Founded in 1892, Headingley Golf Club is the oldest club in Leeds and was one of fourteen to feature in the official Yorkshire Golf Club Directory during the year it was formed.
The club started out with a 9-hole layout in Spen Lane on the Beckett estate but moved to its current location in February 1906, on land leased from the Church of England.
A couple of years after opening, Harry Colt advised on bunkering for the 4th hole and holes 8 to 12. In 1912, Alister MacKenzie reported on construction work for the 16th and 17th greens, as well as the old 2nd and 7th greens which no longer exist.
Today, the course extends to just over 6,500 yards from the back markers, playing to a par of 71, and the layout is routed in a traditional out-and-back style, with the outward half considerably longer than an inward half which features three of the four short holes on the card.
With strong architectural pedigree, having had MacKenzie redesigning the course and Colt consulting on bunkers, Headingley is a fun layout. This is evident from the 1st, with the second half of the fairway being extremely downhill, meaning that sometimes you can hit driver into the ditch guarding the green, even with it being around 370 yards from the tee! In the picture, you can see where my tee shot ended up one round. The property is quite hilly, which although there are good green to tee transitions, this can make it a hard walk sometimes. There are some great raised greens such as the 2nd, which means a slight miss can mean a hard recovery. The 7th and 8th both have heather in play, but are still enjoyable holes. The 11th is an extremely strategic par 4, with a ditch crossing the fairway at around 250 yards. In general, it is important to really think your way round this course. The short par 4 16th is another good hole- a blind tee shot with a green that can be driven, but only a small miss can be extremely punished. All the par 3s here can be challenging, as the 17th is, but it’s probably the courses signature hole, with a forced carry to a well-guarded green. All in all, Headingley goes a bit under the radar in English golf, but is a great opportunity to see some of the game’s best architects work, while providing great value.
This is a great course and I would highly recommend playing it whilst visiting North Leeds, to complement the many fine courses fringing the north edge of the city. Whilst not in the same league as Alwoodley and Moortown, or even Sand Moor, it holds its own against the other good courses such as Scarcroft and Horsforth.
Its a great course with many challenging and diverse holes, the closing stretch of 15-18 is an excellent finish on this parkland/moorland and part heathland course which plays out on a traditional out and back layout.
One to play and considerably cheaper than the other great courses around there
Headingley is one of the many golf courses situated on excellent golfing land to the North of Leeds in West Yorkshire. This is a very fine parkland layout, housing firm running fairways, with even a hint of heathland towards the far end of the course.
In a completely rural setting the course benefits from many wonderful views and has several memorable holes which make full use of the varied and dramatic terrain.
The standout holes include the downhill opener which features an approach, potentially from an elevated position, played over a stream to an inviting green. The seventh, the first of back-to-back par fives is also an excellent hole where the player who can drive it long and straight has a chance to reach this 556 yarder that has a superb large, angled and multi-tier putting surface.
There’s also a really good stretch of holes at Headingley between the demanding 456-yard par-four 12th and the short but tricky 17th. A wide variety of strokes are required on this six-hole run but it is the green locations of the 13th, 16th and 17th that really set the pulse racing. Each one is very natural in appearance yet features significant contours around and about them which make approach and recovery shots very interesting and asks the golfer to use some imagination and creativity.
Headingley is definitely a course you should seek out and play if heading to Yorkshire. It isn’t in the same class as nearby Alwoodley, Moortown or Sand Moor but it’s not too far behind the last of that trio and certainly makes for a highly rewarding days golf.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.