Liverpool: The wonderful gateway to England’s golf coast

Liverpool skyline
The Liverpool skyline by night. Photograph by Adrian Sava

When you think of the city of Liverpool, golf doesn’t immediately spring to mind.

It’s a melting pot of a place, with different cultures and histories blended together to make a creative, vibrant, modern city that pulses with personality. But perhaps it isn’t a place you associate with golf. Liverpool, after all, is a city which lives and breathes football. It’s a city that is known across the world for its incredible music scene and one band in particular. It’s known for its great history of industry and shipbuilding too, and scousers are rightly proud of its rich heritage and charm.

But golf? Well, it should be, quite frankly. Because within 15 miles of the city centre you’ll find two clubs which have hosted The Open championship in the past decade: Royal Liverpool, or Hoylake as it’s better known. And Royal Birkdale. If you are prepared to travel an hour up the coast, you will find another in Royal Lytham & St Annes. That’s three out of four English Open venues within an hour of the city. This is England’s golf coast.

Royal Birkdale on England's golf coast
Royal Birkdale is one of England’s best courses and hosted The Open in 2015. Photography by Richard Stott.

If you extend your search to include other top 100 courses within 15 miles of the city you will find Hillside, Formby, Southport & Ainsdale and West Lancs. That’s six world-class venues within a 30 minute drive of Liverpool, and Lytham a little further away.

That’s an extraordinary concentration. Almost unparalleled anywhere in the world. Liverpool is the gateway to England’s Golf Coast and it’s as good as any city-based golf trip on earth, whether that be Edinburgh and East Lothian or Dublin and it’s incredible links coast.

So we can agree the golf is beyond wonderful, but what of the city itself? What can golfers expect on a golf trip once a day on the links is over?

Liverpool's waterfront is a few miles from England's golf coast
Liverpool’s historic waterfront is a World Heritage Site. Photography by Paul Daley.

Liverpool is a city that reverberates with life and is full of friendly, warm and open people who literally couldn’t be prouder to call it their home. It’s divided into districts, with each telling a story of the history of that part of Liverpool. The Fabric District, for example, is the part of town where things are woven together and many of the city’s textile shops live. The Ropewalks is based around buzzing Bold Street and the long, narrow roads are where ropes were made for ships as part of the city’s rich maritime history.

The waterfront – a World Heritage Site – is a blend of the old and the new. The famous Albert Dock is the historic centrepiece of this part of the city. It is home to museums – The Tate Liverpool and The Beatles Story – art galleries, restaurants and shops. Liverpool’s docks were once the heartbeat of global trade, dating back to the 19th century. Now they have been reinvented as a fabulous place for tourists to get a sense of what makes Liverpool special.

The Liver Building, close to England's Golf Coast
The iconic Liver Building. Credit: Atanas Paskalev.

Alongside the historic is the modern, with new buildings such as The Museum of Liverpool and Mann Island reflecting the new, innovative side of Liverpool. A little further along the front, behind the Beatles statue, is the iconic Liver Building.

On top of each of its two towers sits a Liver Bird – the symbol of the city for more than 800 years. The stories about them have existed for almost as long. The legend goes that one is female, Bella, and one male, Bertie. One faces out to sea and the other across the city. According to legend, if the two birds were ever to face each other or to fly away, the city would fall.

Liverpool's Georgian Quarter which is within reach of England's golf coast
Liverpool’s beautiful Georgian Quarter. Photograph by Deividas Toleikis.

Away from the waterfront the Georgian Quarter is sophisticated and charming. It is also home to some excellent hotels, restaurants, bars and theatres, as well as the city’s two beautiful cathedrals.

The Cavern Quarter is home to – yes you guessed it – The Cavern Club, which can claim to be the birthplace of The Beatles as a band. A statue of John Lennon sits across the road and remains one of the city’s most visited areas. Around the corner is The Beatles-themed Hard Day’s Night Hotel. Further out of the city centre you will find more to explore. If you are into football, the award-winning tour of Liverpool FC’s Anfield stadium is one not to miss.

Culture is everywhere too. On Crosby beach, Anthony Gormley’s Another Place exhibit is wonderful. The installation features 100 cast iron figures facing the sea at various points along the length and depth of the beach. As the tide comes in, some are enveloped by the ocean. And as you sit looking at them, more seem to appear one after another. It’s truly hypnotic and wonderful.

Anthony Gormley's Another Place is on England's Golf Coast
Anthony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ on Crosby Beach in Liverpool. Photograph by Adam, The Midlife Crisis Guy.

There are so many fantastic places to eat and drink in Liverpool that we couldn’t do them justice here. And that is the same for the city itself. The best way to get a sense of what Liverpool is all about is to go and soak it up for yourselves. The people will be delighted to see you, they will make you feel welcome and you will leave a little piece of your heart in Liverpool when you leave. It changes you. In the best possible way.

And with England’s golf coast just a few miles away, Liverpool makes for a truly memorable golf trip. On the one hand, some of England’s best links courses. And on the other, the charm, history and culture of a fabulous, fun city full of great characters – it’s a truly compelling cocktail and one golfers should be drinking in.

Ben is the founder of The Wandering Golfers. He grew up on the links of Ayrshire in Scotland learning the game from his beloved Grandpa. He spent more than a decade covering Ryder Cups and the Majors for The Times and BBC Sport before starting his own businesses.

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