I had been to Southport several times before because I have always enjoyed my stay in this most traditional of Victorian seaside resorts, but I had never visited to play golf! I have recently discovered that Southport is home to the UK’s highest concentration of championship links courses, so it is the perfect location for a golfing holiday, no matter what your handicap!
The Royal Birkdale Golf Club is of course the most prestigious course along the Golf Coast. It is the jewel in the crown of Southport’s golfing heritage and is widely regarded as the best links course in England and is a regular host to The Open Championship.
But Southport’s reputation for being the centre of the Golf Coast is not based solely on Royal Birkdale; it boasts several more championship courses within 15/30 mins drive of Southport which is why it is regarded as ‘England’s Golfing Capital’. Hillside, Formby, Hesketh, Southport & Ainsdale are all superb courses, challenging even the most accomplished golfer.
I was going to play at Hesketh Golf Club, the oldest golf club in Southport, established one hundred & thirty seven years ago in 1885. Hesketh was just five minutes away from the Vincent Hotel on Lord Street, where I was staying the night.
The Hesketh Golf Club is a part links and parkland course set amongst the Victorian villas of a residential area at the northern end of the South West Lancashire’s sand dune system. It was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1989 sitting alongside a nationally renowned nature reserve so spotting a range of seabirds and other wildlife including the rare Sand Lizard can provide an added attraction for visitors.
The Hesketh Golf Club is regularly chosen as a Qualifying venue when The Open is played at Royal Birkdale and the club has hosted County Championships, National Championships, and many top events in women’s golf. These include the Lancashire Amateur Open, the Lancashire Ladies’ Amateur Open and the British Senior Amateur Championship.
The Hesketh Golf Club provides some challenging holes & and is a very pleasant course to visit. The course has everything from fairways which appear to have been cut directly through the dunes to flat well bunkered holes which have been given some shelter from the wind. It is very much a mix of links and parkland fairways. My very first tee shot went off into the abundant rough somewhere never to be seen again! Such is links golf! I was careful not to skew my shot to the left so avoiding diners sitting outside on the terrace of the club house!
‘Hesketh is a lovely course and very narrow in parts so make sure your tee shot is straight off the tee and avoid the rough at all costs! I thought the 14th was very intimidating with three huge pot bunkers protecting the green.My wife who is a much better golfer than me!
The clubhouse is a very attractive building sitting on the crest of a sand hill overlooking the course and surrounding areas. After the golf my wife & I had lunch there and we were made to feel very welcome by the staff including some very polite young men & women. I was intrigued to see `The Captain’s Chair` but my wife could not find ‘The Ladies Captains Chair’ anywhere! The Bentley Room was full of unique memorabilia including the Hitler Trophy!
In 1936 Hesketh golfer Arnold Bentley was a member of the England team that won a golf tournament at the Berlin Olympics which was supposed to highlight German superiority but in fact put a huge dent in the Nazi propaganda machine. I unfortunately missed seeing the Fir tree or `Hitler Tree` on which I was told members relieved themselves for many years!
Hesketh Golf Club provided my wife & I with an entertaining & challenging day of golf followed by a pleasant lunch & refreshments in the smart and attractive Club House. On my next visit to Southport, I will be sure to check out the Hesketh Golf Club once again, it is an excellent well run golf club with warm, friendly staff, not forgetting the professional staff in the Pro-Shop!
My wife & I really enjoyed our day of golf at the Hesketh Golf Club and would fully recommend a visit to golfers visiting the Golf Coast & Southport. It should certainly form part of any golfing trip to Southport. I am already looking forward to my next visit to this glorious seaside town.
HESKETH GOLF CLUB – Cockle Dick’s Lane, Southport, PR9 9QQ