Wakefield Golf Club was founded at a meeting of interested parties at the Bull Hotel, Wakefield in August 1891. Nine holes were set out on Heath Common and play got under way on 2 April 1892.
A Special General Meeting of the club was held in November 1910, with members approving a proposal to move 2½ miles to a new site owned by Sir Thomas Pilkington at Woodthorpe. Sandy Herd then laid out eighteen holes and the new course opened on 30 September 1911.
Five months later, Herd, Fowler, Colt and MacKenzie were all asked to submit their fees for bunkering plans. Alister MacKenzie was chosen to submit a report for his quoted fee of five guineas and work was authorised to start as soon as his suggestions were received.
The course was then officially opened on 25 May 1912 with an exhibition match between James Braid and J.H. Taylor. Club membership rose from 278 eight months earlier to 430 by the end of 192, more than double the number in the last year playing at Heath Common.
The course today is essentially the same as back then, with an anti-clockwise routed front nine enclosing a clockwise back nine, each loop starting from and returning to the clubhouse. The main differences are the current 1st and 2nd which were the old 1st and the original par three 3rd which no longer exists.
Wakefield Golf Club is situated in Sandal on the outskirts of Wakefield, close to Sandal Castle, Pugneys Country Park and Newmillerdam. It’s a traditional members club set out over undulating parkland. It’s a nice course but one which ultimately does not ‘stand out’ in my view, partly because of it’s open nature i.e. the fairways are separated by trees but you do get the feeling of playing ‘up and down’ with not too many holes in seclusion. That said it is a good course and good test of your game, with the green complexes particularly good.
It’s an interesting mix with 3 par 3’s and 3 par 5’s. The par 3’s are good and a mix of distances . The 1st of the par 3’s comes as early as the 2nd hole and is an attractive hole played across a valley so all carry. The next par 3 is the 7th which plays 220 yards off the back tees and the final one at hole 16.
The par’s come thick and fast, with holes 5, 8 and 11, the best in my view being the 11th as it sweeps gently right to left, with good bunkering off the tee to catch the drive to far right and then a lovely green to fire your 2nd/3rd shot into. The other 2 par 5’s are just long and straight.
This leaves the par 4’s. Not too many are standout but the stretch 12th - 14th is a nice part of the course and the holes are a little more secluded from each other. The 12th is a downhill short par 4 and visually looks good. Bunkers on the left protect, and there is a brook that runs across the fairway short of the green. Nice shaped green with good contours make this a good hole. This is followed by the 13th which is a dog left right so key is getting past the trees on the right before playing up to a green above you which slopes back to front. A nice hole. Long hitters may try and take the corner. The 14th is also a lovely par 4 which has a large drop to a well protected green.
The course plays in 2 loops of nine so various options are there to play fewer holes than 18 with several ‘cut across’ available. The 9th back to the clubhouse is a strong and tough par 4 although laced out in front of you as is the 18th, so both good finishes to either loop.
What lets it down in my opinion is the lack of too many inspiring par 4’s, 12th-14th excluded and the 6th which is another lovely hole where the green is protected by bunkers, water to the front and OOB to the back across a narrow green. So that leaves 8 par 4’s which are OK but nothing special. The 1st is a disappointment, with tee close to OOB and a hole which reflects the majority of the par 4’s
I get to play this course at least once a year and the more I play the more I remember it and it grows on me but it has taken sometime to get to this point.
Wakefield Golf Club, founded in 1891, is an established, traditional parkland layout in West Yorkshire with an excellent set of short holes. It is a prime example that displays just how much strength in depth there is in Yorkshire because this course often goes under the radar of the visiting golfer to the White Rose county.
The course is mildly undulating and predominantly tree-lined which places a premium on straight driving from the tee. At over 6,600 yards this par 72 layout also plays quite long.
Where there is more movement in the land it has been used to good effect, particularly at the par threes.
The three par fives come in the space of just six holes (5, 8 & 11) and whereas the short holes excite these just go about their business in a more pedestrian manner. The fifth is without doubt the standout with yet another fine green setting.
That then leaves us with no less than 12 par fours. There is good variety in this dozen with a couple of gentler ones towards the beginning of the round, which give the opportunity of a fast start, but even the more accomplished player will accept pars at the difficult and long ninth, 14th, 17th and 18th.
In between these you have a terrifying pitch over water at the sixth, especially if the pin is located on the right-side of the green, a real risk-reward hole at the 12th, where driving the green is a real possibility but so is finding the stream that cuts across the front of it, and the 13th also provides options from the tee.
All-in-all it adds up to a pleasurable experience and one I personally look forward to playing annually in one of the many open competitions here.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.