The Silloth golf course has been a major visitor attraction ever since Davy Grant laid it out it in 1892 over the linksland west of the docks. It has evolved continuously since then, including contributions from two of the great classic designers: Willie Park Junior and Dr Alister MacKenzie. A number of blind holes still remain, architecturally-incorrect in the modern era, but a source of uncertainty, surprise and occasional delight to successive generations of members and visitors. Some of the original sandy wastes remain as heroic hazards, but the course is mostly clad in mature dune flora that is ideal for presenting the great challenge of links golf. The fairways are covered in the springiest of Cumbrian turf, inviting crisp iron shots and courageous woods. Shoreward holes on the way out are mostly framed by high sandhills covered with heather and bent; gorse prevails on the back nine. The fairways are never generous in width, but always more rewarding than first appearance from the tee.
Three holes are typical. The elevated tee on the par 3 Ninth looks down on a small island green with a steep fall to the right, protected to the front and side by an array of deep bunkers that demand an accurate shot from anything between a wedge and three iron, depending on the wind.
Silloth’s signature hole is the par 5 Thirteenth, with a drive over gorse to a deceptively wide fairway. A tight second through a narrow gully, into the prevailing wind, must negotiate an angled slope that deflects all but the most accurate of approaches to an elevated green at the top of a ridge.
The final hole requires an accurate drive on to an angled fairway, usually with the help of the prevailing wind, before a long approach in to the final green under the critical gaze of those safely ensconced in the Nineteenth Hole. The player can then enjoy the comforts of the busy and atmospheric clubhouse: a meal made with local produce and above all, a warm Cumbrian welcome.
The course has hosted a number of national championships, including the 2009 British Mid-Amateur, won convincingly by Club member, John Longcake. For a number of years, it was the northern regional qualifying venue for the Open Championship, in 2012 it hosted the English Amateur Championship won by Harry Ellis and 2022 will see the club host the Carris Trophy.
The great golf writer Bernard Darwin wrote about his first visit to the course in 1925. Ever the traditionalist, and never one to hide his enthusiasms, he wound up his account:
‘I never more violently fell in love with a course at first sight.’
Silloth CA7 4BL, United Kingdom