Located close to the centre of the charming spa town of Harrogate, the golf club has been in existence since 1892, when Willie Park Jnr laid out a 9-hole course over an undulating site at Irongate Bridge. Three years later, the club’s landlords, the Duchy of Lancaster, opened a slaughterhouse close to the clubhouse, forcing the club to relocate further out of town to a site owned by the Slingsby Estate at Belmont Farm.
The Huddersfield Golf Club professional Sandy Herd, who designed other Yorkshire courses at Pannal, Lees Hall and Wakefield, set out the club’s new 18-hole layout. Harry Colt subsequently recommended routing the course with inner and outer loops of nine holes and Alister MacKenzie is also credited with redesigning the 17th green to create “an entirely artificial plateau green constructed on flat land”.
The Harrogate course is laid out on gently undulating, wooded terrain and its tree-lined fairways are routed in two returning circuits of nine holes that each contain their fair share of carefully placed sand traps. Three of the five short holes on the card are faced during the outward half (at holes 3, 5 and 9) whilst the back nine concludes with a very strong finishing stretch of par fours from the 15th onwards.
A pleasant, mature course dating back to 1892 with design input from some of the great Golden Age designers.
A round at Harrogate is a very pleasant way to spend your day. It is relatively short by modern standards, laid out over relatively level land, with a good mix of holes; 5 par 3's, all over 170 yards off the tips, 2 relatively short par 5's, the rest par 4's including 4 par 4's to finish, inlcuding 3 over 400 yards and one of these reaching 454 yards. A tough finish to the round.
The par 3's are good but with 2 of them at over 210 yards, I would personally prefer a better mix with at least a couple shorter.
A gentle start to your round with a wide fairway on this short par 4, but position is key as the entrance to the green narrows with trees intruding from the left and bunkers to the right. But its a nice getaway.
The rounds stand out holes for me were the 7th, the 1st of the par 5's, which is beautifully framed by the trees, narrowing as you reach the green and protected for those trying to take it on in 2, by the brook about 80 yards or so back.
Also I really enjoyed the stretch at the start of the back 9 and the 15th, the 1st of the tough par 4 finish, beautifully framed and gently sweeping right to left.
The routing was enjoyable, the tree lined fairways a pleasure your way through and the bunkering impressed me.
Like reviewers before, I'd agree this course isn't easy simply because it is short; its challenging and tight, the par 3's seriously test your accuracy, but amongst the tough par 4's there are also some serious birdie chances on the shorter par 4's (holes 1, 4, 10 and 17) which helps keep the round interesting and one's hope to pull back one of the lost shots.
As soon as you pull into the car park and see how well the surrounds are maintained, the fabulous practice facilities and quaint clubhouse you quickly realise what a special place this is. Again the secretary manager was very gracious and hospitable when arranging the round for me, first class.
The course provides for continuous photo opportunities on every hole, which don't does the outstanding beauty of the course justice. The abundance of trees frame every hole, clever bunkering and sloping green complexes make for a stern examination. The layout consists of a great mix of long par 4s, a few driveable holes, par 3s long all over 175 yards, and a couple of great par 5s with my favourite hole was the 7th a par 5 with a blind tee shot leaving a fantastic approach to the green.
Pace of play was excellent despite being busy we managed to get around in under 3 hours playing at a gentle pace. Another course you definately need to play if in the North Yorkshire area.
I recently played at Harrogate Golf Club in the 36-hole Vardon Grip 36-hole open competition on an early September day with a tiny hint of autumn in the air.
The current course measures a little less than 6,198 yards and plays to a par of 69 but with an SSS of 70 it is no stroll in the park. It is played over relatively flat terrain and requires a great deal of accuracy and conservative play due to the tight, tree-lined nature of the holes. There are also plenty of fairway and greenside bunkers to avoid.
The round closes with four formidable two-shotters, three of which played directly into the wind on my visit.
There are no real stand-out holes at Harrogate but there is a nice consistency to the course and, although the narrowness of the fairways and the sloping greens ensure a stiff test, it isn’t going to beat you up.
It was also pleasing to have such short walks from green-to-tee and partly as a result of this our round took a little over 3 hours which is very good for this type of competition.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.