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Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
HILLSIDE GC - 2022-23 Winter Tour New
« on: June 16, 2008, 05:45:45 AM »
Cheek by jowl with the links of Royal Birkdale and Southport & Ainsdale, Hillside has long been a celebrated Lancashire championship course. Founded in 1911, Hillside originally played over 9 holes. By 1925 ten new holes were developed to complete an 18 design. In the 1960s Fred Hawtree redesigned the back nine through substantial dunes and it is these holes whose praises are sung the loudest. In recent years Martin & Ebert has been tinkering with the course with the creation of sand scrapes, building dunes on the front nine, opening a dune slack for water and replacing some bunkered areas with short grass fall-aways. I don’t know Hillside terribly well, but from memory, the recent changes are mainly for the better.

The 1st is a gentle opener, but the 2nd is a very good par 5.  I think the tees may have been moved to the right a bit to create a driving different anagle. There is trouble lurking off the tee; a ditch right and the railway line left. I think that is the Gumbley's over the tracks.


The approach to #2.  My memory suggests there was an additional bunker on the right.


I do like offset driving holes; #3. 

 
The ditch is well placed for players who need to bounce the approach to the green.




The short 4th has been radically reshaped. Dunes left and right and sand scrapes have been introduced. Although the green remains the same, the left bunkers have been removed to create a fall-away.


Another long hole, the 5th plays between dunes on the second shot.


Making the turn for the house, the tough two-shotter 6th slides a bit left. An attractive hole, the par 3 seventh's green butts into the 8th tee. Several bunkers protect the front of the green and in keen conditions it can require a good shot to hold the putting surface. Another hole moving left to right, the 8th. New bunkers down the right.




We played the 6800 markers and a handful of holes went to the back tees. The 9th was one such hole with a dramatic tee shot. There is a new dune between the 9th and 1st (to the right) and new bunkers.




The back nine opens with a good uphill short hole. Below is an old photo. 


The snaking three-shot 11th seems to be Hillside's most famous hole. It is certainly the most attractive of the back nine holes cutting through dunes.




The 12th plays around a pond. There is a large knuckle as the first part of the green which is engaging. The highly unnatural looking and difficult 13th cuts through the middle of a dune much like a motorway ripping through the South Downs. I am reminded of Wallasey's 17th.


The 14th is another where we played the back tee. There are great views toward Blackpool Tower and the Lake District to the north.


A flat hole turning sharply left, the 15th is one of the better holes on the back nine. There is a scattering of bunkers on the left which bleed toward the middle of the fairway. A hidden fallaway right of the green is a difficult spot from which to get up and down. Unfortunately, these days some club golfers can play over the trees and be left with a wedge.


Hillside's only bunkerless hole, the 16th is a straightforward par 3, but not necessarily easy. Below is a look at the green from the 17th tee.


Similar to the 13th, the 17th is a dead straight, rather dull hole. I can't help thinking so much more could have been done with this back 9.  However, I do like the approach.


I like the look of 18.  The fairway takes the long player out to the left. One can try to take on the right bunkers, but they are a long carry.  Some changes have recently taken place which make the hole more attractive and widens the fairway gap between the bunkers on the left dune. Tee shot before and after. I am surprised the car park wasn't blocked by a fake dune.




It has been about 15 years since I last saw Hillside...I still think the front nine is the better of the two sides. While a handsome course, I don't think Hillside is in the class of a few other non-Open venues such as Formby or West Lancs.  The main reason is I can't point to any hole as being great. This uneasiness is especially the case for the back nine. However, Hillside is packed with good golf as evidenced by its hosting the Amateur, Ladies Amateur, Open Final Qualifying and several professional tournaments.  I suspect my opinion is an outlier because Hillside is often ranked very highly.  2023

Ciao
« Last Edit: April 19, 2023, 01:19:57 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Ashridge, Kennemer, de Pan, Eindhoven, Hilversumche, Royal Ostend, Alnmouth & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Mark_Rowlinson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: HILLSIDE Revisited
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2008, 05:35:02 PM »
Sean, Start looking at the positives and stop being so negative. You may have failed to break 70 because the fairways turn at the wrong distance, but when they next need to host the PGA Championship or the like I'm sure they can find some tees 150 yards further back. I presume they are already there for this year's Open final qualifying.... It's a pretty good course. Mark

David_Tepper

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: HILLSIDE Revisited
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2008, 05:53:35 PM »
Sean -

Thanks for posting the Hillside pics. I played there in 1985.

Remember, what is now a "lay-up" tee shot used to be a full-blooded drive not all that long ago! ;)

DT

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: HILLSIDE Revisited
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2008, 06:50:54 PM »
Sean, Start looking at the positives and stop being so negative. You may have failed to break 70 because the fairways turn at the wrong distance, but when they next need to host the PGA Championship or the like I'm sure they can find some tees 150 yards further back. I presume they are already there for this year's Open final qualifying.... It's a pretty good course. Mark

Mark, I think of what could have been on this dream site. Still, I take your point.  Hillside is a good course.

Mark, you are right, there are a handful of back tees nearly ready to open.  Of course, these guys blow the ball miles past me so I don't think the layup aspect for a player of my calibre will enter their minds except for a few holes with breaks in the fairway.

Ciao
« Last Edit: April 04, 2023, 12:53:17 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Ashridge, Kennemer, de Pan, Eindhoven, Hilversumche, Royal Ostend, Alnmouth & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: HILLSIDE Revisited
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2008, 02:11:34 AM »
Sean,

you are correct that the back nine despite its much more dramatic setting is not as good as the frount nine. I feel this down to the fact that for me Hawtree seemed more interrested in setting a solid golfing test which was often at the expense of the dramatic and doesn't lend itself to individuality with holes or courses. Having said that it is difficult to see how Hawtree could have routed the dune valley holes another way other than playing over them (as Birkdale used to be) leaving a series of blind shots.

The 11th would be a far better hole if the fairway was as wide as possible with centerline bunkers leaving a safe play with a blind shot from a hanging lie. Maybe the answer would be to redo the bunkering, some of the tees and the cutting lines.

It shouldn't be forgotten that Hillside has always seen itself as a championship course hosting the european tour events up until the 1980's. With such an image Cruden Bay style golf doesn't cut it. Hillside will be set up for the Open Qualifier although it is usually narrow but you are correct in that it would be far better opened up.

As with most links courses how Hillside plays is dependent on the weather. I played Hillside for the first time in 1987 at the age of 18 when I was carrying my driver an average of 235 yards. I remember playing the 18th with the wind from behind and left to right. I was able to shape the ball round the bunkers (265yards) leaving a short iron to the green. The Dogleg on 15 (230ish) was unreachable.

I do however agree with you Hillside is a great chance wasted.


Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: HILLSIDE Revisited
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2008, 03:20:23 AM »
Jon

I think you are right.  Hillside is a fairly tough course that seems designed to test certain shots rather than offer options for guys to choose shots.

Ciao   
« Last Edit: April 08, 2023, 03:49:28 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Ashridge, Kennemer, de Pan, Eindhoven, Hilversumche, Royal Ostend, Alnmouth & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Mark_Rowlinson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: HILLSIDE Revisited
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2008, 12:29:20 PM »
Sean, I wonder how much freedom Hawtree was given with the design given the sensitive nature of the dunes in this part of the Lancashire coast? There are very strict regulations applying to what Birkdale can and cannot do.

You allude to Birkdale's once crossing dunes rather than going along the valleys. I wonder also if at that time Hawtree was asked to do something similar, for in those days Birkdale was held up as a model championship links because of its fairness, lack of quirk and so on. I remember Dobereiner writing many years ago in his newspaper column that the Open should only be played on Birkdale and Muirfield because the rest left too much to chance. Nicklaus hated the pre-Hawtree course and apparently raved over the post-Hawtree course.

Donald Steel - who knows a thing or two about golf courses - describes Hillside: 'It is not one of aesthetic delight except towards the end but it is relentless in the challenge it sets and unforgiving if its standards aren't met.'

Andy Hughes

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: HILLSIDE Revisited
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2008, 01:15:42 PM »
Sean has cows?
"Perhaps I'm incorrect..."--P. Mucci 6/7/2007

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: HILLSIDE Revisited
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2010, 09:58:03 AM »
I played with an interesting chap on Saturday who shed some light on why the back nine is cut so much through dunes rather than working with the dunes.  This fellow claimed that Hawtree wasn't paid for his work.  Instead, Hawtree cut a deal to sell all the sand left over to Pilkington Glass after the work was completed.  I don't know if this story is true, but it seems a plausible explanation for the design of the back nine. For you lot in the business, does this sound a plausible?

Ciao   
« Last Edit: June 02, 2016, 03:07:59 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Ashridge, Kennemer, de Pan, Eindhoven, Hilversumche, Royal Ostend, Alnmouth & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: HILLSIDE
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2021, 03:12:11 PM »
After looking at the golfcoursearchitecture article on the renovation work going on at Hillside, I wanted to know who had seen it and what they thought?



https://www.golfcoursearchitecture.net/content/mackenzie-ebert-renovates-six-more-holes-at-hillside
« Last Edit: March 31, 2021, 05:30:30 PM by Ally Mcintosh »

Duncan Cheslett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: HILLSIDE
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2021, 12:14:09 AM »
Bugger!


I just passed up the chance of a game at Hillside on Easter Monday in the interests of family harmony.

If I’d seen Ally’s post in time I’d have risked divorce and gone on a research mission!

Hopefully I’ll be invited again soon...😉
« Last Edit: April 01, 2021, 12:19:02 AM by Duncan Cheslett »

Dónal Ó Ceallaigh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: HILLSIDE
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2021, 05:16:21 AM »
After looking at the golfcoursearchitecture article on the renovation work going on at Hillside, I wanted to know who had seen it and what they thought?



https://www.golfcoursearchitecture.net/content/mackenzie-ebert-renovates-six-more-holes-at-hillside


Ally,


When I first saw the photo of the lake, I was sure you had posted a link to a Hillside in Thailand or Laos or somewhere else.


The fairways of Hillside look uninteresting; a bit like Birkdale. If my memory serves me well, F.W. Hawtree worked at Birkdale as well?


When we were at the BUDA in Silloth, we played S&A (which I enjoyed a lot) and Birkdale instead (poor Jeff Warne had planned the itinerary, but could't travel). I have never seen much praise for Hillside, and I was familiar with S&A (Braid). There are a lot of good holes at S&A and the layout makes good use of the terrain. Sure, some of the holes at the far end are not so exciting. The surrounding dunes at Birkdale only made me wonder what might have been; I'd probably have a similar feeling if I played Hillside.

EDIT: Are M&E also doing work at S&A?

I think Jeff made the right choice for us  :D
« Last Edit: April 01, 2021, 05:20:16 AM by Dónal Ó Ceallaigh »

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: HILLSIDE - 2022-23 Winter Tour
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2023, 07:19:54 AM »
The Winter Tour took me to Hillside a week or so ago. I must say much of the M&E is work is an improvement. For instance, the short 4th is miles better than the previous version. However, I still find the back 9 somewhat wanting despite the dunes. Please see the updated tour on a typical cloudy winter day.

Previous stops on the 2022-23 Winter Tour

Whittington Heath
https://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,35648.0.html

North Berwick
https://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,59363.0.html

Kings Norton
https://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,71728.0.html

Minch Old
https://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,48765.msg1100536.html#msg1100536

Welcombe Hotel - no photo tour

Painswick
https://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,51629.msg1181534.html#msg1181534

Planned Tour Stops

Formby
West Lancs
Wallasey
Southport & Ainsdale

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Ashridge, Kennemer, de Pan, Eindhoven, Hilversumche, Royal Ostend, Alnmouth & Cruden Bay St Olaf

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