‚ÄčIN THE BEGINNING...

Robert Chambers and George Morris were commissioned to lay out the original Hoylake 9 hole course which was opened in 1869 and extended to 18 holes two years later. 1871 was also the year in which the Club was granted its Royal designation, thanks to the patronage of His Royal Highness The Duke of Connaught.

For the first seven years of its life, the links land still performed its original function, doubling as a golf course and a horse racing track - indeed, echoes of this heritage can be found today in the names of the first and eighteenth holes, Course and Stand, while the original saddling bell still hangs in the clubhouse. Once the horses had been dispatched to pastures new Hoylake began to take its place in the history of golf in general and of the amateur game in particular.

HISTORIC MATCHES

In 1885 the links hosted the first Amateur Championship; in 1902 the first international match between England and Scotland, later to become the Home Internationals; and, in 1921, the first international match between Great Britain and the United States of America, which would turn out to be the prototype Walker Cup.

In fact, it is Royal Liverpool Golf Club's contribution to the amateur game that has set it apart from all other clubs in England. Although, at the end of the nineteenth century, it was the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews that took on the role of the governing body in golf as the game developed, it was at Hoylake that the rules of amateur status were laid down.

LEGENDARY GOLFERS

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, British golf was dominated by Hoylake’s John Ball, arguably the greatest, homegrown amateur of all time.

Born in 1861, he was the eldest son of John Ball, owner of the Royal Hotel which served as Royal Liverpool’s first clubhouse until 1895. ‘Johnny’  took up the game at an early age and, with a fine, challenging golf course literally on his doorstep, made rapid progress. In 1878, aged just 16, he finished fifth in The Open at Prestwick.

A decade later he won the first of his eight Amateur championship titles and, in 1890, The Open, once again staged at Prestwick. Ball’s career was remarkably long - he notched up his first Amateur win when he as 26, and his last when he was 51.

The record of Harold Hilton, Hoylake’s other favourite son, is just as impressive. He won the Open twice, in 1892 (the first year The Open was played over 72 holes), and again five years later, making him the only amateur apart from John Ball and Bobby Jones to win the title.

Hilton also won the Amateur Championship four times, was runner-up on three occasions and won the US Amateur Championship in 1911, the year in which he also held the British title. The man was obviously no slacker - in the same year he still found time to become the first editor of the new Golf Monthly magazine.

No history of Hoylake would be complete without mention of the legendary Bobby Jones, who can be thought of as Hoylake’s adopted son. In 1930 the Club was privileged to host his winning of the Open Championship, a victory that would become the second leg of his remarkable Grand Slam - the winning in the same year of the Amateur and Open Championships of both Great Britain and the United States.

GREAT CHAMPIONSHIPS

Royal Liverpool has hosted The Open 12 times but, after Roberto De Vicenzo was crowned Champion golfer in 1967, Hoylake was deemed not to have the infrastructure necessary for a major. The Open returned 39 years later, following some hard and thoughtful work by the Club which involved the purchase of additional land and improvements to the course designed, amongst other things, to meet the demands set by increasingly athletic big hitters.

In 2006 Hoylake proved admirably that it now has what it takes to stage one of the greatest tournaments in the world. The fabled mighty winds did not blow, but there was no denying that another mighty champion was born... in the shape of one Eldrick "Tiger" Woods, who brilliantly navigated his way across a sun baked and lightning fast links. 

2012 saw the first ever playing of the Women's British Open at Hoylake. With the London Olympics impacting on the sporting schedule, the event was moved to September and the weather predictably impacted on proceedings as we saw the cancellation of play on the Friday. However, despite the trying conditions, as so often has happened before, a great champion emerged to take the title. Jiyai Shin's steely determination and ability to transcend the meteorological challenges resulted in a procession as she defeated the field by 9 shots.

In 2014, Rory McIlroy clinched his first Open Championship and third major title with a two-shot victory over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler on a thrilling final day at Hoylake.The Northern Irishman joined Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win three of golf's modern majors by the age of 25.

This year, Royal Liverpool’s 150th anniversary, the Club is the proud host of the Walker Cup. The match will be a fitting way to celebrate Hoylake’s role in the development of the amateur game.