Immortalised by the famous artist L.S. Lowry, the Lancashire town of Clitheroe is situated close to the beautiful Forest of Bowland. To the north lies Skipton, the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales. Beware of Pendle Hill, especially during Halloween; the Pendle witches come from here.
The Clitheroe Golf Club was originally founded in 1891 and, in those days, golf was played on farmland at Horrocksford. A much better parcel of land was found in the heart of the Ribble Valley at Barrow Gardens and, in 1932, James Braid was commissioned to fashion a new 18-hole course. Slowly but surely the new Clitheroe came of age and, in 1937, the American Ryder Cup Captain Walter Hagen played here in an exhibition match.
Measuring 6,504 yards from the tips, against a par of 71, Clitheroe is no championship test, but it does represent a strategic challenge for golfers of all levels. Accuracy from the tee is all-important because there are trees aplenty waiting to stymie anything hit slightly off line. The course itself is routed in the same fashion as Muirfield. The outward nine holes run clockwise around the edge of the course and the inward nine run anti-clockwise, sitting inside the outward nine. This cunning routing configuration ensures that when the weather rolls in from Pendle Hill the wind hits you from all directions.
Undeniably, Clitheroe is one of the best inland courses in Lancashire and there are some fine holes to be played here. Arguably the best, and considered the signature hole, is the memorable par three 17th. Despite measuring a mere 150 yards from the back tees, this hole is no pushover. The sloping green is viciously protected by a stream, which runs across the front of the green and to the left. Additionally, numerous bunkers lie in wait. A par here will feel like a birdie.
Combine a game at nearby Pleasington with a round at Clitheroe and you will have played two cracking inland courses.
The county of Lancashire is well-known for its coastal stretch of classic links golf courses. However, once you head inland it is very much more a case of quantity and not real quality.
Clitheroe is an exception to this rule and must vie for the title of best inland course in the Red Rose county.
Clitheroe is a course that will test every part of your game and this is done through a variety of holes. There are three of four really demanding par fours that must be negotiated successfully if you are to score well here.
The majority of these come in a batch of holes from the seventh through to the 12th. Seven is a very good long par four with a taxing two-tiered green whilst the 11th and 12th are also both long two-shotters with sloping greens. The eighth is a 200+ yard par three and whilst the ninth and 10th are not particularly long they have greens which are tricky to find and hold…
Clitheroe is fairly generous from the tee but ensuring you leave your ball below the flag on many of the greens is essential. The course is a regular regional qualifying venue for The Open Championship so expect a true test.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Lancashire may be best known for its outstanding links courses but drive just a few miles inland and the red rose county boasts a handful of good quality parkland layouts, Clitheroe being one of the better ones. We played immediately following an autumnal downpour which left the fairways a little soggy in places but the course lacked nothing in terms of presentation and the well protected greens were in excellent condition throughout. The tree lined terrain is predominantly flat but a number of holes have been cleverly routed to make good use of two ditches that run through the course. The difficult 3rd and attractive short 17th both make excellent use of this feature and are two of the best holes on the course. Others that stick in the memory include the much improved 5th, another good par-3 requiring a well struck iron to clear the re-designed pond and the tricky 11th which demands an accurate downhill shot to a sloping green complete with narrow entrance. Anything long here falls away sharply from the back of the green leaving a difficult recovery. The finishing holes are very good indeed. The dogleg 16th may only be a relatively short par-4 but the approach to a narrow green sat between a large bunker and the aforementioned ditch deserves respect. The par-5 finishing hole offers a reasonable birdie chance if you can hit the required draw from the tee. We received a friendly welcome from the members and the pro, who's shop is literally packed to the rafters with the latest equipment. Brian W
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