Best Golf Courses In Lancashire

Although the very best golf courses in Lancashire are its brilliant collection of championship links, there is great variety within these as well as plenty of excellent inland golf

Best Golf Courses in Lancashire - Royal Birkdale
The par-3 fourteenth at Royal Birkdale, Golf Monthly’s leading course in England
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Best Golf Courses In Lancashire

With around 140 clubs affiliated to the county, Lancashire is packed with a wonderful mix of golf to suit all tastes and pockets. Spearheading its armoury are no fewer than six Golf Monthly Top 100 courses, all of them links, but remarkably varied in their look and feel. Some even have trees! The strength in depth is equally diverse with less well-known courses dotting the coast as well as plenty of heathland and even parkland beauties. It is home to several of the best links courses in the UK and some of the best golf courses in England. This look at its many highlights begins with the big names but hopefully introduces a few that you may want to add to your hit-list.

Royal Birkdale

Royal Birkdale - Hole 1

The opening hole at Royal Birkdale is a very testing right-to-left par 4

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location Southport
  • Founded 1889
  • Architect George Lowe, FG Hawtree & JH Taylor, FW Hawtree, Martin Hawtree
  • GF Round £260 - Mon-Fri, £285 Weekend
  • Par 72, 6,817 yards
  • Contact Royal Birkdale Golf Club (opens in new tab)

The leading English course in the Golf Monthly Top 100 - number 7 in the 2021/22 rankings - has hosted the Open Championship no fewer than ten times as well as two Ryder Cups. This quite wonderful links is blessed with some of the finest dunes in the country with the opening hole setting the scene perfectly; an extremely tough dogleg right to left with a magnetic bunker set into a hummock waiting at the corner. More sand left and right protects the entrance to the green, and a par here is a theoretical birdie for most. A further seventeen individual and memorable treats await.

Read full Royal Birkdale course review

Royal Lytham & St Annes

Royal Lytham & St Annes - Hole 18

The very recognisable approach to the closing hole at Royal Lytham & St Annes

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Lytham St Annes
  • Founded 1897
  • Architect George Lowe, Harry Colt
  • GF Round £245 Sun-Fri, £305 Sat
  • Par 71, 6,882 yards
  • Contact Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Unusually for one of our most demanding links tests, the suburban setting here completely separates the course from the coast. This is perhaps most in evidence at the far end where the picturesque short 9th is surrounded by a pearl necklace of deep and beautifully revetted bunkers that spread out symmetrically on either side. Despite its slightly more enclosed nature with the railway bordering several holes, it’s still a classic links as well as a very testing golf course that has hosted the Open 11 times.

Read full Royal Lytham & St Annes course review

Hillside

Hillside Golf Club - Hole 7

The short seventh at Hillside, one of the most majestic links in the country

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location Southport
  • Founded 1911
  • Architect FW Hawtree
  • GF Round £199 Mon-Fri, £230 Weekend
  • Par 72, 6,849 yards
  • Contact Hillside Golf Club (opens in new tab)

This ever-improving links is packed with strong and individual holes, every one presented in pristine condition. The routing takes you initially alongside a magnetic railway, then over gently undulating fairways, through majestic sand dunes and amongst scenic pines where you may be lucky enough to spot a red squirrel. Stand-out holes on a terrifically strong course include the photogenic short 10th which plays deceptively long into the wind, and the beautiful and serpentine par-5 11th. The recent dune reconstruction work from MacKenzie & Ebert is extremely impressive.

Read full Hillside Golf Club course review

Formby

Formby Golf Club - Hole 9

The front nine at Formby concludes with a wonderful par 4 out towards the shore

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location Formby
  • Founded 1884
  • Architect Willie Park Junior, James Braid, Harry Colt, Donald Steel, Mackenzie & Ebert
  • GF Round £200 Mon-Fri, £220 Sat after 15:30 and Sun after 11:30
  • Par 72, 6,725 yards
  • Contact Formby Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Situated right in the centre of England’s golf coast, Formby is a historic club with a wonderful course that sits proudly in 41st place in the Golf Monthly Top 100. Coastal erosion over many years has led to changes, and a few more are in the planning and development stages with the forward-thinking members keen to safeguard the future and quality of this beautiful and varied links. The course is kept in tip-top order and runs in an anti-clockwise direction around the lovely and surprisingly demanding Formby Ladies course, itself also very much recommended.

Read full Formby Golf Club course review

Southport & Ainsdale

Southport & Ainsdale - Hole 1

The opening hole at Southport & Ainsdale is a beautifully-bunkered par 3

(Image credit: Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club)
  • Location Southport
  • Founded 1907
  • Architect George Lowe, James Braid
  • GF Round £175 Mon-Fri, £190 Weekend
  • Par 72, 6,848 yards
  • Contact Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Immediately the other side of the same railway line that borders Hillside, S&A was host of the 1933 and 1937 Ryder Cups. James Braid designed the current layout in 1923, and it has just the one starting point, a par 3. The abiding memory of golf over this splendid course is the need either to play a shot that is aimed for the middle of a winding valley, or a shot that is meant to carry a ridge leading over to the next valley. In an area packed with pristine golf, this is one of the best and most memorable links.

Read full Southport & Ainsdale course review

West Lancashire

West Lancashire - Hole 13

The excellent par-4 thirteenth works its way to a green that needs no bunkers for protection

(Image credit: West Lancashire Golf Club)
  • Location Liverpool
  • Founded 1873
  • Architect FW Hawtree, CK Cotton
  • GF Round £160 Mon-Fri, £180 Weekend
  • Par 72, 6,706 yards
  • Contact West Lancashire Golf Club (opens in new tab)

The West Lancashire Golf Club is the oldest club in the county as well as one of the oldest in the country. Its excellent course was substantially remodelled in the 1960s by Fred Hawtree, and it is a supreme test of golf, traditional-looking over relatively level ground, mature and fully engaging from start to finish. It was home to a very successful and well-received Women’s British Amateur Championship in 2020, and some have suggested that it may be the best course never to have staged The Open!

Read full West Lancashire course review

St Annes Old Links - Hole 9

The short ninth at St Annes Old Links is played to a must-hit punchbowl green

(Image credit: St Annes Old Links)
  • Location Lytham St Annes
  • Founded 1901
  • Architect George Lowe, Sandy Herd
  • GF Round £93 Mon-Fri am, check website for details
  • Par 72, 6,631 yards
  • Contact St Annes Old Links Golf Club (opens in new tab)

This superb Golf Monthly Next 100 links would be far better-known were it not surrounded by so many world-famous names. It’s yet another very strong, championship-standard test of golf that is capable of challenging the best golfers while still being fully playable and enjoyable by all. The very attractive par 3 that closes the front nine involves an encounter with no fewer than eight bunkers. Four stand guard to block your path while the remainder lie in wait right alongside the long but narrow green. This is the signature hole and plays to a maximum length of 174 yards.

Bolton Old Links - Hole 13

At 550 yards, the thirteenth at Bolton Old Links is comfortably the longest hole in the course

(Image credit: Bolton Old Links)
  • Location Bolton
  • Founded 1891
  • Architect Alister MacKenzie
  • GF Round £45-£55, check website for details
  • Par 72, 6,451 yards
  • Contact Bolton Old Links Golf Club (opens in new tab)

This Alister MacKenzie design is a challenging and very enjoyable par 72 layout. There are two loops of nine with the front half surrounded by the back, and its lovely but exposed moorland location means that the wind has a regular bearing on events. From the highest point at the 12th tee, there are marvellous far-reaching views, and the feature hole is probably the very attractive short 14th at the far end of the course.

Chorley

Chorley Golf Club - Hole 1

The opening hole at Chorley sets the tone perfectly for a very attractive round of golf

(Image credit: Chorley Golf Club)
  • Location Chorley
  • Founded 1897
  • Architect Jack Steer
  • GF Round £40-£45 Mon-Fri
  • Par 71, 6,284 yards
  • Contact Chorley Golf Club (opens in new tab)

If you value setting and scenery in your golf, Chorley will tick a lot of these boxes and more. The club was founded in 1897, but it was almost thirty years before it settled on its current site where the course offers something for everyone both in terms of golfing examination and fun. Several sloping fairways ask some tricky questions, and the 4th, 11th, 12th, and 15th are all outstanding two-shotters. There is great diversity and it is presented in fine condition with true greens.

Read full Chorley Golf Club course review

Fairhaven

Fairhaven Golf Club - Hole 6

There are no fewer than ten bunkers to avoid on the par-4 sixth at Fairhaven

(Image credit: Fairhaven Golf Club)
  • Location Lytham St Annes
  • Founded 1895
  • Architect Jack Steer & James Braid
  • GF Round £90 Mon-Thu, £105 Fri-Sun
  • Par 73, 6,764 yards
  • Contact Fairhaven Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Fairhaven was designed by James Braid just under a century ago when the club moved slightly inland from their original seaside location. The course opens and closes with par 5s, between which it plays over essentially flat terrain, with plenty of quite deep revetted bunkers throughout. The shortish par-4 6th is a highlight, requiring strategic thinking and good placement, while another bunker-rich hole is the shortish par-3 17th where the front and sides of the green are protected by no fewer than eight. Avoid the sand… almost impossible… and you should score well!

Formby Ladies

Formby Ladies - Hole 5

Formby Ladies is packed with attractive golf such as here at the par-3 fifth

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Formby
  • Founded 1896
  • Architect Not Known
  • GF Round £82 Mon-Fri, £97 Weekend
  • Par 71, 5,356 yards
  • Contact Formby Ladies Golf Club (opens in new tab)

As at Royal Ashdown in Sussex, this is a course that was designed for a ladies’ club. This time it is one that still exists independently, with its own charming clubhouse just yards from the main Formby Club. The course may be short, but it runs through an absolute carpet of heather and is an excellent test of shot-making. There are cracking short holes at the 5th and 12th, as well as several excellent green sites such as those at the 4th, 9th, and 11th. This is a delightful and very attractive course, not without its challenges, but great fun.

Hesketh

Hesketh Golf Club - Hole 16

Looking back from behind the green on the excellent par-3 sixteenth at Hesketh

(Image credit: Hesketh Golf Club)
  • Location Southport
  • Founded 1885
  • Architect George Lowe
  • GF Round £75 Mon-Fri, £95 Weekend
  • Par 72, 6,712 yards
  • Contact Hesketh Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Hesketh is set between the estuary and the towering Victorian villas of Hesketh Park. The clubhouse dominates the landscape, standing as it does at the crest of a tall sandhill. The course is a superb mix of styles with half the holes threaded through tall sand dunes, and the other half bordering the estuary across which the mountains provide an unforgettable backdrop. One of the club’s members was Arnold Bentley who led the British golfing triumph at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. Hitler was decidedly unimpressed and presented Bentley, along with his trophy, a fir tree. This still sits outside the clubhouse, allegedly thriving due to its regular respectful ‘watering’ by the members!

Manchester

Manchester Golf Club - Hole 12

The approach to the par-4 twelfth at Manchester Golf Club

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Middleton, Manchester
  • Founded 1882
  • Architect Harry Colt
  • GF Round £40-£50 Mon-Fri, £50-£60 Sun
  • Par 72, 6,491 yards
  • Contact Manchester Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Familiarly known as Hopwood, Manchester Golf Club is blessed with a wonderful Harry Colt course that sprawls over a glorious expanse of gently undulating countryside. Just a few miles from the city centre and close by the M62, the contrast could not be greater as you work your way around eighteen distinct, testing and memorable holes kept in fine condition. Opening with a short, appealing par 4, there are then back-to-back par 5s before the 4th, a beautiful short hole in a natural dell beyond a stream. Strong holes feature all the way, and back in the characterful clubhouse, the welcome is extremely warm, and the food plentiful and tasty.

Read full Manchester Golf Club course review

Ormskirk

Ormskirk Golf Club - Hole 7

The long par-4 seventh at Ormskirk plays uphill and requires two strong blows

(Image credit: Ormskirk Golf Club)
  • Location Ormskirk
  • Founded 1899
  • Architect Harold Hilton, Charles MacKenzie
  • GF Round £70 Mon-Fri, £100 Sat, £85 Sun
  • Par 70, 6,533 yards
  • Contact Ormskirk Golf Club (opens in new tab)

This tough parkland course was extended to a full 18 in 1903 by Harold Hilton, the founding editor of Golf Monthly. He had previously won The Open twice back in the 1890s, and his design was subsequently upgraded in the 1930s by Charles MacKenzie, younger brother of Alister. The dominant feature is its very strong par 4s, seven of which exceed 400 yards and the shortest of which is still 369 yards from the back tee. Most run through dense woodland, giving them a pleasing sense of isolation, and a significant amount of dog-legging means that positional play from the tee is important in order to see the green. Overall, a strong test of golf in a very pleasant and peaceful countryside location.

Pleasington

Pleasington Golf Club - Hole 5

Flanked by a ditch to the right, the par-4 fifth at Pleasington is a beautiful hole

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Blackburn
  • Founded 1891
  • Architect George Lowe, Sandy Herd, Ken Moodie
  • GF Round £30-£75, check with club for details
  • Par 71, 6,327 yards
  • Contact Pleasington Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Pleasington is situated in a remarkably attractive and peaceful location between Preston and Blackburn. Its pretty course is at the end of an impressive and sympathetic 5-year renovation under the expert guidance of architect Ken Moodie. From the 4th hole on, the course is packed with real variety and distinctive holes you simply won’t find elsewhere. The 7th was one of the most eccentric par 5s, perhaps too quirky, but it has benefited from the recent upgrade which has made it a great deal fairer with a far better view of the green. Beyond it, at the far end of the course, the 8th is a very pretty short hole. Variety, views and value!

Read full Pleasington Golf Club course review

Lancashire is home to such a vast treasure trove of golf that it’s almost impossible to mention all of the best. While every course highlighted above is very much to be recommended and includes all of the biggest names, there are many hidden gems and clubs that don’t shout about themselves. You could spend years unearthing all of the great golf in Lancashire, but hopefully this guide will at least point you in the right direction.