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.”
June 28, 2009