Next year’s Open host is not afraid to make drastic changes

The grape facade of the Royal Liverpool Club.

Shawn Zack

On the first day I focused on Liverpool, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was doing something wrong.

It was a Sunday afternoon and I was just there to see the property, no fluctuations. Slightly confused (at the request of a confused Uber driver) I entered in an unnatural way, between the seventh and eighth slots, actually about three-quarters of a mile from the club. I made my way in that direction, bypassing a public road that led to the beach. “Stop,” a sign reads. “Beware of golf balls from the right and left.”

I was visiting Royal Liverpool to take some photos, fly a drone for the video you’ll see below and to get a public space of the land. There were probably a few dozen guys in the course, and the sun was starting to set and give the yellow lanes more glow. It sounded so good and felt so easy to believe. Sure enough, something was going on in the city or down the coast to make this peninsula look so perfect. But after learning about its lanes and the people who walk on them, I began to understand that this is what you get at Royal Liverpool most days during the summer: the Irish sea breeze, the distant sound of the beach-dwellers and not the soul. on your way.

That won’t be the case next summer, of course. It was still hard to imagine: what would this calm, tidy, sun-drenched place of solitude look like when it hosts the 2023 Open? It’s one of the endearing aspects of this major tournament that no one else can match: The Open routinely visits smaller towns. St. Andrews, Troon, Portrush, Golan. And while nearby Liverpool is not small, so is Hoellick herself. There are only 5,000 people residing there and only 12,000 living in nearby West Kirby. The golf course itself actually occupies about a third of the area in that corner of the Wirral Peninsula. As visitors open this summer in St. Andrews discovered, in towns like this, there really are only so many beds to roam in.

This high demand on low supply is part of what makes small town open weeks so magical. You can find any number of professionals walking down Market Street this year in St Andrews. The same scene will be shown on Market Street in Hoylake in nine months. For seven days, restaurants will stay open later, cafes will open earlier, and bars may pour you a pint at 1am. It’s good for business, it’s good for city dwellers, and it’s good for club members. Royal Liverpool are embracing the World Open and everything that comes with it – even when it means embracing a major change.

When Rory McIlroy and the Hoellick gang visit next summer, they’ll find some big tweaks, some more obvious than others, and all advice from architect Martin Ebert. If what you are looking for is to host the greatest players in the world, then updating your course is at the top of your priority list. For proof, see the 15th hole, which gave us a great introduction when we played there In August during a sprint around the UK. Check it out below.

Three years ago, the 15th race ran west to east, measured about 160 yards and was usually played downwind. It was mostly grassy with pentagons of green caches. Currently? Zero record. The hole was flipped 180 degrees and shortened to about 135 yards. It points to the west these days, facing the Irish Sea and the islands off its coast. It has acquired a new name – Little Eye, the name of one of those islands – and has a more rugged appearance. Green grass paths intertwine between the short, long and left sandy waste bunkers. If Royal Liverpool is going to is being Next to the beach, this hatch helps you Feel As if you were near the beach, more than any hole in the property. Pro chief John Heggarty described it as a “nice” way to break a stretch of four or five long finishing holes. It will be the 17th hole during next year’s Open, where the nerves of ending a major tournament will make anything not so pleasant.

As a matter of exercise, can you think of another club that is over 100 years old that could do this? This will pick up one of its historic holes like a statue, flip it over and examine it from another angle, pin it in place and tell its members, “Surprise!” This does not happen. But it is an example of the mentality of the club. Our point of view has become progressive traditional,said Tamara Allen, a member for four years who played with us during our trip. Or you might call it a traditional progressive. You cannot stand still. It will move backwards if you stand still.”

In order to avoid standing still, RLGC has gone so far as to scan TripAdvisor for hints on how to improve its operations. Shinnecock doesn’t care about TripAdvisor, I can promise you that. Royal Liverpool does that, at least a little bit. “There is a saying [Bernard] Darwin said Hoylake is owned primarily by members, but is also owned by the golf world,” Heggarty told us. “When you have a prestigious golf club like this, we don’t have a philosophy of ‘let’s keep it closed so people can’t come and share it with us.’” We, as a golf club We are excited to welcome visitors to the club, just to share our heritage and share the bond with them.”

If visitors feel a certain way, and members seem to agree, why not make these sensible changes? Royal Liverpool bowed at that why not mentality while preserving the legacy they inherited. By doing that, they’re taking responsibility for bringing back the Open Championship, say, 2029. And then again maybe six to eight years after that, maybe seven years later, and so on. A golf nerd will find changes in what the pros will play in fourth, seventh, eighth and thirteenth. The most obvious—along with the penultimate part of the par-3 now reversed—would be the rear tees added to the 18th, extending to a modern maximum of 607 yards. R&A officials walked into the building during our visit, checking the changes under their feet.

But the beauty of RLGC is not just in its desire for change but the way it works its way to achieving that change. Some things go, some things remain. The good is agreed, and the less is modified from the good. That’s the process, and that’s been the case since the club’s inception. Inside you’ll find a dark blue, leather-covered “suggestion book” that includes members’ suggestions from decades ago, continuing through recent years.

When a proposal was made during the club’s first year of existence to change its name to absolute mouth – The West Lancashire and Cheshire Golf Club – members happily stepped in and made the right decision for future golf writers around the world. Years later, when the horse racing at Liverpool Hunt Club began to move to another location, the Royal Liverpool F.C. absorbed this history and kept it. Some things go, some things remain. Today, as bicycles and horses fly, so is the first starting point. And herein lies the traditional half of “progressive traditionalism”: a sinister and unique test and out-of-bounds unparalleled anywhere else. Only at Royal Liverpool.

The original design of the nine holes in Royal Liverpool.

Shawn Zack

The modern driving range at Royal Liverpool is located within what was once a racetrack.

Shawn Zack

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