Wondrous WALLASEY Golf Club
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There can be no mention of Wallasey without first citing it’s most favoured son, Dr Frank Stableford. Dr Stableford surely must have truly loved the average golfer for his invention of the Stableford scoring format has been a life saver for thousands of British golfers over the years. The first Stableford competition was held at Wallasey in 1932 and the club hosts the Stableford Open each year to commemorate this event. The club is also rightly proud of its Bobby Jones oil painting which owns a place of distinction high above the entrance to the bar. Jones sat for the painting in 1930 while at Wallasey for Open qualifying. Of course he went on to win The Open at nearby Hoylake and eventually close out his career by storming the Impregnable Quadrilateral after capturing the US Open title at Merion in September.
Wallasey shares a sense of identity with nearby Hoylake due to the course running through majestic dunes and over pancake flat land. Interestingly, Wallasey uses an old trick in having par 5s devour most of the flat land; #s 7, 13 & 14. There are also at least parts of three par 4s on this less handsome land as well; all of #6 and the drives for # 8 & 15. While many are less than impressed with level links golf, I have long welcomed flat holes acting as a ballast to what can often seem like stormy seas among heaving dunes. Old Tom Morris is the original architect of record, but several esteemed men of golfing fame had a hand in creating the Wallasey of today. These include Alex Herd and Harold Hilton previous to WW; James Braid in preparation for the 1930 Open Qualifying; Hawtree, JH Taylor and Braid again in 1936 and again to host Open Qualifying; and some reconstruction work after military use in WWII. Changes continued right though 2004 when Donald Steel made some changes, tightening the course with bunkers and building three new greens in preparation for the 2006 Open Final Qualifying.
Looking at the map of the course, one will note that the course has a most interesting routing and this is perhaps Wallasey’s greatest strength. The opening nine holes ring the course boundary in an anti-clockwise manner, leaving no opportunity to warm to a wind direction before it is pushing from a different direction. The back nine is even more interesting. In a roundabout way the holes route clockwise in an interior circle, but not without some twists and turns. Among the many good holes are four which are all All England candidates; these include #s 5, 8, 11 & 18.
Holes to Note
#3: A semi-blind tee shot to a narrow saddle fairway finished with a plateau green.
#4: After the clausterphobic 3rd, the world opens on #4. Despite the huge expanse of fairways, Liverpool Bay will surely weigh heavily on the minds of golfers who prefer a slice. The use of a long berm separates the 4th from the 17th.
#5: Is the first of a fine set of short holes. Wind quartering from the left can create havoc.
#8: The holes makes superb use of OOB by bending right around the practice ground. A pair of bunkers placed exactly where we want to drive requires the golfer to choose between taking sand and OOB on for the drive or having to cut across the OOB for a blind second.
#11: The pick of many as Wallasey’s best hole, this is a classic down n’ up par 4 swinging right to a green resting on a knob.
#18: Wallasey comes home in great fashion. A large dune cuts in from the right necessitating a thoughtful drive. If executed well, the approach is straight forward yet fun.
Within a 45 minute drive:
Formby Golf Club: A wonderful diverse links which for some is the best on the links-rich Lancashire coast.
Hillside Golf Club: A tale of two halves; the front nine is very traditional while the back nine running through majestic dunes is far more modern.
Royal Birkdale: A modern championship links which can test the best golfers.
Royal Liverpool Golf Club: Perhaps the most venerable of all English clubs.