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Last Updated: Monday, 17 July 2006, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
A-Hoylake!
By Matt Slater
Golf editor

Back in 1967, when the 44-year-old Roberto de Vicenzo held off Jack Nicklaus to claim a richly deserved Claret Jug, only Prestwick and St Andrews had staged more Open Championships than Hoylake's Royal Liverpool.

Jack Nicklaus
The Hoylake galleries watch Jack Nicklaus during the 1967 Open
Since then, the country has ditched shillings, man has visited the moon and prize money has risen to the extent that the last-placed player this year will earn more than de Vicenzo did for his win. But there have been no more Hoylake Opens.

Getting back inside the R&A's circle of trust has been a lengthy process, and it has involved all manner of nips and tucks to the course, clubhouse and surrounding infrastructure.

But back in it is. So to mark the course's first Open for 39 years, and its 11th in total, here are a golf round's worth of facts you might not know about the course, town and surrounding area (unless, of course, you live there or have been asked to write something similar this week).


1. Built in 1869, Hoylake is the second oldest links in England. Only Devon's Westward Ho! predates it. For the first seven years of its life Royal Liverpool shared its home with the Liverpool Hunt Club and the links doubled up as a racecourse. Hence the names of the usual 1st and 18th holes, Course and Stand.

2. Prolific seven-piece The Coral hail from Hoylake. They describe their hometown as the "anti-Blackpool" on their myspace page and say the annual highlight is Lifeboat Day. The Coral aren't the only music combo to come from Hoylake - Depeche Mode-lite synth popsters Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark met at school in the seaside town.

The Coral
Local boys The Coral are working on their fourth full-length album
3. For the record, the Hoylake Lifeboat Station dates back to 1803 and is one of the oldest in England. The lads from The Coral had a blast at the station's bicentenary in 2003. Probably.

4. Nearby villages Caldy, Heswall and West Kirby are footballers' wives country. Apparently you can't move for current or former Everton or Liverpool stars. WAG wannabes should try Heswall's Devon Doorway or Terrace C.

5. Sir Paul McCartney has a place in Heswall, while Cynthia Lennon, John's first wife, was born and brought up in Hoylake - she even sang in the parish girl's choir.

6. Hoylake hosted the first ever Amateur Championship in 1885. It was also the venue for the first international match between England and Scotland in 1902. And to complete the hat-trick of firsts, Hoylake also hosted the inaugural international match between Great Britain and the US. This contest would later become known as the Walker Cup.

7. Golf isn't Hoylake's only sporting pastime. Cycling star Chris Boardman was also born there. And Hoylake RFC enjoyed a run to the final of the Tetley's Bitter Vase at Twickenham in 2001. Sadly, the Wirral men lost 36-20 to Malton & Norton but a great day out was had by all.

8. No doubt many of Hoylake RFC's former players have gone on to great things but surely only one has a licence to kill. Daniel Craig, the next James Bond, grew up in the area and turned out for the local XV. Craig is not Hoylake's only thespian connection. Glenda Jackson, now a Labour MP, grew up there and the theatre in nearby Birkenhead was named after her in 1983, although it has since been pulled down.

Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig, the new James Bond, served Hoylake RFC before MI6
9. Hoylake's beach is one of Britain's top sites for sand yachting, which sounds like a lot of fun. The 2007 European Championships are going to be staged there. I have no idea if Hoylake was off their rota for nearly 40 years too.

10. Royal Liverpool greatest player John Ball won the Amateur Championship eight times and became the first amateur and first Englishman to win the Open in 1890. Ball's closest rival in the voting for Hoylake's number one golf hero, Harold Hilton, won the Amateur title four times, the Open twice and the US Amateur once. He was also the first editor of Golf Monthly magazine.

11. Bobby Jones, the most famous amateur golfer of all, won the Open at Hoylake in 1930 - the year he won all four "majors" he entered, the so-called "impregnable quadrilateral".

12. Arnaud Massy won France's only Open title at Hoylake in 1907. He named his next daughter Hoylake. Fred Daly won Ireland's only Open title at Hoylake in 1947. He didn't name anybody Hoylake.

13. Australian Peter Thomson became the last man - and only the fourth ever - to win three straight Opens when he claimed first place at Hoylake in 1956.

Chris Boardman
Hoylake hero Chris Boardman - no relation of scouse wit Stan
14. About half of Royal Liverpool's 63 hectares are left in their natural state as a haven for wildlife. And amid all this untrammelled outdoors is a unique item of flora. The rough between the 11th and 14th holes is the only place in England you will find McKay's Horsetail. And no, I have no idea what it looks like. The course can also boast of a knab of rare natterjack toads.

15. Hoylake might lack nightclubs and cash points but it is well served in the public house department - La Bodega comes recommended as a potential spot for celeb-spotting, while The Lake, The Plasterers Arms and The Ship are suggested for more relaxing post-Open pints.

16. Hoylake is also relatively well served by public transport. The best way to negotiate the eight miles from the centre of Liverpool to the centre of Hoylake is by train. Hoylake has two stations - Hoylake and Manor Road - with the former being only a par-five away from the golf course.

17. The course offers wonderful views of the Dee Estuary and North Wales. The estuary, apparently, is very popular with wading birds and wildfowl. They love the 450,000 worms per square meter of mud that can be found there.

18. With the weather set fair on the Wirral next week an excellent place to cool toes and eat fresh seafood is nearby Parkgate. And the ice-creams are superb - perfect post-Open fare.

SEE ALSO
Open course guide
12 Jul 06 |  Golf
Hoylake through the years
17 Jul 06 |  Golf


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