Huddersfield Golf Club was founded in 1891 and its course was laid out by Tom Dunn, who was one of the most prolific architects of his day. Subsequent revisions to the layout were made by Sandy Herd (the club’s first professional, who won the Open in 1902) and a host of others, including Herbert Fowler, Fred Hawtree and Donald Steel. In 2004, Cameron Sinclair also upgraded all eighteen greens to USGA standard.
Today, the layout extends to 6,514 yards from the back tees. First time visitors teeing off on the tough (and long) par four 1st hole (“Camborne”) may be a little surprised to see golfers on the long par four 9th (“Hall”) cut across their path as the old-fashioned routing crosses over the two fairways at the start and finish of the front nine holes.
The toughest hole on the card (stroke index 1) is played at the 512-yard 5th (“Gernhill”), an uncompromising par five that doglegs right across a row of cross bunkers to a green surrounded by another three sand traps. The 419-yard 12th (“Wells Ing”) is another stiff test, the hole veering sharply left to a green that’s protected by a solitary bunker to the front of the putting surface.
The course has hosted many prestigious competitions, both amateur and professional, down the years. The PGA used to hold the Lawrence Batley Seniors Tournament here and the Ladies Golf Union and English Ladies’ Golf Association have used the course for national and international events, including the Ladies Seniors Home Internationals in 2014.
What a treat Fixby turned out to be. I’d always had in mind that it was parkland, but reality is that it has more moorland qualities, with broom in bloom, springy fast running turf and a good portion of the course wide open, both visually and to the elements.
The long driveway in wends its way through bluebell woods and then the vast expanse of what turns out to be holes 1 -9, 10 and 18 can be seen in front of you, with the impressive hall. It reminded me somewhat of the drive into Hollinwell, albeit not on as grand a scale.
As you drive in you get a view of the 6th and 9th holes that cross the driveway and also the cross over between holes 1 and 9. This cross over in particular would not be designed into a modern course and immediately takes you back to a bygone era of golf course design.
The course played on almost 3 distinct parts - the 1st 9 holes, play away from the Hall and into what is a quite an open part of the course. Yes, there are trees lining the par 5 3rd and par 5 5th, the 6th and down the left of the 7th, but the overall feeling is of a somewhat open space. The crossover from the 9th as you are about to tee off on the 1st does take you by surprise, as do the members of the public on the public footpath, but its a good sequence of 9 holes. The hardest without doubt is the dog leg, uphill par 5 5th. Add wind against and it plays very long and hard indeed.
The front 9 has 2 par 3’s - all the par 3’s on the course were class, all strong, with excellent bunkering catching any shots that just come up shy.
The back 9 starts with a climb up one side of a hill, in front of the clubhouse and this forms part of the 2nd distinct part of the course - holes 10-11, 14-18, which play up, down, around the hill that’s provides stunning views across the Yorkshire countryside. The best views are from the green at the 10th and also on the ridge of the 18th.
The par 3 11th is a particularly attractive hole, played downhill (not downwind) 175 yards. This is the 2nd shortest hole as all par 3’s are 150 yards and longer.
The other standout hole in this segment is the 15th, played uphill, with a green standing above you, a Mckenzie style green protected by bunkers front and riight and surrounded by Broom in full yellow colour.
The 18th finishing hole is a blind tee shot up and over the ridge mentioned previously - not the best tee shot to be fair but playing down the other side to the narrow, well protected green and taking in the views across the property make this a good finishing hole from the 2nd shot!
The 3rd distinct segment is holes 12-13. These dont feel like they are attached to the rest of the course which is a shame because they are strong holes. The 12th plays a gentle sweeping hole right to left, around the edge of what may have been a quarried area in times gone by, to an uphill green and at 421 yards is a stiff test.
The 13th is a par 3, playing directly back below the 12th and at 205 yards is almost a short par 4 with the wind blowing! All the trouble is right - lost ball territory, so aim your shot to the left side of the green, minding the bunkers. The saving grace is should you find the green it is relatively flat. The hole pays better than it looks.
I can see why this course is so highly ranked in Yorkshire. it sits in the same quality as Hallamshire and Sandmoor - similar qualities to them in terms of moorland characteristics but certainly a step down from Lindrick, Moortown, Alwoodley and Ganton.
I loved the course and will certainly play it again. The overall feeling as you arrive on the property cannot be under estimated, the course doesn’t disappoint and the clubhouse, like nearby Woodsome Hall, is an impressive centuries old building which adds to the overall impression you take away from your visit.
Plenty of interesting holes with elevation changes and doglegs, with some punishing rough and long par 3's make Huddersfield thoroughly enjoyable if your game is on, and frustrating if you are having an off day.
The club has spent a fortune over the last couple of years replacing and redesigning all of the bunkers, so the bunkering is perfect and the quality of the bunkers consistent around the entire course.
Some of the views around the course, down onto the magnificent Fixby Hall clubhouse, and across Huddersfield are spectacular. Nowhere beats the beautiful views on a still summer's evening.
Three 200+ yard par 3 holes makes for a testing day's work - but well worth the effort for anyone who wants to try out a great course that under-promises but definitely over-delivers.
This is my home club, and it continues to delight - playing plenty of other tracks just makes me appreciate the beauty, quality and challenge of Huddersfield. Definitely one you should try.
Huddersfield Golf Club is probably not given the sufficient coverage it deserves on a national scale. It's a very, very fine golf course.
As a regular host to the Yorkshire County Championship, former venue of a European Seniors Tour event and lauded by locals it is well respected within the White Rose County of Yorkshire. But ask golfers further afield and the majority don't know about 'Fixby'.
The club has teetered on the edge of the various English 'top 100' golf course rankings in the past but has never managed to establish a foothold within them. It's a shame because this course is well worthy of inclusion and certainly the effort to pay a visit.
It has an excellent location in terms of access; close to the M62 and just over t'hill from Lancashire but it lacks support in numbers from other quality clubs around it that other venues, in say North Leeds, may benefit from. The course also has a beautiful setting, glorious grounds and a magnificent clubhouse located in the centre of the large estate which is reached thanks to an enticing drive through part of the course. From a playing perspective this can however disrupt play at the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth holes!
The fast-running and well-draining moorland-esque course draped over a big property will test every element of your game and a good score here is always well deserved. At times, when the rough is thick and the wind is up, it can perhaps become a bit too difficult but it always remains fair.
The greens, re-laid at the turn of the millennium, have improved the putting surfaces and surrounds immensely. If you miss a green there is always a number of ways in which you can play your recovery shot and the condition of them in the winter months is usually exceptional.
A similar restoration of the bunkering, which is becoming outdated and tired, would breed new life into this course and elevate it to one of the country's best.
Huddersfield is definitely a thinking course and one that requires a number of rounds before you truly understand how to score well around it.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.