Why this links course (where a piece of golf history was born) was my favorite of 2023

The fourth hole of Wallasey Golf Club in Wallasey, England

A view of the 17th (left) and 4th fairways at Wallasey Golf Club in Wallasey, England

Josh Berhow

I wish I could tell you what the inside of the stately Wallasey Golf Club clubhouse looked like. Or what ancient memorabilia the old club might have had on its walls, or what the hallways smelled like.

But I didn’t even step inside. When our taxi pulled into the packed parking lot just minutes before our afternoon tee time on Wednesday of Open Championship week back in July, all we could do was bolt for the first tee. One member of our group ran inside to pay for our pair of back-to-back threesomes, so I went to the par-4 1st tee and tried to take a few warm-up cuts without having the howling wind blow me over in the process.

Two marshals were there to greet us. They were pleasant but had little sympathy for our tardiness. “You’re up,” one said.

A view of Wallasey Golf Club in Wallasey, England
An approach into the green on the 11th hole at Wallasey Golf Club in Wallasey, England Josh Berhow

So instead of telling you about the entire experience of Wallasey Golf Club in Wallasey, England, just nine miles down the road from 151st Open host Royal Liverpool, I’m going to tell you just about the course, which was originally designed by Old Tom Morris in 1891. But that’s all you really need to know anyway. The clubhouse could have been a double-wide for all I care. The golfing experience was brilliant and by far my favorite course I played in 2023.

The first thing you should know about Wallasey is that it’s public, so you can play it (£215 peak summer rate), and that there’s history there. It’s the home of the Stableford, and a marshal on the 1st tee will educate you about it. For those unfamiliar, a Stableford is a scoring system in which points are awarded per hole based on a player’s score relative to net par. In this format, you want the highest points total at the end. It was created by member Frank Barney Gorton Stableford and first used in competition at Wallasey in 1932.

The 8th hole of Wallasey Golf Club in Wallasey, England
The green on the par-4 8th, with the author’s ball tucked in close (for once) Josh Berhow

As for the golf, like I said: brilliant. It’s everything you’d want in good links golf. Gorgeous seaside holes. The threat of volatile wind. Big, undulating greens. Devilish pot bunkers. Blind shots but not too many. The right amount of quirkiness.

It’s a lovely combination of wide-open tee shots mixed with tight driving windows with gnarly mounds and long fescue threatening from off the fairway.

On the par-5 4th tee box (photo at top of page), on one of the highest points of the property, you’ll find your favorite view of the round. It goes on for miles, with the Irish Sea to the northwest, which runs into a beach and then a walking path that’s parallel to the fairway. A long fescue mound separates the 4th and 17th fairways, meaning there’s a ton of room, and it’s a hole where you swing hard and see where the ball lands.

My lone birdie came on the par-4 8th, a dogleg right (where two teeing areas intersect). I pulled a driver off the tee but hit the best 5-wood of my life to three feet and made the nervy putt.

The 10th hole of Wallasey Golf Club in Wallasey, England
The uphill approach into the short par-4 10th hole Josh Berhow

My favorite hole was the 10th, a short par-4 called “Mound,” where the longest hitters could cut a corner and go for the green, but mortals like myself could take something less to the corner and have just a wedge in. But the approach calls for precision to a green perched high on top of a hill, where shots that miss (or putts hit too hard from the back of the green to a front pin) will tumble down into runoff areas.

The back nine has two great par-3s: the 12th and the 16th. Twelve is a downhill shot to a narrow green guarded by five bunkers, while the 16th green sits hard up against a big hill where, if you happen to miss right of the green, you’ll have quite the adventure.

The 18th hole looked fun, too. But that’s my only regret. There was an event on-site, as is often the case during a busy major week, so we weren’t able to play the par-4 finisher. No sweat. Now I have a reason to return.

The 17th hole of Wallasey Golf Club in Wallasey, England
A view from behind the par-4 17th green Josh Berhow

Josh Berhow

Golf.com Editor

Josh Berhow is the managing editor at GOLF.com. The Minnesota native graduated with a journalism degree from Minnesota State University in Mankato. You can reach him at joshua_berhow@golf.com.