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.
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.