What we say
Alwoodley Golf Club is among the best golf courses in England rivals anything in the Surrey belt. Golf World Top 100 editor Chris Bertram explains why we rank the West Yorkshire healthland so highly.
Alister MacKenzie has a link to more than 10 of our World Top 100, but nowhere is it stronger than at Alwoodley.
MacKenzie was a local GP who had developed a passion for course design. He was one of the founder members of the club – along with men such as GH Tetley (from the brewing giants) and England cricketers TL Taylor and the Hon. FS Jackson – and was also the club’s first secretary and present on the greens committee until 1930.
Most importantly, though, he was responsible for the layout of the course on land that had been leased from local aristocrat Lord Harewood.
It was to prove his first piece of work in a career that comprised impressive projects as far apart as Augusta National in Georgia to Cavendish in Derbyshire, Royal Melbourne in Australia to Cypress Point in California.
Conscious of its MacKenzie association (club historian Nick Leefe is Secretary of the MacKenzie Society), the club has undertaken a lengthy programme to return the course to the vision this now-iconic designer intended as well as enhance its heathland characteristics.
The work began with extensive tree clearance and has continued with extensive bunker renovation and encouraging heather – in addition to stretching it to nearly 6,800 yards to ensure it remains a test for the elite amateurs who frequently play here.
Alwoodley is laid out in distinct out and back loops with the inward half regarded as the tougher owing to the likelihood of being confronted by a stiff wind rolling in off the moors.
A relatively gentle start ends with your arrival on the 4th, a 478-yard par 4 played into the prevailing wind and amply protected by gorse, rough, sand and heather. It begins a stellar run, being followed by a sporty short 4, a stout two-shotter with a narrow, well-bunkered green and a pleasant short hole.
This trio builds the pace nicely and the 8th – a dog-leg par-5 with no easy lay-up and a multi-tiered green – nudges it up a notch further. The longest par 3 on the course – which plays downhill but needs a lot of club – completes the front half.
The back nine begins with a 475-yard par 5 that turns from right to left and whose rolling topography feels like one imagines holes at Augusta National to be; indeed, some suggest MacKenzie modelled the famous 13th at the Georgia club on The Alwoodley’s 10th.
It is one of the course’s highlights, but we might actually prefer the next, a brilliant uphill par 3 to a sloping green that is enclosed by trees.
The 13th is no anti-climax either, the tee offering a fabulous view down this classy par 4. After a strong par 3, the next two make it effortlessly easy to find yourself hopelessly out of position while the downhill 17th offers another chance to make a real mess of things.
The 18th presents more obvious difficulties, a 470-yard hole from an elevated tee deep among the gorse that is usually played into the wind. A four there makes refreshment in the distinctive clubhouse seem entirely justified.
- TG Rating
- Players Rating
- Address The Bungalow, Alwoodley Golf Club, Wigton Lane, LEEDS
- Tel 0113 268 9680
- Website www.alwoodley.co.uk
|Green Fees||£60 - £100|
|Course Length||6,338 yards (5,795 metres)|
- Course has: Bar
- Course does not have: Buggy Hire
- Course has: Driving Range
- Course does not have: Practice Green
- Course has: Pro Shop
- Course has: Restaurant
- Course has: Trolley Hire
- Course does not have: Dress Code
- Course has: Club Hire
- Course does not have: Handicap