Southport & Ainsdale lies a few miles outside Southport heading south along the A565. Of the town’s three famous courses it’s actually the furthest away from the centre. A gorgeous piece of rolling links land effectively sharing the same turf at Hillside and Birkdale. It’s not exactly in-land but you never get close enough to see the sea. There’s a railway line between the coast and the course.
The opening par 3 is a fantastic introduction but the 2nd is a wonderful rolling par-5 framed by dunes on the left and heather and gorse down the right.
Everything is laid out in front of you from the tee box but you really have to plot your way carefully up along the left, avoiding the bunkers as you go. Once you make it to the green there’s still plenty of work to do with severe undulation in places.
After making it through the trauma of the 16th – where you play a blind second shot over the top of a 20ft high bank of sleepers called the Gumbleys -the elevated tee shot on 17 offers the best views of the course.
There are quite a few blind shots, but I was lucky enough to be accompanied by an experienced caddie called Steve who expertly guided me round.
Purchasing a course guide or downloading a flyover map are well worth doing if you’re playing Southport & Ainsdale for the first time. It sounds daft but knowing where you are going is the key to not losing too many balls here.