The club was originally established as Shipley and Saltaire Golf Club in 1896, when a founders meeting at the Manor House in Shipley fixed subscriptions at 1 guinea for gentlemen and 10 shillings and sixpence for ladies. The club’s course opened the following year, on 6 March 1897, with holes laid out on fields leased from farmers at Moorhead
The Yorkshire Post then reported on 29 October 1919 that Alister MacKenzie had approved a proposed site for a new course at Beckfoot Farms outside Bingley which the club had purchased at public auction the previous day. A Special General Meeting two weeks later appointed MacKenzie as the person to lay out the course for a fee of £200.
On 20 June 1921, the course for the renamed Shipley Golf Club was officially opened. The clubhouse was unveiled the following year and this was marked with an exhibition match involving James Braid, Harry Vardon and club professional Harry Loveridge, who went on to complete forty-nine years of service with the club.
Bounded on three sides by Harden Beck, with dense woodland to the south of the property, the course today is largely as quiet and peaceful as the day MacKenzie completed his design more than a century ago. Apart from the order in which the holes are played, Shipley in the modern era is the Shipley that golfers enjoyed at the start of the 1920s.
The course measures 6,220 yards from the back tees, playing to a par of 71, out in 37 then back in 34. There are six short holes on the card, three on each nine, with back-to-back par fives at the 4th and 5th and back-to-back par threes at the 7th and 8th . The 190-yard 7th is the “signature” hole, playing downhill to a two-tiered green next to the beck.
Around the world, especially in the USA, Alastair MacKenzie courses are held in the highest regard and incredibly sought after. In Yorkshire, home of the good doctor for a long period early on in his life, there are lots of MacKenzie courses to choose from. One example of this is Shipley, near Bradford
I’m sure it now plays different to how originally intended, with lots of trees meaning tight fairways, but there are interesting features throughout. The 2nd is a sharp dogleg to the right, which sets the tone for the course. The 4th and 5th are played alongside each other and have rumpled fairways that you might expect to see on a links course.
The 7th was a favourite hole, a downhill par 3 with a stream on the left on the green. This is followed by another par 3, an example of MacKenzie not worrying about back to back par 3s on the routing. The routing is unique, as the front 9 also has 4 par 5s. The 9th is one of these, and has an interesting bowl green.
The greens are well bunkered throughout, they don’t look threatening but after you keep finding yourselves in them you gain more of an appreciation for their placement. The 13th is a short par 3, which makes the most of the acreage as it plays straight across the 12th fairway, something you wouldn’t expect to be built nowadays. The 16th is a short par 4 where missing the green can lead to a big score, and the par 3 17th has some slopey run off areas round the greens. The greens are good in general, but perhaps not as undulating as other MacKenzie designs round Yorkshire.
This course is set amidst a wonderful wooded valley on the outskirts of Bingley, the course is the creation of the renowned Dr Alister Mackenzie. It stretches across the rolling valley floor of Beckfoot.
Unusually for a course of this standard there are six Par 3 holes one of which, the 7th, is the Course's signature hole. A testing downhill, mid to long iron shot with the babbling Harden Beck both to the left and rear of the small green ready to swallow up the errant shot. Seven tough Par 4's and 5 medium Par 5's make up the rest of the challenge with mature trees lining the fairways, and several ditches and ponds.
The course opens with the first of five par 5s, four of which are on the front nine, and then a cracking par 4 to a beautifully-sited green in the picture above. You then encounter the first of six very varied, testing and enjoyable short holes
The 6th is a strong par 4 before you reach two fabulous par 3s, unusually back to back. The first of these, the 7th, is played down to a green flanked by Harden Beck, a tributary for the River Aire which runs all the way down the left and then round behind the green.
I know that a hole that crosses back over another one is not ideal, but the short 13th is a fine par 3 to a well-protected green
The last short hole is one of the prettiest, no great distance to an attractive, shady setting in the trees.
I played this in a Texas Scramble and had the most fantastic day. Highly recommend