Date: 3/23/16 Wed Morning
Conditions: Average - isolated issues
Pace: 3 1/2 Hours
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I last played this course in February 2013 because of the (now) well documented problems. I decided to give it a try to see how it was under new/reorganized management, and to see how "Senior friendly" it is. Some course conditions, and a fairly strong, steady breeze combined for a less than stellar (enjoyable) outing. All of the tee bases are sparse, with no green grass whatsoever. The fairways are brown, but beginning to show signs of greening up following Winter. The greens have been aerated recently, and still have lots of sand on them (Consensus of my threesome: they were slow and bumpy, and made putting quite problematic). I, personally, take issue with the existing sloping of the fairways. It seemed as if, no matter where one hit the ball (fairway, fringe, or rough) the sloping terrain always caused the ball to roll into either a bunker or a hazard. Another inconsistency was that the greens, for being so slow for putting, did not hold approach shots. This was particularly exasperating on the Par 5 fifth hole where my second shot landed in the fairway yet, because of the slope, rolled into the water on the right side , almost 90 degrees from the direction it was traveling when it landed. After retrieving my ball and taking a drop, my wedge shot hit the green just beyond the pin, but continued to roll into the bunker behind the green. In all honesty, I hit three successive shots that were well struck, but ended up with a bogey instead of birdie because of course conditions! I do NOT consider Birkdale to be Senior friendly. First of all, I could not find any marked tees that did not exceed the recommended Play-It-Forward yardage range for my average driving distance (I played the White tees as did my two partners, also seniors). The longer yardages, coupled with the strong breeze severely reduced the number of opportunities for hitting the greens in regulation. Another inconvenience, for seniors, is the inability to drive the cart to one's car to unload after the round. Birkdale does offer a Senior rate of $35, which is not too bad. However, it didn't seem like such a bargain compared to my round last week at Olde Sycamore where, because their greens had been recently aerated, they had a flat rate of $25 for all (and respective course conditions were so much better). Finally, a personal bias - the driving range uses mats instead of grass/sod. That may not be a bother to many golfers, but I absolutely detest hitting off a mat. In summary, it may be another 3 years (if ever) before I return to play at Birkdale.