Wallasey Golf Club
- Par 72
- 6572 Yds
Stand on the 2nd tee at Wallasey when a south-westerly is whipping across the Wirral from North Wales and it is easy to understand why it was here that the Stableford system of scoring was born.
Measuring over 460 yards from the elevated and exposed back tee, with wild duneland either side of a fairway that curves right and to a distant green, it is a hole than end a medal round almost before it has started.
Dr Frank Stableford, a former captain of the club, despaired so much of his chances of making it through the opening run of holes that play into the prevailing wind with a score intact that he invented his new system of scoring in 1931.
We should all raise a glass to him.
Dr Stableford is only part of the club’s almost peerless heritage. Located within a couple of miles of Liverpool city centre, yet separated from it by the width of the Mersey, golf has been played here since the late 19th century.
It was originally laid out by Old Tom Morris but coastal erosion and drifting sand have caused several re-designs over the years and now only four of his original green complexes remain.
In the following century, the likes of Sandy Herd, Harold Hilton, James Braid and Fred Hawtree (the first three all Open champions) left their mark on the course, which is now owned by the club to guarantee its long-term future.
And in 1930 it was here that the great Bobby Jones pre-qualified for the Open Championship at nearby Royal Liverpool, en route to claiming the second leg of his fabled Grand Slam.
There is every chance that Wallasey would be even better known if it were not flanked by quite so many exceptional courses. On the Wirral alone there is Hoylake and Caldy, while the distinguished likes of West Lancs, Formby, Hillside, Birkdale and Lytham lie to the north. Small wonder the area is known as England’s Golf Coast.
With its traditional clubhouse and a view from it down the uneven 18th fairway that is a delight on a sunny evening, it is easy to see just what kind of a course Wallasey is without even having hit a shot.
After a 1st hole that takes you from the very walls of the clubhouse towards the estuary, any sense of claustrophobia is immediately dispelled.
The run from here to the 6th is matched only by the final four holes.
Imposing dunes and elevated tees are the dominating themes – not to mention an unrelenting headwind.
The most spectacular view is undoubtedly from the tee on the par-five 4th, with the fairway stretching out way below and the sea to the right.
Inevitably, there is a slight sense on anti-climax on reaching the flatter land the middle holes occupy. This is not to say the golf is anything less than worthy, only that it is less thrilling.
The pace quickens again after a pair of par fives that play in opposite directions, meaning that on any given day one is a birdie chance and other effectively a four-shotter for most.
The 15th doglegs left and uphill to a raised green while the next is a not-so-short hole of the highest quality played to a target of a ledge, framed by a dune on the right and dropping away to the left.
Then comes the 17th, where you can play left towards the 4th fairway if you are prepared for a longer second. Aim at the marker post and trust that the green is located underneath it in a dell.
On the last, you must play unerringly towards the clubhouse, across rough and uneven ground to a green that is remarkably flat considering what has gone before it.
Assisted by the breeze, a closing par four is by no means unattainable, perhaps even one worth three points.
And then you must thank Dr Stableford, because your totting up your points total, however modest it is, is surely a more pleasant job than recording every last stroke at what remains a supremely challenging links.