Yorkshire makes a great fuss about its sporting credentials. From cricket, to cycling, to their showing in the Olympic medal table, you simply cannot ignore the quality of what Yorkshire has to offer (their total of 14 would have beaten New Zealand, South Africa and Canada). Whisper it quietly, though, but Yorkshire is also setting the pace when it comes to the quality of its golf.
Not only can it claim no fewer than three Ryder Cup venues, it also boasts some of the scenic and historically rich courses anywhere in the UK. For anyone contemplating a golf break without the many hours travelling that a trip to St Andrews entails, Yorkshire offers some deliciously rich pickings.
The Pick of the Crop
Arguably the pick of the crop is the unfashionable but splendidly genteel Ganton Golf Club in the Vale of Pickering. Set eleven miles inland from Scarborough and laid out in 1891, the course has all the feel of a seaside links. Its 6,998 yards of rolling fairways and innumerable, cavernous bunkers give the 1949 Ryder Cup venue the unique charm of a links without the sea. The list of those who have contributed to its design will tell serious golf fans all they need to know: Vardon, Ray, Braid, Taylor, Colt and MacKenzie. Course designers don’t come any better.
The Golden Triangle
Close rivals to Ganton in terms of layout and sporting challenge are to be found on the northern fringe of the thriving city of Leeds. Alwoodly and Moortown are the stand outs amongst a spray of excellent courses the encircle Yorkshire’s unofficial capital city.
Moortown staged the 1929 Ryder Cup. It is a regular Open qualifying course and boasts not only picturesque moorland views, but also some fiendishly challenging holes. It is magnificent.
Sitting cheek by jowl with Moortwon is Alwoodly which enjoys the same high, well drained rolling heathland and moorland topography and an equally testing layout. Alwoodly is notable as the first creation of the great Alistair Mackenzie. But the Leeds Golf Club, Ilkley, Pannal, and Moor Allerton are just four more courses fringing Leeds’s northern margins – what the locals call the golden triangle – that warrant a passing mention.
The third of Yorkshire’s Ryder Cup courses is Lindrick in South Yorkshire which hosted the famous tournament in 1957 – an event notable as the first GB and Ireland win in 24 years. At 6,000 yards Lindrick is too short for serious professional competition, but for mere mortals it still represents a test as well as a treat.
Golfing Hospitality at its Best
Less vaunted historically but no less playable is the rolling parkland of Oulton Hall, to the South of Leeds. Outon Hall golf packages benefit offer 27 beautifully manicured and subtly challenging holes – as laid out by contemporary designer Dave Thomas – in combination with an impeccably well-appointed four star hotel. You could hardly wish for a more comfortable base from which to explore the golden golfing treats that Yorkshire has to offer.
And away from the extravagant history and proud boasts of its premiere venues Yorkshire also boasts courses that evoke the spirit of a bygone age. The delightfully picturesque nine-hole challenge offered by the Ben Rhydding golf club, set against the majestic back-drop of Ilkley Moor’s famous Cow and Calf Rocks, is a nostalgic delight. From its home-made honesty box to the invariably relaxed welcome of its membership, Ben Rhydding is the perfect example of how Yorkshire may have plenty of big hitters to recommend it, but how it also boasts a rich seam of gold medal class alternatives.