Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Royal Birkdale Golf Club in the town of Southport, England, is one of the clubs in the Open Championship rotation. The club has hosted the championship nine times since 1954, most recently in July 2008. Previous winners of the Open at Royal Birkdale are Pádraig Harrington, Mark O'Meara, Ian Baker-Finch, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer and Peter Thomson (on two separate occasions). Birkdale is the only course in the Open rotation that has never had a champion from the United Kingdom. The course is unique in that no two holes face in the same direction giving obvious problems on the notoriously windy days prevalent to any links.

Royal Birkdale has also hosted the Ryder Cup, the Walker Cup, and the Curtis Cup.


Founded as Birkdale Golf Club in 1889, the club had to wait until 1951 to get the "Royal" status. In 1946 the club hosted its first big championship in The Amateur Championship, won by Irishman James Bruen. During this immediate post-war era, the club also hosted the 1948 Curtis Cup, in which the United States team were victorious, and the 1951 Walker Cup, which also fell into the hands of the United States. With these successful stagings of important events, the club was felt to be ready for its first Open Championship in 1954, which went well, and Royal Birkdale has been on the Open rota ever since.

Several constructions, including a move to a new site in 1894, and a new clubhouse in 1935, also kept the members busy.

Three generations of the Hawtree family of golf course architects have worked on the course. Frederick G. Hawtree and champion golfer J.H. Taylor are the two people most responsible for the current routing, following the valleys between the very large dunes which dominate the property. The arrangement makes for excellent spectator conditions during major events. Frederick W. Hawtree, the son of Frederick G, performed some modifications in the 1960s, and recently Martin Hawtree, son of Frederick W., has improved and modernized the layout further. All 18 of the club's greens were completely rebuilt, to improve turf and drainage, following the 1991 Open Championship. Only relatively minor tweaking, such as the addition of a few new bunkers and back tees, has been deemed necessary in advance of the last two Open Championships. ["British Open Preview 2008", by Ronald Whitten, "Golf Digest" magazine, July 2008.]

The course was ranked as the 18th best in the world outside the United States, in the 2007 rankings by "Golf Digest" magazine. ["Golf Digest" magazine, May 2007.]

During the 1960's, the club played host to two Ryder Cups, one in 1965 and another in 1969. In the 1965 edition, the United States took the cup in a playoff between Arnold Palmer and Julius Boros. The Ryder Cup of 1969 however ended in a tie, when Jack Nicklaus generously gave a short putt to Tony Jacklin.

The Open Championships

The Open Championship has been held at Royal Birkdale nine times, since it was first staged there in 1954. The course staged the 2008 championship, with Irishman Pádraig Harrington taking home the trophy for the second consecutive year.

Bolded Year Signify Major


External links

* [ Official site]

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