Royal Liverpool Golf Course Review

Royal Liverpool, or Hoylake as it is more commonly known, has only recently been restored to The Open roster. The layout used when Rory McIlroy won there in 2014 varies slightly from the way that visitors and members play the course. The Open starts on the 17th and finishes on the 16th.

It is a course that has changed to meet the challenges of the modern game. For instance, the green on the 17th was redesigned in 2010 and is now 40 yards from front to back, with run-off areas on either side. Since 2006, 14 bunkers have been removed, leaving 82 in total.

Hoylake measures just 6,907 yards. It has a par of 72 but, tellingly, the standard scratch is a formidable 75. Break your handicap around this links and you can leave for your hotel knowing you have played really, really well. When Tiger Woods won The Open here in 2006 he used his driver once in four days, but the fairways were baked hard after weeks of glorious weather. You will need your driver!

Take the 1st hole for example. It is a par 4 that stretches out to 427 yards and is often played into the wind. The hole is a dogleg with out of bounds on the right. Push your drive too far right and you will be on the practice ground, and hitting three off the tee. The thing is that you need to go as far right as possible to reduce the length of your second shot. A swale to the left of the green is waiting to push your approach even further off line.

The 3rd is a 528-yard par 5 and, once again, finding the right position from the tee is vital. There is gorse on the left that is to be avoided at all costs. Ideally, the drive should be played to the right of the fairway, missing the bunkers that are waiting to gobble up your ball. The hole has a two-tier green and if you end up on the green level, the chances are that you will take three putts.

Next comes a heart-in-the mouth par 3. It is bad enough that it measures 201 yards, but it is also surrounded by deep bunkers. If nothing else, you should do what it takes to clear the bunker at the front of the green as it is a potential card-wrecker. The green slopes from right to left, so always aim right of the pin.

You should be getting the picture by now.

The 8th is another par 5, measuring 532 yards. It is a straight hole and should offer a birdie chance if you manage to stay out of the bunker that protects the front-right side of the green. Get in there and you may never be seen again. There is some respite to be had at the 391-yard 9th hole, a straightforward par 4 to a green guarded by two bunkers. An added bonus is the view of the Dee Estuary from the tee.

The 454-yard 12th is a brute of a hole. It is a dogleg left and there are bunkers on both sides of the dogleg. If there is a following wind, the best strategy is to try to carry the bunkers on the left. If you can pull it off you shorten the hole and open up the green.

During The Open, the 551-yard, par 5, 16th was played as the closing hole. Rory McIlroy famously had an eagle to close out his third round, but most people will settle for a par. Once again, the practice ground on the right is out of bounds on this dogleg, therefore the perfect drive is as close to the dogleg as possible. If you are going for the green in two you need to keep clear of the bunkers at the front of the putting surface.

At 454 yards, the 18th is a terrific finishing hole. Bunkers on both sides of the fairway mean you need to be straight off the tee. The flag is often tucked away behind the bunkers that protect the green. The best policy is to aim for the middle and take your chances.

Royal Liverpool

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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.