Area guide: Southport, England
Southport & Ainsdale
Keep moving south and you’ll be at S&A in minutes. This two-time Ryder Cup venue hosted the matches in 1933 and 1937 yet rarely seems to gain recognition as a two-time host.
In contrast to Hillside, S&A largely plays over gently rippling linksland without huge dunes. It is arranged in two loops, with the first third the inner circle.
Laid out by James Braid in 1906, it is all about interesting green complexes, gorgeous turf, heather, gorse and blind shots.
The 16th, ‘Gumbleys’, is the obvious highlight, where even a strong drive leaves a blind approach to a narrow green over tall sleepers. The short par 4 before it and a tough two-shotter that follows, with the railway line to the right and a bunker in the middle of the fairway, are both excellent too.
West Lancashire is often the odd one out when Britain and Ireland Top 100 rankings are compiled but we believe it deserves to be in that elite company along with its fellow Southport links.
It is at least the equal of its more illustrious neighbours and if you like simple but exacting links golf, this is for you.
It has a new clubhouse but this remains a club and course without enormous fuss. The course is stringent examination in a breeze, with the opening stretch easily capable of ruining a round barely before it is started when it is gusting off the North Sea.
It is also at least as well presented as its neighbours, all year round. A particularly good winter course and one of the best-value links in England.
Travel essentials for your trip
Where to stay
There is a myriad golf-friendly accommodation options – helpfully arranged on the England’s Golf Coast website but we prefer golfer-friendly four-star Ramada Plaza.
It is a terrific option, located in the beautiful Waterfront complex in the heart of Southport. The 133 rooms are spacious and well-equipped while the breakfast is especially good.
You can sip cocktails on the Sun Terrace, take Afternoon Tea in The Lounge or have a three-course dining experience in the Marine Brasserie.
England’s Golf Coast offer some tremendous packages, such as rounds at Formby, Hillside and Southport & Ainsdale, two nights’ bed & breakfast from £359 per person in October 2018. Call 01704 807800 or e-mail email@example.com
How to get there
If you live a distance away, as aforementioned the train to Liverpool is a good option while there are increasing numbers of domestic flights to Liverpool John Lennon airport, which is an hour from Southport. Once there, you are never in your car for more than 10 minutes. The fact the Metro rail has stops outside most of the courses means you may well see merit in getting the train to Liverpool Lime Street and using the local rail service form there.
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