The Yorkshire Evening Post of 20 July 1912 reported that Alister MacKenzie had visited Garforth to inspect the site for a proposed course and expressed his opinion that the course could be made at very little expense. The idea was to start with a 9-hole layout but there was sufficient land available for extension when required. Work didn’t get under way until around the end of the following year.
The Yorkshire Evening Post of 18 July 1914 then reported that MacKenzie had attended the course opening and exhibition match, refereeing the singles match in the morning between Abe Mitchell and Tom Williamson which Williamson won with a score of 71 to Mitchell’s 78. In the afternoon Williamson partnered with his brother Edmund in a four-ball match against Mitchell and C. W. Collier of Leeds Golf Club.
Garforth’s course has obviously been modified down the years since its formation and the most significant development in recent times was the extensive bunker renovation carried out by David and Bruce Weller in the late 1990s.
Alastair Mackenzies input is evident all over his native Yorkshire. Garforth is a parkland layout that was built by the good doctor. The course is characterized by lots of doglegs, forcing players to either shape the ball or choose how aggressive they want to be with their line from the tee. Another characteristic is the rumpled fairways meaning that you can get lots of different stances, even with a tee shot that finds the fairway.
The course has some quirk, there is the bush and brook that acts as a cross hazard on the par 5 2nd and par 4 11th. The 6th is a par 4 with a blind tee shot followed by a downhill approach to an interesting green. Another standout is the monstrous 15th, a 443 yard par 4 that also plays uphill, and with a brook in front of the green. The green is a hard target to hit, made even more so by the reality that most players will have fairway woods or long irons in their hands. Despite the challenge it is a fun shot to try and pull off.
There are some interesting features at Garforth, and some good bones, and in my opinion with some restoration work this wouldn’t be far off the standard of nearby Sand Moor or Headingley.