LINKS ALONG THE LINE
South-west Lancashire boasts the largest, and arguably the finest, tract of coastal sand dunes in the country. It is the home of an extraordinary cluster of golf courses. These clubs have justifiably attained an international reputation; both Southport and Ainsdale and Royal Birkdale have hosted Ryder Cup matches with the United States; Royal Birkdale is a regular venue for the Open Championship; whilst West Lancashire, Formby, Hillside and Hesketh have for many years staged major championships and representative matches, both amateur and professional.
A feature of this golfing coast is Merseyrail's Northern Line. West Lancashire, Formby, Southport and Ainsdale, and Hillside all have holes where a slice or a pull will put a ball over the railway fence and "out of bounds". The same was true of the Freshfield Club until the Royal Air Force requisitioned its links for an airfield during World War 2. Royal Birkdale does not flank 'the Line', although contemporary professionals could probably drive a ball from this course, across the Hillside links, onto the railway.
This hardback book with over eighty superb illustrations traces how the south-west Lancashire coast got its golf courses - the Links Along the Line. It is the story of the pioneers who founded the clubs; there is a major emphasis on the critical roles played by the landowners and the railway company and the relationship of the promotion of golf to their commercial interests; an examination of the visionary contribution of the local authority; and - a dimension understandably neglected in individual club histories - the crucial inter-relationships between the clubs in the early years. The golfers, many members of more than one of the clubs, truly formed a community. Golf in south-west Lancashire is placed in its social, economic and spatial setting. It is argued that golf was not merely a response to change but one of the engines of change.
Sadly our edition of this book is now out of print, but a second edition has been published by Phillimore
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