Its been said that the history of York is the history of England. From Roman occupation to Viking raids, on through its medieval zenith as Englands second city then into a 16th-century decline. York was a focal point of the Civil War, besieged and taken by the Parliamentarians in 1644. It became a cultural and social centre in Georgian times then a northern hub for the railways in the 19th century. York is a fascinating microcosm that displays how England has evolved over the last 2,000 years.
If York is an enthralling destination for the avid historian it is equally so for the ardent golfer. With many excellent and varied courses within driving distance, York is an ideal base from which to tackle the best Yorkshire has to offer.
Perhaps the most well renowned course in the vicinity of the city is Fulford. The club has long enjoyed an excellent reputation among discerning golfers but its fame spread to a wider audience as it played host to the Benson and Hedges International in the 1980s. Fulfords reputation for superb greens and fast-running fairways enticed some of the worlds best to compete. Bernhard Langer will always maintain an association with Fulford as this was where he played that shot from up a tree during the 1981 Benson and Hedges. Today a plaque marks the spot of his audacious escape.
Although Fulford celebrates its centenary this year the actual course is more recent than that. It was designed and constructed by Major Charles McKenzie (brother of Augusta designer Alistair) in 1935. The course moves across sandy and springy heathland with the vast majority of holes surrounded by attractive, mature trees. At 6,775 yards from the whites its an accurate rather than a long game thats required. My three lost balls will testify to that.
Travelling west from York, Moor Allerton Golf Club can be found five miles north of Leeds between the A58 and A61. A relatively modern course, it was Robert Trent Jones Snrs first UK project in the mid 1960s. His 27 interesting holes were opened for play in 1971 and quickly gained status, so much so that the course was shortlisted to host the 1977 Ryder Cup.
There are three 18-hole combinations (Lakes, Blackmoor and High) and, on each, Trent Jones handiwork is evident form the outset. Large tees, lakes and streams, sprawling bunkers and rolling greens, every hole leaves an imprint on the memory. After a round at some courses the holes seem to merge in ones memory but upon leaving the 27th green at Moor Allerton I could clearly recall each and every one Id completed. As I headed back towards York I considered this was surely an indication of a great course with an appealing and unique design.
Rudding Park Golf Club is situated a few miles south of Harrogate, a short drive from York. Its always a good recipe when a renowned course designer has the chance to work with a mature swathe of parkland. Martin Hawtree was given just that chance at Rudding Park. The luxurious hotel here was once a grand stately home as such it has grounds stretching to 300 beautiful acres. The famous Humphrey Repton originally landscaped these in the 18th century. Hawtrees championship standard layout now forms the centrepiece of this glorious tract of land.
A classic parkland course that winds through trees and past water hazards its an exacting test even from the forward tees. The greens are worthy of particular note. Constructed to USGA standard they are fast and true even in the off-season.
Be sure to stop in the attractive clubhouse after your game. I can thoroughly recommend a relaxing beer on the terrace as the sun falls low in the sky.
York itself is a vibrant city that has wide-ranging appeal. The excellent nightlife, boosted by a large student population, is coupled with a number of fine restaurants Meltons is one of the best. There are, of course, many historic and cultural sites to visit. If you have the time, take a stroll around Shambles where there are some marvellous shops. Visit the Jorvik Viking Centre and the National Railway Museum as well. If you only have time to see one thing make sure its the Minster. The largest Medieval Gothic cathedral north of the Alps, its a spellbinding place with 1,000 years of history to explore.
With something for everybody to enjoy on and off course York is an ideal destination for a family golf trip.
Where to play
T: 01904 413579
Stats: par 72, SSS 72, 6,775 yards
T: 0113 266 1154
Stats: par 71-72, SSS 72-74, 6,470-6,871 yards
Rudding Park GC
T: 01423 871350
Stats: par 72, SSS 72, 6,883 yards
Where to stay
T: 01904 641241
Set in 20 acres and dating from 1699 Middlethorpe Hall is one of Yorkshires most luxurious hotels.
Jacks Tapas Bar
T: 01904 659557
Situated right in the heart of old York, Jacks Tapas Bar offers great fun, alternative accommodation. With superb food and a great bar this is a lively place to stay. Rooms are modern and comfortable. All are en suite.
Carlton House Hotel
T: 01904 622265
A small, family-run hotel in an elegant Georgian terrace house just outside Yorks city walls. This is a friendly and welcoming place to stay, and the cooked breakfast is top-notch.
Jorvik Viking Centre
Open from 10am to 5pm. Family discounts are available.
Open Monday to Saturday, from 9am to 5pm and Sunday noon to 3.45pm. Under 16s
National Railway Museum
Open year-round from 10am to 6pm (except December
24-26). Admission is free to all.