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.
Date: September 09, 2020