Playing golf at Caldy Golf Club you’re reminded why you love the game. This is a course that refreshes your enthusiasm for the game by reminding you that golf should be a joy, a pastime played for fun with a smile on your face. The mark of a good course doesn’t always have to be the regularity with which you find yourself waist high in gorse on the wrong side of the most ferocious examination of your game. That’s not to say the course is easy, indeed the stiff breeze that no doubt accompanies the majority of rounds here provides ample defence and a limitless variety of playing conditions.
The southernmost course on England’s Golf Coast, Caldy Golf Club is located upon the cliff tops and farmland that overlooks the River Dee and across to the northern coast of Wales. Originally opened in 1907, the course comprised just nine holes and it wasn’t until that golfing luminary, James Braid, reworked it in 1931 that the course we knew today came into being. Today, the club still looks to uphold the ethos behind the James Braid design while protecting the course from erosion.
At the highest point of the property, the modern glass fronted clubhouse offers views to distant mountains and across neighbouring farmland. The course has a championship heritage, too, playing understudy to Royal Liverpool for the European Open and Senior Open Championships of 1981. More recently, Caldy hosted Final Qualifying for the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2012.
But you sense that the ‘bridesmaid’ role sits very comfortably at Caldy. Some golf clubs prefer to cater first and foremost to their members and visitors of the mortal kind, and there is plenty to suggest that Caldy achieve this in spades. This is a proper member’s club with a suitably playable course divided by a former railway line into two very distinct sections. The fairways are wide enough to be forgiving and rough isn’t so penal as to leave you searching despairingly in undergrowth on every other hole. But don’t be mistaken, there are enough humps, hollows, and elevation changes to toughen the course up.
Holes 4 – 6
Unsurprisingly, the outstanding stretch of holes run parallel to the cliff top bordering the River Dee. Subtle furrows in the fairways resemble corrugated rooftops as you play with the sea flanking your left hand side. The sixth hole, stroke index one, is perhaps the best hole on the course. Playing perilously close to the edge of the crag, the approach to this par four is guarded by a gully in front of a deceptively sloping green. The old clubhouse was located at the back of this green, so one assumes it was a particularly fine finishing hole in days gone by. It’s a fabulous hole demanding accuracy and precision with your club selection.
Holes 15 – 18
Back amongst the more typical parkland character, the final few holes at Caldy provide wonderful variety to close out the round. The fifteenth is a short hole that plays as a sharp right-hand dog-leg with multiple bunkers awaiting errant tee shots. The sixteenth is a long straight par four with a backdrop of distant farmland, and is followed by a striking downhill par three over water that serves as the penultimate challenge. The final push is a twisting, undulating par five that demands your attention off the tee before rising up towards the clubhouse. Four hugely enjoyable holes that leave you lamenting the fact that your round has come to an end.
The course at Caldy Golf Club feels very much like two separate courses melded into one. In the vicinity of the clubhouse, the opening pair of holes and majority of the back nine rolls through the parkland scenery, presenting a very pleasant and enjoyable challenge. Across the old railway line, however, and the cliff top boasts a sequence of holes that deliver lasting memories, with their marked variety and glorious views from this corner of the Wirral peninsula. And with its modern, comfortable clubhouse, you really have all you need for an excellent day out.
There are plenty of famous neighbours to choose from in this part of the world, but if you’re looking for the perfect complement (or indeed, alternative) to some of the tougher championship courses, look no further than Caldy.