Kirkby Lonsdale Golf Club is situated in the Lune Valley, between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It’s a beautiful spot for a golf course and the fairways are set out across 160 acres of rolling countryside, configured as two returning circuits of nine, with a winding watercourse cleverly brought into play on several occasions.
Founded in 1906, the club established a 9-hole course on either side of Biggins Wood, below Woodend Farm. When the lease for this property was terminated in 1938, the club moved to a new site, on a stretch of land between Holme House Farm and Kiln Bank, where another 9-hole course was put in place.
The laying of water pipes and the construction of an aqueduct across part of the course in the early 1950s precipitated the club’s relocation to Casterton, where nine holes were somehow squeezed into a compact 30-acre site. As the 1990s approached, it was decided to make one final move, one that would allow members to play on a full 18-hole layout.
After finding a suitable site at Barbon, the new course debuted in 1991, thanks to the efforts of a small group of club stalwarts and a JCB digger that had seen better days. The course was rudimentary, featuring flat, un-bunkered greens and members were soon appealing for a professional architect to be appointed to upgrade the layout.
Bill Squires, who had worked with Dave Thomas, was brought in to revamp the course and the layout in play today is the one that he fashioned. Over a three-year period, almost half the greens were replaced and, in the end, only the original putting surfaces on the 7th and 14th holes were not rebuilt or modified.
Feature holes on the front nine include the 390-yard 2nd, a tough left to right doglegged par four that gently rises to an offset green, and the 507-yard 8th, which bends first to the right and then to the left from tee to green – it’s a par five with a stroke index of 1 from the red markers so it certainly demands respect, even from the regular tees.
The inward half begins with another terrific hole, the 530-yard 10th. It’s a strong par five where tee shots are played from an elevated position across a pond to a fairway that veers sharply to the right. Barbon Beck cuts in along the left side of the hole towards the green so precision shots are called for here if a par of better is to be marked on the card.After reaching the highest point of the course on the 15th green, with its stunning views of Howgill Fells, it’s time to tackle the last three holes on the home stretch, highlighted by the wonderful 157-yard 17th, a slightly downhill par three that plays to a sand-protected green perched on the other side of the flowing waters of Barbon Beck.