Jeremy Ellwood takes in some of the highlights of golf in Yorkshire visiting its three Ryder Cup courses at Moortown, Ganton and Lindrick in one trip
The first thing you notice on a map of Yorkshire and all its constituent elements is its sheer size – North Yorkshire alone is larger than any English county. So no wonder it boasts more golf clubs than any other, from the moorland courses of the Dales, to some great heathland and parkland tracks, then across to the links and cliff-top offerings on the coast.
Faced with such a wealth of courses, one inevitably has to narrow things down a little when it comes to golf in Yorkshire, so here we visit the county’s three famous Ryder Cup courses, and the two cliff-top layouts north and south of Scarborough…
After a gentle opening par 5, the 2nd is a real brute, but it’s the clever short par-4 5th that stands out early on.
You can’t see much off the tee and its green is supremely well-bunkered, as is the signature par-3 10th, where Woodhall Spa’s Hotchkin course comes to mind. Moortown finishes with a pretty par-3 17th hole then a stirring finale to a large, well-protected green in front of the clubhouse. Moortown is ranked at number 60 in Golf Monthly’s 2015/16 UK & Ireland Top 100 courses.
Ganton’s UK & Ireland Top 20 heathland course in the Vale of Pickering achieved Ryder Cup glory in 1949, 20 years after Moortown.
Everything about the club oozes old-school class from the white chain-link fence flanking the drive, to a clubhouse where even the toilet doors have proper keys!
The course is an absolute gem too with an embarrassment of riches. The 6th, with shades of Gleneagles, stands out, as does the pretty par-3 10th, whose inherently fair green is heavily bunkered, yet slightly concave to gather balls in.
Scarborough North Cliff
North Cliff is not as relentlessly exposed to the elements as you might expect, for only five holes play on the sea side of the main A165, and they’re pretty open and forgiving.
Across the road after the 2nd, the course comes alive via a great mix of parkland holes. The 6th and 7th flank the long-disused Scarborough to Whitby railway, the former a sweeping par 4 playing down, round and up, the latter a par 3 with a treacherously sloping green.
Scarborough South Cliff
The A165 also bisects South Cliff, with road improvements forcing layout changes a few years ago.
There are seven sea-side holes here, accessed via a substantial bridge after the par-3 3rd. The immediate task then is a tempting short par 4 played directly towards the sea, but the majestic cliff-top par 5 that follows really shines.
I was amazed when I was told that there used to be two more holes wedged between here and the cliff edge – the old 9th and 10th – which I’m guessing weren’t for vertigo sufferers.
Before my round here, some members offered some very helpful advice: “All greens slope towards the clubhouse, but of course, you have to know where the clubhouse is!”
The 5th tee, set on an island in the river by a mini-gorge, has a story to tell, with its land-owner withholding access in the 1957 Ryder cup forcing play from a forward tee on Lindrick property.
The 12th, which had to be relocated further from the busy A57 that intersects the course, was one of my favourite holes, doglegging early to the left, then down to a steeply sloping green.