Sand Moor - Yorkshire - England

Sand Moor Golf Club,
Alwoodley Lane,
Leeds,
LS17 7DJ,
England


  • +44 (0) 113 268 5180

Sand Moor was originally designed in 1921 by Henry Barran and the course opened for play in 1923. However, it would take another three years (1926) before the golf club was founded.

The club claims “the major influence in the creation of the course was Yorkshire born Dr. Alister Mackenzie, who chaired the first AGM on March 7th, 1925.” When additional land was acquired in the 1960s, the layout was modified by Henry Cotton, resulting in the loss of the first two and last two holes and the construction of four new holes on the other side of Alwoodley Lane.

In recent years, Andy Watson has carried out an extensive audit of the course, recommending a number of improvements to the golf club committee, and this has resulted in him carrying out a sensitive mix of renovation and restoration work.

As the architect says, “some of the original MacKenzie features are no longer relevant to the modern game, whilst others have been removed or covered by encroaching tree lines. In places, I have gained approval to restore some of the classic features of this layout, and in other situations, create something of a similar ilk to challenge the modern golfer”.

A newly refurbished clubhouse sits at the top of a hill, to the south of Eccup Reservoir, where holes 1, 5, 6 and 18 run up to and down from this elevated position. The first par three at Sand Moor is not played until the 8th hole, which is played across a gulley to a green that’s guarded on the right by bunkers. The other three short holes on the card are all played on the back nine, at the 10th, 15th and 17th.

Listed in Frank Pennink’s Choice of Golf Courses, he believed Sand Moor to be: “One of the most beautiful courses in the north of England, with wonderful, moorland turf laid on a subsoil of sand and sandstone.”

Additionally he wrote: “It is a moot point as to whether Sand Moor or its neighbour Moortown is the better course – they are so different scenically. But it is certain that Leeds is indeed fortunate to have them, and Alwoodley, three courses of the highest inland calibre.”

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Reviews for Sand Moor

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Description: Sand Moor was originally designed in 1921 by Henry Barran and the course opened for play in 1923. However, it would take another three years (1926) before the golf club was founded. Rating: 6.9 out of 10 Reviews: 15
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Josh P

Next door to Alwoodley and Moortown, Sand Moor is another Yorkshire MacKenzie design, that deserves its place in the neighbourhood.

The layout is over hilly terrain with lots of interesting holes. Early on, players are faced with lots of doglegs such as the 2nd, 3rd and 6th. The approach to the 3rd is played steeply downhill, and reminded me of the shot into the 4th at Lindrick.

For me, the course is characterised by two main things. Firstly, the shapes and features that you would expect to see on a MacKenzie design, but also the large quantity of bunkers. Particuarly prevalent on the par 3s, any members here should be well versed getting out of sand traps.

The 13th hole is my favourite here, measuring just 336 yards and played downhill, but with OB long of the green, iron is the play off the tee. Players must also consider where to play their tee shot to give themselves the best angle. Although any out of bounds is never a welcome addition to a course, I think with it playing just over the back of the green it does add a strategic interest. You only have to look at the 5th at Royal Portrush for a great example of this.

Although not top of peoples agendas on a Leeds golf trip, Sand Moor would provide a great foil for it’s two more high profile neighbours. It’s also great to see the work the club has put in to the course over recent years, including tree removal and a new bunkering style.

July 20, 2020
6 / 10
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Andy Cocker

Let me start by saying, this course is THAT good I.e. 5 golf balls. As part of the sand belt on the North side of Leeds, it shares the same swathe of land as it’s very nearby neighbour, Moortown, with The Alwoodley, just a few hundred yards down the road.

It is in the midst of an upgrade by Andy Watson Golf Design and the changes I saw today whilst playing, including bunker reshaping, additional mounds, tree clearance will be welcome upgrades to this quality course.

Arriving at 8am for a 8.15 tee off, we had the course to ourselves as 1st starters for the day. The clubhouse is modern, large, beautifully decorated and welcoming.

We played off white tee markers, albeit they were placed more where yellow tees would be. At just over 6,000 yards, the course is hugely enjoyable and short enough to be able to post a good score. The fairways were running and the greens immaculate Sand Moor Golf Course - Photo by reviewer for this time of year, true to putt on and reasonable in speed. As a sand based course, exactly what I was hoping for with January golf.

The 1st hole is a nice start to your round. At 475 yards off the yellows it’s a reasonably short par 5, played from a blind tee (there are steps near the tee box so you can get a sight of the hole). A drive down the left hand side, leaves a 2nd shot in top the green for the longer hitter. I played a 2nd and then left a short gap wedge on to the green. 2 putt and a nice start to the round. Trouble on the hole is down the right, where trees can block out your approach shot.

If I have any criticism of this course, it’s the short par 4 2nd. At 256 yards it’s a short hole with the green tucked away to the left. A long iron leaves a relatively straight forward shot into the green. It’s a two tier Mackenzie green, but a par or birdie should be the order of the day. The Design team are adding a bunker to the left and have added some mounds at the end of the fairway to catch the longer hitters (and probably hold up the ball from the 3rd tee) so giving a less than ideal stance for your 2nd.

The 3rd plays down the hill with the green blind below you, even on your 2nd shot. It doesn’t feel like the 5th hardest hole. There is OOB behind the green and I suspect in Summer balls could easily roll through the green and into OOB, but as it’s Winter you could confidently pick your club and land the ball on the soft green knowing it will stop.

The 4th plays back up the hill, a gentle right to left to a long and narrow green. Bunkers to the front protect.

The 5th then plays another short par 4 at 358 yards across a valley leaving a 2nd shot to a green above you. Throughout the greens were magnificent. As it was cool, an extra club plus one for the hill proved right and another birdie attempt (duly missed!)

The 6th is a beautiful hole, Sand Moor Golf Course - Photo by reviewer playing 476 yards and sweeping left to right, with new bunkers being built down the left hand side and the green heavily protected on the right side for the approaching 2nd shot. Like many of the greens here, multi tiered.

The 7th is then played back across the valley and again uphill to a green (not too dissimilar to the 5th), is relatively straightforward.

Then you get to the 1st of the par 3’s. The par 3’s are all beautiful holes, similar to each other to be honest in design apart from the 8th i.e. all the others are built into the hill side, with trouble always to the left hand side. This par 3 is played across the valley, with the bunker to the right. A sand save enabled me to walk away with a par.

The 9th then plays along the top of the plateau, the views you get across to Eccup Resevoir and the course below you are wonderful. The green is protected by bunkers left and right. The bunkers by the way are beautifully consistent throughout the course, with quality sand.

The 2nd of the par 3’s then follows on the 10th and is the longest (just) of the remaining par 3’s. Trouble to the left i.e. the hillside falls away from the green, but bunkers to the front right and right. A long thin green. Needless to say myself and my playing partner both found the bunkers. He managed a sand save this time.

Then you head down the hillside with the 11th, a lovely sweeping left to right hole. Avoid the bunkers to the right and and leave a nice 2nd shot into a sloping back to front green, which again has some additional mounds added to the back of the green. The view onto the reservoir is beautiful.

The 12th is a par 5 played blind alongside the reservoir. Aim your tee shot to the left hand side of the markers to leave your ball on the higher flat ground. Anything right feeds down to the reservoir. Banking ensures your ball stya in play. This is a long par 5 at 529 yards but can easily be reached in 3. Sloping back to front green again.

A short walk back towards the Sand Moor Golf Course - Photo by reviewer 13th and a beautiful short but tricky hole. Aim should be left leaving a short item into a downhill green. Too far right and you need to up and over a large tree. Bunkers protect to all sides but one of the flatter greens on the course.

The 14th is a lovely long par 4 at 458 yards. Played back onto the plateau it is straightforward as long as you indeed are straight!

Then another par 3 again with trouble short and left to a 2 tier green.

The 16th is another par 5 and after your drive the hole really opens up and the view to the green and how it is built into the hillside is a wonderful looking hole. There has been tree clearance to the rear of the green so it has really opened up. Conditioning throughout was wonderful. The fairways ran well given how much rain we have had and as mentioned before the bunkers were immaculate and greens ran very true.

Then the last par 3, almost a replica of the 15th, playing similar yardages, Last par 3, both par’s.

The final hole plays back to the clubhouse and is an hill. However at 378 yards, a straight drive away leaves a 2nd over the brow of the hill and to a green that has started to fall away on the other side. 2 good shots and you should be putting for birdie and settling for a par at worse.

This is a beautiful course and in my opinion (and Frank Pennink’s) adds an excellent additional choice when playing in North Leeds. I would say I enjoyed it better than Moortown - that’s probably because I scored well (shot 8 over off a 12 h’cap) and from chatting with a Moortown member, he likes Sand Moor for the same reason - it’s a very fair course, where good shots are rewarded. Moortown and Alwoodley you are simply up against it all round. The views at Sand Moor are beautiful, the par 3’s to die for and the general aesthetics of the course lovely to view. The only negative is the short 2nd and possibly the blind 3rd but that really would be nitpicking. At £30 Winter rate this represented excellent value for money as well. A coffee afterwards in the equally impressive clubhouse finished off a most wonderful morning.

Highly recommend.

January 23, 2020
8 / 10
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Ed Battye

Sand Moor Golf Club, located in the golfing-haven of North Leeds, was developed under the guidance of the famed Dr. Alister MacKenzie in the mid 1920s.

Situated close to two other famous MacKenzie courses, Alwoodley and Moortown, this venue also boasts many of the Good Doctor’s trademarks and has a particularly strong set of short holes.

A major change to the course took place in the late 1960s when the first two and last two holes were lost and land to the west of the original course was purchased for three new holes. A fourth hole was also then created between the current 12th and 14th.

A few years ago The Club began a project to update the course, to stay abreast of modern day equipment but remain loyal to the original design concept, and the fruits of this labour are now starting to reap its rewards.

The collection of par-three’s often get the plaudits at Sand Moor and rightly so because they are all superb. The only minor criticism is that they all tend to play a similar yardage and the severest danger on them all is to the left. However, individually they are things of beauty and a real joy to play. The angle of the greens, the borrows of the putting surfaces and the visually striking bunkering all add up to create wonderful golf holes. In my view the clearance of many trees around the holes would make the contouring and features of each hole stand out even more and take them to the next level.

There are a lot of good things going on during the round at Sand Moor and you are required to be able to play a number of different shots; sometimes you can open your shoulders with the driver whilst at other times placement is crucial. The greens have the perfect amount of slope and keep it interesting until you have holed out.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

April 07, 2017
6 / 10
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Jonathan

Really good fun course. Not too challenging. Very entertaining layout and the greens are excellent. Will be back.

September 10, 2016
8 / 10
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George Hopper
From the 6th-18th hole, there is no better run of holes in all of yorkshire, with the 6th being a stunning 480 yard par 4, which bends around the corner. The par 3's are the real highlight for me however, with the pick of being the 165 yard 10th hole, which im told has been rebunkered this season. In my three ball we all missed the green, and none of us made three! The green is a reasonably generous target although severely guarded by bunkers and dense fescew rough to the right handside. The only let down is the par four 18th hole- this course is certainly deserving of a better finishing hole. Having also recently visited ganton, alwoodley, lindrick and ilkley, i would certainly put sandmoor above ilkley and it is worthy of a much higher place in the yorkshire rankings
June 22, 2015
8 / 10
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Aidan Healey
Played SandMoor a few times so was nice to come back, always been impressive and somewhat a hidden gem in Leeds because of it's famous next door neighbours in Alwoodley and Moortown. Condition is always fantastic, greens firm and fast, fairways Sand Moor Golf Course - Photo by reviewercut tight and tees perfect. Currently in the process of changing all sand in the bunkers and it makes the course look visually much better. A few holes have had bunkers removed and in a certain case like the beautiful 11th, 3 new bunkers have been moved further up into the centre of the fairway making it a forced carry of around 240 from the Tiger tees. You are in the "Amen Corner" of the course here, the beautiful yet tricky par 3 10th, fantastically designed par 4 11th and then a great par 5 over the heather running along the Eccup Resovoir. All in all SandMoor is a beautiful layout, visually stunning in areas but in general with the wind blowing it can play a brute of a course. The set of par 3s are fantastic and how par 3s should be, all around the 150-170 yard mark with small undulating greens surrounded by bunkers and gorse. Along with Ganton I believe you have the best set of Par 3s in Yorkshire here.
May 22, 2015
6 / 10
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WRD
Located in North Leeds and surrounded by two other great courses (Alwoodley and Moortown), Sand Moor is often overlooked by golfers visiting the county. However it is well worth a visit and has a variety of excellent holes. The stretch from 10-17 is among the best collection of holes you are to find anywhere- the 10th being one of the standout holes on the course in a brilliant collection of par 3s. It is not the longest (6600 is off the whites) but the conditioning is excellent from March to December and is certainly worth playing. The main defences are the Mackenzie greens and slick greens. The course has gone under a remodelling phase recently with the replacement of bunkers on the 11th and some re-modelling of greens back to how Mackenzie had designed them- these changes only add to the character of the course and strengthen its position in the Top 100 list. Sand Moor also boasts excellent practice facilities and an extremely welcoming pro shop. In my opinion Sand Moor could push for a place in the English Top 100; I would say a five ball rating is appropriate.
May 13, 2015
8 / 10
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Stu
I have been fortunate enough to play sand moor a few times and also some of it's more prestigious neighbours. Whilst it might not have the prestige of clubs such as moortown, it is unremittingly good fun. I appreciate golf is subjective but I struggle to understand why everyone says sand moor isn't quite at the standard of other local courses when actually it is a lot more fun! Perhaps I am uncultured but I have thoroughly enjoyed every hole at sand moor - not something I can say about many other clubs. Perhaps it lacks the finesse of other clubs but when you finish your round smiling from ear to ear - despite some shocking play, then that is the hallmark of an outstanding course. I would recommend sand moor wholeheartedly and look forward to returning there this season for another round.
April 18, 2014
8 / 10
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Eddie Maylor
Sand Moor is an Alister MacKenzie designed course but after playing here you wouldn’t need to be told this as it is obvious from all the shapes and features on the course. The first is a nice par five, firing your tee shot over a brow (try to hit a draw). The second is a very short par 4 with nice houses on the left that are OOB, either go for the green with a draw or play an iron to the fairway and attack the flag with a wedge. The 3rd has OOB all down the left and fairway bunkers on the right, then drops down to the green. The stroke 1 (6th) is a long par four, with an elevated tee where a really good tee shot will leave you a full 3 wood to the green. All the par 3’s are very picturesque, the first one is the 8th which has a long narrow green that would be easy to hit if it wasn’t 186 yards long. Hit a fade up the 9th as everything falls away to the left, then you will have a short iron to the green. On the 10th we had a chat to the green keeper who was telling us about the course, including a few lines for the next few holes. Make sure you take an extra club on the 10th it’s more uphill than you think. Stay right off the tee on the 11th and 12th as there is a lot of trouble on the right. The 13th is the only hole I didn’t like, although only a short par 4 it is difficult to create a straightforward approach shot to the green. The 16th is a very long par 5 of 556 yards, the green has a false front so aim for the middle of the green. The 17th has several large green-side bunker, but the bunkers are nice to play out of, I made a sandy par. The 18th is a tough par 4, with a steep hill to go up, then a blind approach shot. The club house has a good balcony to watch the people playing the 18th.
May 28, 2013
8 / 10
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Aidan Healey
Played here twice along with the nearby heathland gems Moortown and Alwoodley and was very impressed. Not as good as the other 2 but still a super golf course with a great layout. The greens are very slick and fairly undulating so if you don't put yourselves in the right spots on the greens then expect a few 3 putts! Some lovely holes with the 11th, 12th and 16th being the standouts. Also watch out for the par 3s which in my opinion are the hardest set in Yorkshire bar Ganton. They are all very similar length (170yards) but beware of the small greens surrounded by the strategically placed bunkers in which an arrow straight tee shot is needed. Well worth a visit and I'm sure you'll enjoy your round looking over the eccup reservoir and Yorkshire countryside!
December 09, 2012
8 / 10
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