Golf first began in Manchester in 1818 when a few enthusiastic golfers played on Kersal Moor. Eight Scotsmen founded a new golf club in 1882 which was originally called Manchester St Andrews to avoid any confusion with the Old Manchester Golf Club which folded in the latter stages of the 19th century. Having now dropped its St Andrews suffix, in 1912 the Manchester Golf Club moved out of town to its current location at Hopwood to play on a course that Harry Colt designed and laid out on sandy, undulating ground.
The Manchester Golf Club was first nominated for inclusion on the Top 100 website as a gem by Peter in January 2007. Since then, the Manchester Golf Club has attained a well-deserved Lancashire Best In County ranking position. Peter’s original nomination comments are as follows: “Having played many golf courses in the UK and abroad I still feel Manchester Golf Club is as good as any with a very strong last four holes. Built on 248 acres of moorland/parkland, it is certainly worth a mention.”
Considering the club’s relative close proximity to the city, the first striking aspect of Manchester is the scale of the golf course which is routed in a grand style across the open moorland landscape. The second aspect is the ever-present wind that whips across the course trying its best to create havoc with your scorecard. Strategy is the watchword here at Manchester and thoughtful club selection will reap rewards on this rather hilly layout.Measuring a respectable 6,650 yards from the blue tips, Manchester is a stern test that will challenge every facet of your game. The Lancashire Amateur Championship returned to Hopwood in 2011 cementing the club’s reputation as one on the finest inland courses in northern England. John Carroll won the four-round strokeplay event by one shot from Manchester's Gareth Clarke. The aforementioned two players were the only golfers to card two sub par rounds during the entire competition and nobody broke par cumulatively for the four rounds.
Its a rather small matter to a certain degree whether MGC should get a 4 1/2 or 5 star rating, but the fact myself and my playing partner have been discussing this very point shows that the course, whatever the rating, is a good course and I would recommend one takes the time to play when passing by along the M62.
It's ranking in the Top 100 listings for Lancashire attracted my attention, plus the fact that it was a heathland cum moorland track on a vast piece of land, yet only 20 mins from Manchester.
You get to see the skyscrapers of the City in the distance, but this course is set in beautiful rolling countryside, spread across 260 acres or so of heathland and moorland terrain, with silver birch, oak, the occasional pine, and vast swathes of bluebells, bilberry and bracken.
The entrance is impressive, a sweeping drive flanked by 2 short game areas, before you arrive at the club. The pro was very helpful and friendly and the clubhouse with its outdoor patio and impressive putting green in front of it sat back from the elevated 1st tee.
The course starts with an relatively gentle opener. There are 4 tees to choose from. I played off the yellows at 6238 yards. From the elevated 1st tee, the hole sweeps down and then back up to a green perched on top of the hillside.a nice gentle start i thought.
You then get to open up your shoulders early in the round with 2 par 5s; the 1st quite short at 478 yards, with wide and generous fairways with the ball leaping forward off the springy turf.
The 2nd of the par 5s is a blind drive up and over a ridge and then back down the hillside before climbing back up to a raised green. Whilst a blind drive, the views at the top across to Manchester were superb.
Then comes the 1st of 4 par 3s. A good thing about this course is the balance. There are also 4 par 5s and a good mixture of oar 4s, the shortest at 285 yards and the longest at 456 yards (there are 4 par 4s over 400 yards).
The par 3 (4th) is played down into a dell with a brook before it. Its a picturesque setting.
The next 2 holes play up the next hillside, the 5th being a short par at 317 yards, but plays up to an elevated green, and the 6th also has another blind tee shot, but you do have a marker post to aim over and when you do finally wander over the brow of the hill, you will be pleasantly surprised to see how far your ball has ran down the other side. This is then followed by a short par 4 285 yard, played back up the hill.this hole has internal OOB to the right. Previous reviewer has commented that he doesnt like and I'd agree. I can see that it is to stop people playing back up the 6th, where they would not be seen by anyone teeing off on the 6th tee, so H&S wins the day. A lovely elevated green, surrounded by numerous bunkers.
On the subject of the bunkers, they played consistently throughout, many of the fairway bunkers have low lips, but the green complexes feature more deeper bunkers heavily.
From the tee at the top of the hill, you then play your 2nd par 3, a lovely downhill 157 yard tee shot to a green protected by 3 bunkers to the front right.
Then the 3rd of the par 5s. Another blind drive - aim at the middle tower block kn the distance - will see your tee shot run down the slope, feeding down to a green sat 80 yards behind a small beck.
The start of the back 9, is another short but uphill hole. Similar to hole 5 and 7, it plays to an elevated green.
One of my favourite holes from the round is the 11th, played flat across the top of the hill, but bends right to left in a gentle curve, framed by mature heathland trees. OOB on the left. A visually stunning hole.
As you play holes 12 - 15, the course is more open and moorland in character. In fact there were deer in this area. Swathes of Heather, bluebells, grasses made it feel a bit too open, but once you are actually playing each of these holes, the surroundings envelope you. The 12th green is beautifully set on the hillside, bracken behind, the 13th, a 152 yard par 3 across the valley, where as you wander down from the tee you are surrounded by a vast bluebell covered valley floor.
The 14th again has OOB to the right. I dont think that is needed. It looked a bit 'fieldy' off the tee as there is little to separate it from the 15th, but again once you are playing the hole, it sweeps round to the left and is a reachable par 5 in two, played to a raised green with the odd oak tree acting as a backdrop.
The 15th is long but the bouncy turf means that the hole plays shorter.
The 16th was my pick of the par 3s. At 225 yards, it took a well struck 5W to reach it. Played across the valley and framed by broom and pine trees, its a visually lovely hole. The green slopes back to front and left to right.
Talking of greens, they ran true and quick given tye recent dry spell. They were a pleasure to put on.
The 17th again is another strong hole, a sweeping par 4, 444 yard hole, a green xomplex protected by bunkers left and right and thick penal rough to both sides if you strayed with your approach shot.
And finally the 18th, played slightly uphill to a green where once again you can look back over the vast amount of land the course covers and across to the Manchester skyline.
Some.parts of the course where it opened up were not aesthetically pleasing when looking from on high, but as mentioned, once playing the actual hole they were a delight. The hills were rolling, not brutal, the green complexes cleverly built in or on top of the hillsides, the springy turf enabling you to have a go at the greens, the vistas as you walked around the course, all made for a very enjoyable round.
I settled on 4 1/2 but if you in the area or travelling to/from the Lancashire coast, this is an ideal stopping off point. And with a County Card a real bargain.
The Manchester Golf Club is routed over almost 300 acres of mostly moorland with touches of heathland and a sprinkle of park thrown in. Surrounded by scenic and far-reaching rural views it is a real delight to golf on the springy fairways of ‘Hopwood’ where shades of green meet hues of brown in an altogether attractive landscape.
This is golf on a big scale sprawling across the Lancashire countryside. From the second tee you can see another golf course in the far distance and may initially wonder which one it may be. You eventually realise it is the same one you are playing such is the size of the estate!
Most holes at Manchester benefit from the spacious, rolling landscape as you are faced with welcoming drives and play to some wonderful green sites. The downside is that there a couple of awkward holes; a few blind drives and some steep uphill approaches, but these can be forgiven because the majority of the course is so very good.
In keeping with the surrounds, and now under the direction of a new head greenkeeper, the fairways are wide with graded rough but if you do stray too far from the straight and narrow you will be met with gnarly moorland grass, that coarse, wiry type which is so very hard to extract a golf ball from (if found) with any sort of control.
The bunkering, of which there is plenty, is clean and sharp, and if not wholly attractive, certainly unoffensive. It is also used generously; indeed I counted seven within 100-yards of the green on the second hole. But the size and number of them work well in helping frame the holes on what is an expansive environment. There are also a number of cross bunkers that need to be carried; I suspect these will come in to play more for shorter hitters on their second shots because a few of them couldn’t be reached with a driver and didn’t really come into play on the approaches although on my most recent visit I encountered the opposite wind to normal.
There were only a couple of things I wasn’t keen on at Manchester. The main one being that on such a large property there should really be no excuse for having internal out of bounds, but I spotted the dreaded white posts on a number of occasions. I suspect the one down the side of the sixth is due to health and safety (to avoid players coming up the seventh) whilst the one on the 11th is for pace of play issues (due to thick undergrowth down the left). Looking at the local rules on the scorecard I believe this could be a similar case at the 10th, 14th, 17th and 18th!
That aside and overall through Manchester is a splendid golf course, arguably within the top 100 in England, and is certainly worthy of higher recognition.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Played on a Sunday in May. This is a very nice course with many interesting holes - the biggest let down is the 18th in fact with no grandstand finish or feature to remember but the rest of the course is worth experiencing. The greens could have been better - a bit pot-marked in places but it certainly didn't spoil it. What did spoil it however were (a minority) of the locals. One pairing were completely flummoxed by us calling them through so time was wasted there and even then they didn't understand but worse than that was the decision by one fourball behind us deciding it was still acceptable to hit while we were still on the greens and then offering no apology. They easily reached us (luckily they weren't very good so missed the green).
Firstly apologies for the poor etiquette of what I hope wasn't members and secondly if you get a chance comevand pkay again . Our new greenkeeper Matt Shinwell has transformed the course in the last year . The course is as good as I've seen in 35 years as a member .
Often someone waving at you from 150 yards doesn't mean squat! You suggested some of the member's weren't very good and yet you were calling groups through? I assume the four ball who drove towards you were the same group who didn't play through.. were you really that slow?