You stand on the first tee, adrenalin pumping as you plot your route past gorse and deep bunkers. This is Ganton, regarded by many knowledgeable punters as the world?s greatest inland course. Home to this year?s Walker Cup, it?s just one of a host of top courses in the area.
Golf balls were first hit at Ganton in 1891, and since then it has hosted major tournaments, including the 1949 Ryder Cup and the 2000 Curtis Cup. The heathland layout is more a test of accuracy than length. Avoid the impenetrable gorse and cavernous bunkers and you?ll be just fine. The best hole is probably the 18th, requiring an accurate drive for a second shot to the sloping, well bunkered green. It the risk-reward character of Ganton. After your round relax in the clubhouse full and lap up the views of the Yorkshire Wolds.
Just a short drive from Ganton and you?re on the North Sea coast and the resorts of Scarborough, Filey and Bridlington, all with cliff top courses well worth a visit. Scarborough?s South Cliff course starts and finishes in a valley, with the middle section playing along the cliff tops. This is where the course really gets interesting with challenging holes complemented by views of Scarborough Town and the rugged coastline towards Filey. Conversely, the North Cliff course has a cliff top start and finish, but is predominantly a parkland track.
Filey and its new clubhouse is well worth a visit. The 9th and 13th, are two of the toughest par fours around probably because they usually play into a brisk wind. Bridlington Links is the new kid on the Yorkshire scene and is fast establishing a good reputation. Professional Chris Smith, who played in this years Open, runs a 24 bay driving range, golf academy and nine hole short course in addition to the par 72 course.
If you like fast, true greens then Hornsea is where it?s at. The memorable par 5 16th, called the Himalayas, requires a drive over the corner of a field, which is out of bounds, to clear fairway mounds which give this hole its name. Always in top notch condition, this is one parkland course not to be missed.
Moving inland the York area has loads of good courses, with perhaps Fulford being the best known. The club hosted a number of professional tournaments, including the Benson & Hedges International and the Murphy?s Cup. Major champions Tony Jacklin, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballasteros, Ian Woosnam and Sandy Lyle have all been winners at Fulford but these days the course isn?t regarded long enough to attract the biggest names back but it?s still a gem not to be missed. A plaque marks one of the most vivid images in golf when Bernhard Langer climbed the tree by the seventeenth to chip his ball towards the green.
Nearby Selby has improved in the last couple of years with new holes and greens being laid. Situated in the Vale of York, Easingwold is another recently revamped course now measuring 6717 yards.
Pannal lies in the glorious countryside south of Harrogate. Awesome views and a course laid out on a stretch of gorse-covered land make this an unforgettable experience. The tree lined fairways at Harrogate make the course play harder than its length suggests. The final stretch includes five par 4’s, all but one are over 400 yards, making it one of Yorkshire’s hardest closing stretches. Nearby Oakdale designed by Alister MacKenzie offers a unique mix of moorland and parkland golf.
Where to Stay
The Ganton Greyhound (01944 710116). Doubles rooms from £55 pn
Large open fireplaces and open oak beams set the atmosphere in this old inn.
Middlethorpe Hall, Bishopthorpe. (01904 641241). From £109 pppn.
A magnificent 18th century, Queen Anne style country house surrounded by 20 acres of parkland and private gardens.
The Black Bull Escrick (01904 728245). £42 pppn B & B
Traditional cottage style inn, 15 minutes from York.
Arden House Hotel (01423 509224). From £32 pppn B & B
A small hotel with a friendly atmosphere.
Old Swan Hotel (01423 500055). £90 pppn B & B
Country House Hotel in the centre of Harrogate.
Where to play
Ganton Golf Club Ltd
Location: Ganton, Near Scarborough
Tel: 01944 710329
Green Fees: £60-£70
Fulford Golf Club Ltd
Location: Heslington Lane, York
Tel: 01904 413212
Green Fees: £40-£48
Selby Golf Club
Location: Mill Lane, Brayton Barff, Selby
Tel: 01757 228622
Scarborough North Cliff Golf Club
Location: North Cliff Avenue, Scarborough
Tel: 01723 360786
Green Fees: £26 – £36
Scarborough South Cliff Golf Club
Location: Deepdale Avenue, Scarborough
Tel: 01723 360522
Bridlington Golf Club
Location: Flamborough Road, Marton, Bridlington
Tel: 01262 401584
Hornsea Golf Club
Location: Rolston Road, Hornsea
Tel: 01964 532020
Green Fees: £26 – £34
Pannal Golf Club
Location: Follifoot Road, Pannal, Harrogate
Tel: 01423 872628
Green Fees: £41 – £51