- +44 (0) 1944 710329
A64, 9 miles W of Scarborough
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Championships hosted: Boys Amateur, Brabazon Trophy, British Masters, British PGA Matchplay, Curtis Cup, English Men's Amateur, English Women's Amateur, European Ladies' Team, Jacques Léglise Trophy, Men's Home Internationals, Ryder Cup, Senior Amateur, The Amateur, The Womens Amateur, Vagliano Trophy, Walker Cup, Women's Home Internationals
To classify Ganton as a heathland course is a misnomer – one could just as easily categorise it as an inland links, as it’s situated in the rural Vale of Pickering, nine miles from the sea. This sandy, gently undulating site was once a North Sea inlet. Consequently, it has all the characteristics of a links and a heathland course. Either way, Ganton Golf Club is a perfect place to play golf.
The Scarborough Golf Club (as it was originally called) opened for play in 1891, laid out by St Andrews’ Tom Chisholm. The great Harry Vardon became the club’s pro in 1896, the same year he won his first Open title at Muirfield. This immediately put Ganton on the map.
In 1905, Ted Ray, along with James Braid, J.H. Taylor and Vardon implemented major alterations to the layout. Harry Colt, Alister MacKenzie, Tom Simpson and C.K. Cotton made further changes over the next 50 years.
Ganton is surely one of the few inland courses in the British Isles good enough to hold an Open Championship. It would make a pleasant change to break with tradition and hold an Open somewhere inland. After all, Ganton is used to holding important competitions – it hosted the 1949 Ryder Cup, the 2000 Curtis Cup and the 2003 Walker Cup.
The bunkering is quite extraordinary, a real feature of the course. With over 100 cunningly placed bunkers, some of which are simply huge, both in breadth and in depth, whilst others are small. Only lucky (or very good golfers) will avoid the sand traps at Ganton. Bernard Darwin wrote in The Golf Courses of the British Isles, that Ganton “possesses by far the vastest and generally most gorgeous bunker that is to be found, as far as I know, on any inland course. It is a huge pit of sand, with just the depths and shallows, the bays and promontories of the genuine seaside article. It is so large that, by its unaided efforts, it provides highly effective bunkering for the tee shots to the last two holes; and as regards its dimensions, I shall not be flattering it very grossly if I compare it to the bunker in front of the fifth tee at Westward Ho!”
If you blend the Old course at Walton Heath (minus the road noise) with Woodhall Spa’s Hotchkin course and then throw in a touch of Muirfield (without the sea), you’ve got Ganton. Nearly 100 years ago, Bernard Darwin compared Ganton to being “a little like Woking, a little like Worplesdon; and, generally speaking, it is the type of course that one would expect to find in Surrey rather than in Yorkshire.” Occupying open, windswept heathland, it’s a supreme thinking man’s and woman’s test of golf; the fast greens and firm fairways test the very best players. Various types of thick gorse, heather and broom highlight the course during the spring and summer months.
Three short par fours provide the opportunity of a game of risk and reward for the big hitters. A minor downside is the fact that there are only two par threes but the strength of the par fours more than compensates for this. The 4th hole, a 406-yard par four, requires a solid drive to a wide fairway before an undulating green sited on a raised plateau is unveiled. The approach shot must carry across a gully and avoid a canny bunker on the right-hand side of the green. From the raised 5th tee, a short 157-yard par three, you have a great view of the well-protected green. Only an arrow-straight tee shot will suffice. Stray to the left and you will be swallowed up by one of two bunkers, stray to the right and you'll be trapped by a huge curved bunker, which wraps itself around the entire right-hand side of the green.
Ganton is a friendly club that opens its doors warmly to visitors (providing you have a handicap). If you are a serious golfer and have never played here, we strongly recommend it.
I am loath to make too firm a judgement of a course having only played it once, especially when I arrived tired after a long drive, but I found Ganton underwhelming. It is a decent course with some fine finishing holes. However it didn’t strike me as special. Others clearly rate it highly and so I definitely need to give it another chance at some point.
Depending on which direction you drive to Ganton Golf Course, the last town you see seems to be miles away. You then drive into the middle of nowhere and upon arriving at Ganton, it is almost as if you have been transported back in time.
The Old World clubhouse is packed full of golfing memorabilia to which the staff were only too keen to show you around and talk you through it.
The course itself is described as a mix between Heathland and Links, but when the wind is up in the Vale of Pickering, this is pure inland links and the ability to create shots to compliment the wind is imperative to scoring well.
The course is first class and you instantly you feel as though you are playing on hallowed turf. It plays across rolling countryside with cleverly contoured fairways, but the real standout feature of Ganton is the bunkering and of the courses I’ve played, only Woodhall Spa can rival its quality in this regard. Layered, full of sand and deep enough to leave you picking a line into the green and in most cases, just praying to get out. Some of the best I’ve played. I had read a few reviews on here complaining about the state of the fairways, but save one or two, that was not my experience and the greenkeepers have clearly done a good job to bring these back to health.
As you navigate the course, you are left amazed at just how remote it is! Only a church and a couple of farm buildings offer any other signs of life.
Favoured holes for me are the Par 3 5th with a well guarded green, the beautiful Par 5 6th which is made even more stunning in the Autumn, the Par 4 11th with a cavernous bunker stretching across the fairway and the closing stretch from 15-18. I am not normally a fan of blind tee shots on a final hole, but it’s so well designed. The tee shot needs to find the right hand side of the fairway to have a shot into the green, but too far right and you are in trouble. Find the left hand side and you have no shot and too far left and you are descending ladders into one of the biggest bunkers I’ve seen.
Throughout the course the greens are superb. Fast, clever and in immaculate condition.
As I walked off the final green, I was left with a feeling that I was honoured to play here and it is a course that fully deserves it’s lofty status.
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I very much echo the review below. I played here in September 2020 and as others have written the fairways are not great, but work is being done to resolve this and the course recognised this with a discount on the usual fee. That is all I will say on that matter as everything else about the course is simply brilliant.
We picked the course as we wanted a world top 100 as a fitting course for one of my playing partners 1000th golf course and from the first tee shot to the last putt there was not one point where we didn't all enjoy the course. I have read reviews that pick out different holes or runs of holes and for me it is all good, but my favourite holes are 6, 9, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17 and 18.
17 and 18 seem to divide opinion and I do agree that 17 off the yellows at circa 230 for a par 3 is tough where off the white at circa 240 and a par 4 is much easier. I would simply say play it off the yellow, hitting 230 dead straight is not the easiest, as I found out when I landed in the bunker to the right and had toget the ball over a 6 foot lip. As for 18 I think this is all about strategy you need to hit to the right to see the green, but too far right is trouble or really long for the approach. Go left and you are either in real trouble or you are annoyed as you walk over to find your ball behind some very tall trees with no approach.
All in all I loved Ganton it ran close to a 6 baller for me and I am sure in A1 condition 6 it would have been. I would play again without a second thought.
I last wrote a review on Ganton in September 2019 - please see further down for the review. What has prompted me to write a brief update is the recent reviews on Ganton, which have focussed in particular on the conditioning of the fairways. This has resulted in some very low scores. These low scores have clearly missed what Ganton is all about, focussing on one aspect, albeit an important one, but not one which suddenly becomes all encompassing when trying to give an objective opinion on the overall course.
I played in the Yorkshire Challenge on Wednesday - Day 1 of a 3 day tour of Ganton, Moortown and today Lindrick, a Ryder Cup triple in effect.
Playing off the white tees and with a very stiff wind, you suddenly realise firstly what a totally different golf course it is when compared to the yellow tees, but how clever the bunkering and design and contouring of the fairways are.
The rough is penal and the gorse - well forget looking for your ball and hit a provisional!.
This is a course that demands attention from the very 1st tee shot until the last putt on the 18th. You cannot let up once or it beats you up.
Yes, the fairways are disappointing and we were on preferred lies, but the greens were immaculate, as was the bunkering, and with that wind, the challenge was trying to get a ball to stay on the fairway, so you could then moan about the condition!
I understand that leather jackets have been the main issue, and from playing heathland/moorland courses at Moortown, East Devon, Teignmouth, they all have had similar issues this year.
Ganton will get these fairways back I am sure and therefore whilst it would be wrong to claim perfection for it at the moment, please take the time to marvel at the design and challenge of this class track.
6 balls it may not be at the moment, but not in your wildest dreams is a 2-3 ball rating. It's about context when reviewing courses and on balance this course stands up there with the very best of them.
I played Ganton at the start of August 2020 and have to agree with the two previous reviews that its condition was pretty poor for a Top100 course. Whilst the tees and greens were fine, pretty much every fairway was scabby and bare. However, I’m giving the place the benefit of the doubt and still believe the course deserves its high ranking.
Judging by the reviews from 2019 and further back, conditioning has never been an issue before. So it makes sense to me that this year is an anomaly caused by COVID green-keeping shortages. Perhaps I don’t know what I’m talking about. Perhaps I’m being too kind, too naive, too forgiving? I don’t know. But what I do know is that in the morning before I played a twilight round at Ganton, I played York Golf Club. The conditioning there couldn’t have been better, every fairway was like carpet. And yet at the end of the day there was no doubt in my mind which course I enjoyed more. Ganton. By a country mile.
I think we can all too easily put too much of a premium on course conditioning. I know I can anyway. But it really is only part of the picture. The layout at Ganton is utterly brilliant. The contours of the greens are endlessly fun. The bunkers are brutally spectacular. The views all around of unbroken Yorkshire countryside are breathtaking.
I don’t believe there are any weak holes at Ganton and generally I think the course gets better and better as you go along. A few stand out holes for me:
The 5th, one of only 2 (reasonable length!) par 3s. A lovely downhill 1 shotter towards a well guarded green.
The 9th, a long straight par 5 with a fairway more undulating than many links courses.
The 13th, another par 5, very tight, lined all the way by Ganton’s classically cavernous bunkers.
16 is probably my favourite of the lot. A blind drive over the most ridiculously massive bunker you’ve ever seen, onto a downhill fairway flanked by ancient Scots pine trees on the right.
17 is a 240 odd yard par 3 played over the road towards a large elevated green. I understand it’s sometimes played as a par 4 which is understandable but to be honest, you’ve got to love an insurmountable challenge.
And then 18 is one of the best closing holes I’ve ever played. Cut as much of the corner as you dare and then navigate an approach towards the setting sun, through the gap in the trees towards the green.
I walked off the 18th feeling almost surprised at how much I’d enjoyed it. The course flyover videos they have (which I watched before my trip because that’s the kind of rock & roll lifestyle I lead) don’t do justice to the contours and elevation changes. It really is a roller coaster ride of a course. And it would be worth the £70 twilight rate even if there was no grass on the fairways at all.
I was surprised and disappointed with the condition of the fairways and felt that it should have been mentioned when I booked in. The greens and approaches were fine. However my overall impression was that it was a bit tired and trading on its reputation. Glad I had a county card and only paid £80.
Played Ganton reportedly No.1 in Yorkshire and No.9 in England. A bucket list course for myself having read about itt and its history.
The condition was very disappointing, fairways were in a terrible state my home course in winter has better , greens very slow, two tee boxes were 'temporary ' and placed in the fairway . In winter I'd have been disappointed in the height of summer..more kick the bucket . I've played municiples in better condition for a top course..terrible condition..
You clearly haven’t played the municipals around Sheffield then :). Seriously, this doesn’t sound like the Ganton I know and love. My friend who is a County member there has said this year the fairways have been very poor. I’m due to play the Yorkshire Challenge there In September - I trust it has improved by then.
I've put this review off for quite a while but thought I'd finally give in and write it. I played Ganton back in January, it is not August so fair to say i've tried to avoid it for a while! I'll get straight to the point, it didn't live up to expectations for me. The club itself is stooped with history, formed in 1896 it has a ryder cup under it's belt as well as holding many prestigious amateur events.
The course itself is as tough as a course could get. Play it with wind and rain which is how most people probably do and it is a proper test of golf. The bunkering at Ganton is fantastic, plenty around the greens and fairways, some are super deep. The problem I have with the golf course is that it's all quite the same and with the exception of 17 it has no holes which really makes me think that this is as good as it gets. For a top 100 golf course in the world, I feel like there should be plenty of moments standing on the tee thinking that it couldn't get any better but it didn't feel that way for me at Ganton. The front 9 is better than the back in my opinion with some lovely holes on the front. The par 3 5th is a lovely par 3 over a number of gorse bushes into a narrow green, followed by a great par 5 with trees all the way down the right. Holes 1-11 are all fun and enjoyable but the stretch of 12,13,14 and 15 let the course down a bit. Fairly uninspiring golf holes in all honesty.
I can see where people are coming from for them to rate Ganton so highly but unfortunately it didn't meet my standards that I was expecting, may go back there for another try in the summer but I can't say i'm a massive fan. I feel generous giving 4 and a half balls but I'd say that is a fair rating of the course as it was still very good, just not top 100 in the world worthy in my opinion.
Freddie - completely agree with your assessment. Ganton is a level below the best inland courses in GB&I and in this regard would suggest there at least 10 better.
Not far from Scarborough on the North East coast of England, Ganton is a classic layout, brutally tough, but also has lots of fun features. It reminds me of an inland Carnoustie (but without the barry burn), in that the bunkers are extremely strategically placed (also very deep), and the rough can be very long. That’s all without mentioning the abundance of gorse!
However, it is mostly quite playable with different options from the tee and ways to run the ball up to greens. It can be narrow at times so I think this course is at its best when the rough is cut back to give players lots of different options.
It gets off to a tough start, that leads into the fun, shortish par 4 3rd. The 6th has a great centreline bunker (common here), and the 10th is an epic par 3, quite short but with lots of teeth.
11 & 16 have enormous centreline bunkers, and 16 in particular is very intimidating, but if players are playing from the appropriate tees it really shouldn’t be in play. The two finishing holes are a challenging finish. To continue the comparision, the 17th here reminds me of 16 at Carnoustie, a long, brutal par 3, that needs at least a hybrid or fairway wood. 18 dog legs left towards the clubhouse and the not widely mentioned putting green.
This putting green is reminiscent of the Himalayas at St Andrews, and although not quite as undulating, it is extremely long and you could spend a long time on here trying lots of different putts. The clubhouse is full of history, and altogether it’s a great golfing experience that players will have here.
Returned here again after playing many years ago. It was like returning to see an old friend. This course has such great feel about it. It was in lovely condition from start to finish considering the winter we’ve started into when I played. It had a great balance of presentation and in keeping with natural surroundings.
Look forward to returning again although hopefully in summer