Laid out when Wirral was countryside and seashore, the course fits effortlessly into the natural environment, covering the highest open land on the peninsula. This largely hidden green oasis retains its heritage of small copses and heathland and has become an important habitat for wildlife.
The course was originally 9 holes and designed by local lad Harry Hilton, a winner in the Open Championship at Muirfield in 1892, winning again at his home club Royal Liverpool in 1897. Hilton, a winner of the British Amateur Championship on four occasions, was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978. Some characteristics of the original design have been maintained but the course was increased to 18 holes by 1907 and further extended after the Second World War and the clever design offers a subtle test of golf which is about so much more than how far you can hit the ball.
The course rewards thoughtful play – be cautious and you will score, but only by combining caution with boldness will you score well. Small traditional greens are often elevated to deflect or stifle the wavering approach shot. Bunkers lie in those very places where the ball wants to roll. Any drives hit off line (if found) will leave the golfer with a shot into the green over trees, gorse or hazards.
It is hard to single out a “signature hole” but the fifteenth, a par 4 dog-leg left with the green set amongst woodland, reflects the character of the course. Decide on the tee that you will play to score a 5 and you will probably get it. To get a 4 requires a carrying drive to that part of the fairway which leaves you with a clear sight of the green. The green itself is elevated and sloped away at the rear. Timid shots run up short, “Tiger” shots run off into the shrubs behind, wayward shots end in the bunker or amongst trees – the classic golfing dilemma of risk and reward.
There are four par 3 holes, each presenting a different challenge. The seventeenth, set amongst heather and gorse requires accuracy both in line and distance, but the hole that people remember is the twelfth (163 yards for women or 173 yards for men). Aim your drive between copses to a green backed by woodland and guarded by three bunkers to the right. The green itself slopes back to front and is raised on both sides. Trust the line, strike the putt and hope you have made allowance for the small borrows. Walk to the thirteenth having scored a three and you will have every right to feel pleased.
At around 5,000 yards, Wirral Golf Club is a compact golf course (par 70 for women and par 68 for men). It has short walks between greens and the next tee and with a round taking on average a little over three hours, the golfer will have had their game tested, enjoyed a walk in a traditional natural setting and perhaps most importantly have enjoyed the good company of fellow golfers with plenty of time left to mull over their game whilst enjoying the rest of the facilities at the clubhouse.