The golf courses of West Yorkshire are numerous and varied with many famous courses in the area designed by famous golf course architects, Alister MacKenzie in particular but Harry Colt and Robert Trent Jones Snr have examples of their work in the area.
Leeds, perhaps, has more than it’s fair share of good courses with a healthy concentration in the north of the city. The close proximity of Alwoodley, Moortown, Moor Allerton, Sand Moor, Headingley and Scarcroft ensure that even the most demanding of golfing connoisseurs is catered for.
There are, though, many unsung golf courses in West Yorkshire that don’t always get their deserved exposure.
Harry Colt and Alister MacKenzie were involved again in the design of Ilkey GC a beautiful layout with the River Wharfe in play on the left of the first 7 holes. Golfers with a hook beware!
The club is particularly proud with it’s connection with Ryder Cup star Colin Montgomerie who grew up in the area and learnt his golf at Ilkley.
MacKenzie was involved in another good West Yorkshire test of golf at Bingley St Ives where the courses varies between parkland, woodland, moorland and back again as it examines your full golf game. Formerly a municipal golf course, Bingley St Ives hosted the Lawrence Batley International tournament in 1981, 1982 & 1983 won by Sandy Lyle (twice) and Nick Faldo and attracted other top stars like Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino. The club became a private members club in 1990.
James Braid is another designer who has made his mark on golf courses in West Yorkshire. An excellent layout of his can be played on the exposed to the elements course of Baildon GC high up on the moorlands.
Collaborating with Tom Morris on this design, they created an uncompromising golf course that rewards straight hitting. An equally spectacular setting is the Halifax GC up on the moors near Ogden reservoir. This time teaming up with Alex Herd, Braid created a course where every hole is different and one that demands creative shot making as the wind plays an integral part in the golfing examination.
Equally exposed is the moorland Branshaw GC, situated in Bronte country, James Braid again used the natural terrain and elements to fashion a golf course to test the best.
The views from these three moorland layouts are truly breathtaking as the full majesty of the West Yorkshire landscape is opened to the eye.
Braid was involved in designing the less rugged but no less interesting golf course at Northcliffe GC near Shipley. This time he teamed up with Harry Vardon to create a very interesting course with some attractive yet benign holes balanced with some brutes. Again this course tests all of your game, you need strength and finesse, creativity and pragmatism to score well at Northcliffe.
Any guide to golf courses in West Yorkshire must include the duo of Huddersfield GC and Woodsome Hall.
Fixby Hall is the magnificent clubhouse of Huddersfield GC that hosts an equally good golf course. The first nine is gentler on the legs as it winds in a loop through parkland back to the clubhouse but the hillier back nine tests stamina to the finish. An old established club Fixby numbers a Who’s Who of architects and designers that have had an influence over the years, including Tom Dunn, Alex Herd, W Herbert Fowler, Dr Alister MacKenzie, Hawtree and Donald Steel. And as recently as 2004 spent half a million pounds on upgrading all 18 greens to USGA specifications.
Woodsome Hall GC has a magnificent clubhouse of it’s own dating back to the 16th Century and the course is laid out in the estate of the hall. The first tee is from the lawns of the hall giving a wonderful backdrop to the opening shot of the round. The course is not excessively long but quite hilly placing a premium on accurate shot making in order to build a good score.
There are over 80 golf courses in West Yorkshire and all offer their unique challenges. With it’s excellent network of roads the densely populated urban areas soon open out into golfing country where you are sure to find a golf course to your taste.