Friday, June 2, 2006

Royal Birkdale

The best golf course in England.


Royal Birkdale Golf Club (ranked #28 in the world), ranks as the highest ranked course of all of the nine English courses on the list. I adamantly disagree about its placement. I would say it's the best golf course in England after the following courses: 1. Royal St. George's; 2. Royal Liverpool; 3. Sunningdale Old; 4. Woodhall Spa; 5. Ganton; 6. Royal Lytham & St. Annes; 7. Walton Heath and 8. Wentworth West. While I'm not a math genius, I think that would make it the lowest ranked course in the country.

The course is not near enough to the ocean to give it any views and I don't think it has any truly distinctive holes. The course has hosted many Open Championships because the R & A likes the flat routing surrounded by dunes because it makes for good TV viewing. But don't mistake good TV viewing for a good golf course. They are not one in the same.

And what's up with that clubhouse? At first I thought it was just bad c1970s architecture. The clubhouse was actually built in 1935 and is art deco, having the look of a ship. But it just doesn't work. There is no sense of purpose or tradition to it. The interior spaces don't work either. White is a terrible color for the outside as it is too stark a contrast to the links terrain and it does not fit in with the landscape.

For a club formed in 1889 you would think you could get a better sense of history or tradition walking around the clubhouse. But the place is flat. Walking around the other English courses your spine tingles with excitement and history. The Bobby Jones perfect card at Sunningdale, the grandeur of Royal St. George's, the museum like quality of Hoylake, the traditions of Royal Lytham. Walking through the Birkdale clubhouse felt like walking through a hospital corridor. They have hosted two Ryder cups and eight open championships but they don't use it to their advantage.

Sorry boys, but Birkdale is missing that certain je ne sais quoi.

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