Royal Birkdale Golf Club is a golf course in the town of Southport, England, and is one of the clubs in the Open Championship rotation for both men and women. It has hosted the men’s championship nine times, first in 1954 and most recently in July 2008. It is scheduled to host the 2017 Open Championship. Previous winners of the Open at Royal Birkdale are Pádraig Harrington, Mark O’Meara, Ian Baker-Finch, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer and Peter Thomson (twice). It hosted the women’s tournament for a sixth time in 2014, and was the site of the Senior Open Championship in 2013.
Royal Birkdale has also hosted the Ryder Cup (1965, 1969), the Walker Cup (1951), and the Curtis Cup (1948). Founded as Birkdale Golf Club in 1889, the club was awarded “Royal” status in 1951. Birkdale Golf Club moved to a new site in Birkdale Hills in 1894 and built a new distinctive art deco clubhouse in 1935. In early 1939 Birkdale was nominated as the venue for the 1940 Open Championship but World War II started in September 1939 and the Championship was cancelled. In 1946, the club finally hosted its first big championship in The Amateur Championship, won by Irishman James Bruen. During the immediate post-war era, the club also hosted the 1948 Curtis Cup and the 1951 Walker Cup, both won by the United States. With these successful stagings of important events, Royal Birkdale was felt to be ready for its first Open Championship in 1954 and the club has been on the Open rota ever since.
Three generations of the Hawtree family of golf course architects have worked on the course. Frederick G. Hawtree and champion golfer J.H. Taylor are the two people most responsible for the current routing, following the valleys between the very large dunes which dominate the property. The arrangement makes for excellent spectator conditions during major events. Frederick W. Hawtree, the son of Frederick G, performed some modifications in the 1960s and in 1993 Martin Hawtree, son of Frederick W., improved and modernised the layout further, with all 18 of the club’s greens being completely rebuilt, to improve turf and drainage following the 1991 Open Championship.Only relatively minor tweaking, such as the addition of a few new bunkers and back tees, has been deemed necessary in advance of the last two Open Championships. The course was ranked as the 18th best in the world outside the United States, in the 2007 rankings by Golf Digest magazine.