Wheatley Golf Club was established in 1914, with its course officially opened on 1st March that year. In the early 1930s, Doncaster Corporation made it known that it intended to purchase the club’s property at Wheatley Park, forcing a move to Sandall Grange Farm. The course was to be set out on 130 acres, using a planned construction budget of £3,500 with a similar sum set aside for building a clubhouse.
The new course was laid out by George Duncan in two 9-hole loops (as had been the case before) to a total length of 6,684 yards, which made it one of the longest layouts in Yorkshire at the time. Greens were constructed with turf brought from the old course and bunkers were built to allow easy exit. After many months of hard work, the course and tennis courts were opened for use on 29th March 1934.
Following the Second World War, trees were planted, bunkers improved, and agronomy refined. A greens irrigation system was installed in 1967 to keep the putting surfaces in the best possible shape and decisions relating to course playability were taken to minimise forced carries and generally reduce areas of rough to a minimum. A full fairway watering system was finally introduced in 1996.
In the new millennium, course improvements have continued at a steady pace, evidenced by the installation of new bunkers on the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 7th holes, with others on the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th and 13th moved or replaced. It helps too that the pine and silver birch-lined fairways are set out on one of Doncaster’s largest, sandy-soiled hill locations, which offers great natural drainage and an ideal playing environment.
Wheatley GC is located in the Armthorpe area of Doncaster, surrounded by housing estates and roads. Whilst this doesn't sound idyllic surroundings, don't let this put you off. The course, laid out over relatively flat terrain on well draining sand based soil, weaves its way through birch and pine flanked fairways. Right from the 1st hole the strength and strategic placing of the bunkers stand out and for me the bunkering, design and placement were the standout takeaways from this pleasant, easy walking golf course.
The fairways are wide and generous, with the bunkers providing the main challenge, making you think off the tee and also on approach to the greens.
After a gentle start through 2 par 4s, both laid out straight in front of you, the 1st of 5 par 3's on the course greets you. This is the start of an unusual run of par 3,5,5,3,5,3 holes - not a par 4 in sight.
The course picks up from hole 6, the 2nd of the par 3's and the shortest at 144 yards. With gorse front right of the tee blocking some of the view of the green and bunkers protecting the front left of the green, the key is pick the right club to the centre of the large green.
This lovely short hole is followed by a gentle dog left right par 5 played from a higher tee. Fairway bunkers come into play from the tee. The green is largely flat and I found that most of the greens were flat with less movement on them than you may think.
Another par 3 at 198 yards follows. Practically identical in length to the par 3 3rd, the green complex is surrounded by gorse and birch and is a picturesque setting.
The course is laid out in 2 loops.of 9, so you finish the front nine playing back to the clubhouse. A gentle right to left shape, slightly uphill, a short par 4.
The 2nd nine i found more interesting with elevation changes coming more into play and increased number of pine trees flanking the holes adding more definition.
The more gently undulating land kicks in at hole 12 and the architect has done an excellent job of adding variety to each of the holes and the routing, so a downhill hole 12 is then played to a green above with a wicked false front. This is followed by a blind hole where you drive up and over the hill and then down to a flat green tucked away in the corner of the course. This is followed by an excellent uphill par 3. At 167 yards it plays longer than its yardage. Then back downhill and uphill to a green on the very drivable short par 4 15th. At 274 yards a real eagle chance.
Hole 16 is played alongside the practice ground and also the 17th. Both holes play right to left gentle dog legs. The greens throughout were well maintained although as mentioned above, there was little movement in them.
18th is an excellent finishing par 5, a strong visual off the tee and sweeping left to right par 5, with strategic fairway bunkers and water in front of the green. The decision is whether to lay up or go for the green in two.
Looking at the rankings and based on the courses played in Yorkshire, this is a good course, but I would certainly rank Hillsborough GC and Wakefield higher, but do accept that ranking County listings amongst courses which are not Top.100 in their country, can be more of challenge with little splitting these more mid table offerings.
Thats not taking anything away from Wheatley. A course I'd certainly play again on a warm summers day.
Wheatley Golf Club, on the outskirts of Doncaster, is one of Yorkshire’s better courses but often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
This fast-running parkland course, laid out over sandy terrain, has a number of very good holes, many excellent green complexes and some splendid strategic bunkering.
The current layout, which moved to its present site in 1934, was designed by George Duncan and he has done a wonderful job in routing the holes through majestic birch, oak and pine in two loops of nine that create a hive of activity around the clubhouse.
Par is 71 and the yardage is 6,398 but in the summer months it plays shorter than this because the fairways have good quality turf that provides fast and firm running golf.
Only half of the holes are two-shotter s at Wheatley; there are four par-fives, all within range for longer hitters, and five very fine par-threes. From the third to the eighth there isn’t a par-four to be found, the sequence is; 3, 5, 5, 3, 5, 3.
The property is only mildly undulating but where there are changes in elevation to be found it has been used to good effect to create some strong holes. There is a great mix of holes too; the short 6th is delightful whilst the 475-yard 10th is a mighty hole but it is soon followed by the driveable 15th which has a fantastic large sloping green.
Indeed, the green settings are excellent throughout and particularly well defended by deep sand-traps for a course of this style. All the short holes are well sited and are a real strength of the course whilst I particularly enjoyed the 12th and 13th holes where you firstly play to a raised putting surface with a false-front (similar to one at the fifth) and then drive over the brow of a hill and fire to a more secluded green at the next.
Holes 16 and 17 are slightly marred by the proximity of the practice ground otherwise you play in seclusion for the most of the round through mature woodland.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.