Ganton - Yorkshire - England

Ganton Golf Club played host to the 1949 Ryder Cup matches between the USA and Great Britain. Team Captains were Ben Hogan (US) and Charles Whitcombe (GB). The U.S. Non-playing Captain Ben Hogan raised a concern about the grooves on the clubs of some British players. A meeting was called with R&A Rules Official Bernard Darwin, who concurred that the clubs should be repaired to meet conforming standards. Despite the USA team being without three key players, Hogan’s side claimed victory after dominating the singles, USA 7 - GB 5. The Ryder Cup was played at Portland in 1947 and at Pinehurst in 1951.

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.

Harry Vardon - original signed photo (held by the club)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.

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Reviews for Ganton

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Description: This sandy, gently undulating site was once a North Sea inlet. Consequently, Ganton Golf Club has all the characteristics of a links and a heathland course. Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Reviews: 93
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Vorndron
Played here second week in November after last playing three years ago and all I can say is that this it too long a gap. The course is absolutely superb, and I only really appreciated how good it is after playing it again. Its a real test of your game and the design is amazing with the bunkers placed very strategically. The condition of the course was excellent and the greens were very ture but not lightening fast as they are in summer. Definatley make this an annual game now. If you are a serious golfer do not miss playing at Ganton its simply brilliant.
November 17, 2010
10 / 10
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Andy-Webbo
Played on Sunday 28th March 2010 in glorious spring sunshine with a howling blustery gale. There is not much more than can be said about this course that the previous reviewer. This is one of the world's great courses, The greens were superb for the time of year and lightning fast. They are very true indeed and I putted well, not to do so would be an insult. The bunkering never fails to impress me as any shot slightly wayward is gathered into one. I play off 12 and managed to bogey my way around the first eight then birdied nine and parred ten. The back nine was just as difficult given the challenge of the day. The sixteenth is one of my favourite holes and followed by the tough seventeenth and eighteenth there is no letting up, to simply have to play good golf all the way to the end. The clubhouse is always friendly and very traditional. This is one special place to play golf, no wonder I want to join it!
April 01, 2010
10 / 10
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Jonathan
Ganton is special. Very special. I’ve had the pleasure of playing the course many times and as of yet I’ve yet to find any faults. I must declare an interest though before you read on, because I’m a member. However, don’t let my clearly biased view put you off reading further as I’d like to take you on a journey around the course to introduce you into one of the best in the world.

Firstly, when you arrive at the club you’ll receive a Ganton welcome which is both warm and sincere. Whether you’re a lord or a whatever the welcome’s the same. The Club house oozes quiet confidence and a distinct air of quality and when you read the board of the world class tournaments that have been held at the club over the years you’ll know why.

By the time you arrive at the first tee you’ll be ready for a great round of golf on a top quality course. A straight drive is required, slightly angled to the left will keep you away from the first of the bunkers you’ll meet which are a key feature of the course. The refurbished greenside bunker might as well have a sign saying ‘welcome to Ganton’ because if you land it you’ll do very well to rescue par. The second, third and fourth are so different you’ll need to plot your way around very carefully to card a good score and if the greens are running as fast as they normally do your putting touch will need to be as light as a feather. The fifth is the first par 3 and needs a perfect mid iron shot to get on the putting surface as there’s danger all around. The sixth is the first par 5 and is easily reached in 3 or 2 for the big hitters and is a real birdie chance. The seventh is SI 1 and for very good reason. It’s a classic risk reward hole with a dog leg, well protected by 4 very well placed bunkers at the corner. Don’t even think about it into a brisk easterly wind.

If you get to turn unscathed you’ve done well and things start to get significantly harder! An accurate tee shot will be required to get on the dance floor of the tenth Par 3 otherwise it’s a potential card wrecker with bunkers all around. The tenth, eleventh and twelfth require every shot to be judged very carefully to score and if you miscalculate, believe me you’ll pay for it. As ou’ll find out, landing in a bunker at Ganton is a proper penalty. The big hitters will all have a go at the Par 4 fourteenth but beware it bites if you get it wrong. A long iron short of the bunkers and a wedge onto the green is the smart choice. The last four holes are without doubt the best finishing holes on any course in the north of England. The long fifteenth followed by the signature and really beautiful sixteenth require a level of skill to score well that escapes me most of the time. The greenside bunker on the sixteenth is almost worth going in just to have a go to see if you can get out. My friend’s 6 feet 7 inches and after climbing down the ladder comfortably disappears below the rim! The famous seventeenth is, perhaps, one of the most painted and photographed of all holes on the course. At 240 yards it’s an eye wateringly long Par 3 which well protected by the ubiquitous Ganton bunkers. Finally, the eighteenth is a blind drive, which needs precision or you’re either blocked out for your second shot to the green or the distance is too great.

With the club house beckoning you’ll have just finished one of the most enjoyable and memorable rounds of golf in your life. If you managed to score to your handicap you’ll have done very well. The main trouble is you’ll want to start all over again.
February 21, 2010
10 / 10
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MattDunn
Great course... we were very warmly welcomed by the caddie master and the clubhouse staff were friendly and very helpful. Ganton is a bit like stepping back in time, but it is a classic vintage. The course is fantastic, it's bunkering is challenging and the layout is not at all contrived. I can understand why it is a design classic on a fantastic natural layout. The greens were superb in early June; firm and fast with lots of subtle borrows.Bring your A game and a plentiful supply of balls. The rough is penal!
June 04, 2009
8 / 10
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alp
Played 36 holes yesterday, having had it on my 'list' of courses to play for some time. Was not disappointed - good practice facilities, very peaceful setting, and what a tough course! Condition was immaculate, fastest greens i have played on perhaps ever. Course was very quiet too, on a sunny sunday, which also added to the enjoyment. Would have given it a six, only donwside for me is that there are not any really memorable holes, but most are very good. Oh, and the clubhouse is a bit snooty, but i guess that's not too important. Looking forward to a return visit, we paid £88 for 36 holes.
April 26, 2009
8 / 10
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moreski
June 02, 2009
Excellent review but I think your analysis of 'memorable holes' is slightly wrong. The finish is difficult to beat in Golf - 15 with the elevated tee, 16 the tightest tee shot on the course with an inviting yet nail biting second down to a green surrounded by pit bunkers to the front and gorse to the back, second shot on 18 into the long, sloping green with clubhouse and terrace to your right.... and it's two years/far too long since I played there.I think most holes are excellent, a couple could be argued as being only good and none are weak - that's the reason that it is difficult to pick out the great ones.
Leigh Tasker
Just played this course on a very windy but sunny Spring day - an absolutely fine test of golf which is quite rightly mentioned in the same sentence as The Hotchkin at Woodhall Spa. Greens had been recently top-dressed but still rolled fast and true - apparently day tickets are on offer this summer for £78 per person which in my mind is AMAZING value if you plan to play 2 rounds. Without doubt, the best course in Yorkshire.
March 29, 2009
8 / 10
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Ben Massey
A truly great all year round golf course. Even in December the course was incredibly well drained and the greens were in particularly good condition- far too quick for me!
January 20, 2009
10 / 10
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Kirk Dobie
Played Ganton for the first time yesterday. The proud, friendly welcome was only surpassed by a great course, worthy of an Open championship and a place of rare tranquility. If you are serious about your golf you should spend the day here
April 02, 2008
10 / 10
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Vorndron
Ganton is quite simply unbeatable in every respect. The course is an excellent test and always in immaculate condition. Good shots are rewarded and bad ones punished the golf course is there in front of you. And best of all even in summer you can have the course to yourself. Off the course the clubhouse is heaped in tradition and the Ganton cake and stilton is not to be missed. You will not be disappointed with your Ganton experience.
March 06, 2008
10 / 10
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Max Monroe
As good as it gets anywhere in the world! This is a special place, I hope they never change a thing at Ganton. Do whatever you can to play here at least once and do bring a lot of golf balls you will go through them. It is rumored that fairways do exist at Ganton just not many have reportedly found them... Nasty rough and gorse everywhere. Has to be one of the hardest courses you will ever play. Under stated club house which fits perfectly with the clubs location, quality and value for the price. This course should be ranked higher! The course reminds me of Walton Heath, Woodhall Spa, and certainly of a strong links course. When the greens are in good shape and the course is playing fast and hard this is a slice of heaven on Earth. No commercialism here.
February 10, 2008
10 / 10
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