkers on the right and make sure that you have enough club to carry another trap short of the green. There are four mounds in the right rough.

The 6th is a par 5 measuring just 488 yards. Despite that, it is regarded as the toughest hole on the links. Everywhere you look, there is danger. The fairway is relatively narrow and there are bunkers on both sides at driving range. To make matters worse, if you have a go in two you are playing to a large, elevated green that is protected by two bunkers, and is surrounded by dunes.

The 12th, which can measure anything from 159 to 181 yards, is one of the finest short holes in golf. A small green is guarded by four bunkers and is surrounded by punishing rough.

The 13th measure 433 yards and, from the tee, looks pretty scary. There are eight fairway bunkers to be negotiated and three more around the green surrounded by sand dunes.

The 370-yard 16th features a plaque in the right-hand rough to mark a tremendous recovery shot played in dreadful conditions by Arnold Palmer on the way to his Open win 1961.

The 17th is a 527-yard par 5 where many Opens have been won and lost. The green is located between two huge mounds and a well-struck second shot will often roll onto the putting surface and open up a rare eagle opportunity. It was here that Lee Trevino chipped in from the back of the green to break Tony Jacklin's heart in The Open in 1971.

At 472 yards, and with out of bounds on the right, thick rough and pot bunkers, the 18th hole requires a very demanding drive. Three further bunkers protect the green.

Royal Birkdale

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Derek Clements

Author, Derek Clements

Derek Clements is a golf journalist - he has covered many Open Championships and European Tour events, as well as The Masters. Born in Glasgow, he writes for The Sunday Times and Golfshake, and has also written for Today's Golfer, the Daily Mail, Swing by Swing and many other golf websites, magazines and newspapers. He has played golf all over the world and numbers Gleneagles, Kingsbarns and Aldeburgh as his three favourite golf courses in the United Kingdom. He lives in Suffolk, is a member of Waldringfield Golf Club and has a handicap of nine. He had lessons from the late Bob Torrance and has worked with Jean-Jacques Rivet, one of the world's leading golf biomechanists.