Golf Course Review of Hesketh Golf Club
Hesketh Golf Course
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: Half links, half not links
Our 5 Star Rating: 4.0
A round at Hesketh is very much a game of two halves. Well almost.
Whilst there is no doubting this is a true links golf course seven of the holes are certainly more 'linksy' than the others. What makes this difference perhaps even more apparent is the need to cross the busy Fleetwood Road which dissects the two varying parts of the course.
The first time you drive into Hesketh Golf Club you are treated to a glimpse of its highlights. The par three 16th runs parallel to the private road leading into the car park and is a magnificent hole with a green set amongst dunes and framed by fiendish pot bunkers. You then get to see the 18th green, the climax of another fine hole which tightens the closer you get to the green. And then the opening tee-shot and the whole of the first comes into view, a straight hole with a green once more sheltered by huge dunes. If the course lived up to this early teaser it would rival many of the notable courses in the Southport area. Sadly it doesn't.
That's not to say it isn't a good course but after playing the first, followed by an excellent par three to a plateau green, everything then goes a little bit flat for a while, eleven holes to be precise. That's perhaps a bit unfair because the next five holes are arguably very solid holes but there's no doubt that the atmosphere has now changed.
The third hole is the first played 'over the road' on flatter more marshy land, albeit ironically closer to the sea than the seven holes that skirt the clubhouse and meander through the larger dunes. I actually like the third and fourth, both are good holes and retain a strong links character to them whilst at the fifth a lake comes into play off the tee before a blind approach over the old sea wall to a hazard-free green. The lack of bunkering around the fifth means you can go in with a much longer club than you might initially think and therefore take the water out of play on your tee-shot. This is one of those holes where you could make a case for it being a risk-reward hole but I personally find it a bit clumsy. Nothing to do with taking a triple bogey here on my last visit, honest!
The sixth, a mighty par four, and the seventh, a superb par five, both run alongside a bird reserve with wildlife in abundance on these two holes. The former is well-bunkered throughout its 450 yards whilst water runs virtually the entire length of the next where anything to the right will find a watery grave. You are more exposed here and the wind will play a factor on how they play but to me these are two core holes at Hesketh where ten shots between the two of them is not a bad return.
So far so good you might think? Absolutely. However, the next six holes are what prevent Hesketh from going toe-to-toe with the likes of nearby Hillside, Formby, Southport & Ainsdale and Royal Birkdale. Every top course can maybe get away with having a weak hole but unfortunately Hesketh has half a dozen, all in a row. They have a distinct parkland feel to them and even though the bunkering retains a links appearance these holes play a lot 'softer' than the others and are the least enjoyable, with the exception perhaps of the 11th which is a tricky short hole with a sloping green.
After crossing back over the road you then play three of the finest links holes anywhere. The 14th is a personal favourite and requires a straight drive - gorse to the left and the road to the right - before an approach to a semi-blind green where you're never sure if your shot is as good as you think it might be until you get over the hummock 100 yards short of the green which houses three glaring bunkers. For me this is one of those holes that sits perfectly into the landscape with the clubhouse high on the left looking down imposingly on those walking the fairway.
The 15th is a classic links hole. The drive from high is blind to a fairway below flanked by dunes before the hole dog-legs slightly to the right and to a green hidden partially away in the tall dunes. A drive down the left is required to have a view of the green whilst a bunker in the middle of the fairway at driving distance usually requires an iron or fairway metal to be used off the tee. A bunker to the front right of the green will happily gather anything leaking to this side.
The next is the afore mentioned 16th which ranks as one of the best par three holes in the country. The round ends with back-to-back par fives. The 17th is a bit of a let-down after what has just gone before it but the last more than makes up for it with its ever narrowing fairway and a green once again set between high dunes.
Hesketh has three truly excellent golf holes and these make it worth a visit alone. It also has a handful of other very good holes but in my opinion holes eight through 13 offer very little. Fortunately, these come in the middle of the round and the last five holes try their damnedest to make up for it and always leave you with the feeling that you will return to sample the finest parts of Hesketh once again.
Club Website: www.heskethgolfclub.co.uk
Tournaments: Open golf competitions at Hesketh Golf Club.
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