Royal Liverpool Golf Club
England

Seventh hole, 200/195 yards, Dowie; Cameron Sinclair created a fine hole with dips and swales around the green. However, so long attached is the name Dowie with its predecessor, perhaps the most feared hole in the history of English golf, that the author can’t help but wonder if the hole is changed, so sadly too should its name. Speaking of change, the rules change in 1932 b ythe R&A for hitting out of bounds from one shot to both stroke and distance made the penalty for a miscue left on this hole doubly severe – and ultimately probably led to its downfall 60 years later. One thing is for sure in the author’s mind: if the original Dowie had been played in the 2006 Open Championship, Tiger Woods would have won by even more.

The new 7th is an attractive one shotter but the terror - and the uniqueness - of its predecessor is absent.

Eighth hole, 535/495 yards, Far; One of the fascinating aspects of Hoylake is that the golfer never senses when he is going into the dunes nor when he emerges, so seamless is the transition. Just as Bill Coore did at Friar’s Head, Chambers and Morris transitioned from the flats into the dunes by stretching it across a three shot hole. The first significant dune of the course encroaches into the fairway 180 yards from the green and makes the second shot from tee balls down the right blind. Hoylake’s single most famous bunker is a pit cut into the base of the dune upon which the green rests. Tiger Woods, uncharacteristically, found this famous bunker and took two to get out. Bob Jones avoided it during his final round but still somehow managed to take more shots than he wished, as he describes in Golf is My Game:

The eight hole at Hoylake was of some 480 yards, but I had been consistently either on, or just off, the green in two shoots. This time was no exception. After a good drive my spoon second just missed the left edge of the green and rolled off some ten or fifteen yards down an innocent slope. It lay still in the fairway with absolutely nothing between it and the flag. The events of the next few moments caused such wonderment among the spectators and golfing authorities present. Mr. Darwin said later that a nice old lady with a croquet mallet could have saved me two strokes from this point. Yet I swear that I took seven on that hole in the most reasonable manner possible.

A view down the long 8th where drives down the right frequently yield a blind second shot over the dunes. As at St. Andrews, the ideal line involves hitting down the side with out of bounds.

Colt's 8th green complex admirably defends the hole against modern technology. The course's deepest green side bunker is front right and the sloping green is the smallest on a course known for its medium size greens.

Ninth hole, 395/390 yards, Punch Bowl; True to its name, after having played Far, the golfer is at the far end of the property and the views could not be more different than those around the clubhouse. The golfer now finds himself in natural links land. The dunes aren’t massive but rather are perfectly suited to the game of golf. The 9th fairway weaves and bobs through a natural valley. The primary task on the hole is what separates links golf from all other forms: properly flighting an iron from an awkward stance through the breeze.

This view from the 9th tee highlights Hoylake's diversity: six of its holes are in prime dunes land as seen above in the sunlight with the remaining holes on the flat as seen in the shade.

Looking back toward the tee, the 9th hole features the finest crumpled links ground on the course.

Located in a dell, the front left to back right axis of the 9th green coupled with the hidden front bunker pictured above means that the left side of the fairway is ideal for one's approach.

Tenth hole, 450/410 yards, Dee; By 1924, Hoylake had hosted X Opens and X Amateurs, and its hosting of these prestige events made it the dominate club in England. Nonetheless, the course at Hoylake has always been a work in progress with a view to challenge the very best and now was no different. This time, Harry Colt was brought in by the Club and the dunes land holes essentially took their present day form. The 8th green was moved up to its crowned position atop a dune from a hollow low and left, the10th and12th greens were moved well left and into the dunes and Colt created the one shot 11th and 13th holes. Colt leveled off a dune to create the 10th green and so good and natural were the green’s defenses that Colt saw no need to build a bunker within 100 yards of it.

A view from the 10th tee with a series of four bunkers on the outside of the dogleg to the left.

Hoylake's fairway bunkers are true hazards that command respect and dictate strategy. These are found on the outside of the dogleg 10th, whose left to right sloping fairway helps feed balls toward them.

As the golfer rounds the bend of the dune at the 10th, the flag and the green slowly reveal themselves.

From the 10th green to the 11th tee, the golfer soaks in the long views across the Dee estuary. The 9th through the 13th plays in a northerly direction along its shoreline, leaving the golfer fully exposed to the elements.

Eleventh hole, 200/195 yards, Alps; Prior to Colt’s visit, and as captured in Harry Rountree’s 1909 painting, the 11th hole played across the current hole to a green located down and near the forward tees of today’s 12th. As he did at the 8th, 10th, here and the 12th, Colt moved the green to the higher location. Bearing in mind this was the era of hickory golf clubs, such elevated green complexes only added to Hoylake’s overall challenge.

The stretched yellow flag shows a typical wind off the Dee estuary and tells the story: many a tee ball is pushed right...

...into the hole's sole bunker, perfectly placed by Colt.

Twelfth hole, 455/410 yards, Hilbre; Colt moved this green 100 yards to the left and in doing so created what many consider to be the finest hole at Hoylake. Who would dare argue that Colt’s changes weren’t a significant improvement to the dunes land holes? The Hoylake membership, that’s who! There was much gnashing of the teeth when the new holes opened for play, already so loved and revered was the course in 1924.

The view from the 12th tee where Colt sharply doglegged the fairway to the left around the three bunkers seen above (the original hole played straight ahead).

After a perfect drive, a long iron is often still required to reach the none-too-big and partially obscured 12th green.

Closer up, the bunkers above are actually 40 yards shy of the 12th green.

Colt's superlative bunkerless 12th green complex was made all the better by the R&A when they suggested the mowing pattern above, which creates more varied recovery shots.

A view back down the 12th shows the superb dunes land that Colt wished to utilize when he moved the 12th green up to its present location.

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