The ‘Royal’ Golf Courses of England’s Golf Coast
Royal Birkdale Golf Club is only one of a whole string of first-class golf courses within 20 miles of Southport, three of which regularly host Open Championships. These are Royal Birkdale, Royal Lytham and St Anne’s, and Royal Liverpool. In fact, there are 160 golf courses within an hour’s drive of Southport. Many of these other courses are used for the qualifying rounds of the Open Championship whenever it visits the region.
Centered on the Birkdale Village area of Southport, this small region contains 3 of the top 20 golf courses and 7 of the top 36 golf courses in the UK. In world terms, it has 3 of the world’s top 75 golf courses. Not even the East coast of Scotland around St Andrews, the home of golf, can boast such a concentration of the world’s best golf courses.
These courses are a mixture of links courses and grass courses. The three golf courses to have hosted the Open Championship in recent years (Royal Birkdale, Royal Lytham and St Anne’s, and Royal Liverpool) are, of course, links courses, as the rules lay down that the championship must be played within sight and sound of the sea.
In addition to the Open Championship, the region’s courses have hosted many of golf’s other top competitions, including the Walker Cup, the Ryder Cup, and a number of Amateur Championships.
The Open Golf Championship and the Silver Claret Jug
The winner of the Open Championship is presented with the Silver Claret Jug, although they are no longer presented with the original. The original silver claret jug remains at St Andrew’s, as it has since 1928. In fact, there are now four copies of the jug (in addition to the ones presented to the winners). One resides in the Museum of Golf, while two are available for touring exhibitions.
What To Do After the Golf
Visitors to the Open Championship are not restricted to the golf. Just 25 minutes down the road, Liverpool hosted the European City of Culture in 2008, the rejuvenated Manchester is but a short drive or railway journey away, and a clear day allows for views from Southport of the mountains of both North Wales and the Lake District, each a 90-minute drive away.
For the golf-lover, England’s Golf Coast provides the globe’s most significant concentration of the world’s best golf courses. Southport and the areas around provide something for the golf widow or widowers who are left looking for something to do.