Harry Colt designed Woodsome Hall Golf Club in 1922 and the club’s first professional, William Button, oversaw the construction. He and thirty others built 13 holes that year, completing the full course twelve months later. James Braid visited the club in 1929 and suggested modifications to holes 1, 8, 14 to 16 and 18. He also asked for the nines to be switched so his revised layout is the classic parkland course in play today.
Not many courses are ever in danger of being overshadowed by buildings on their property but it’s impossible to write about Woodsome Hall without making mention of the former 16th century manor that now doubles as its magnificent old clubhouse and it really has to be one of the most impressive in all of England.On the course, there are only two par fives on the card, one on each nine, contributing to a par of 70. The left doglegged 5th is a lovely short par four on the outward half with rhododendrons lining the right of the fairway. On the inward half, the uphill 11th (“Armoury”) and right doglegged 15th (“Keeper’s Cottage”) are another couple of lovely old-fashioned short two-shotters.
On the final day before lockdown, I managed to squeeze a 2pm tee time at Woodsome Hall with my friend who is a member there.
Playing on all 18 greens and with a Winter par 3 squeezed in between holes 16 and 17 (replaces the 3rd which is closed off in the winter) we did wonder whether we would get round before darkness.
The entrance and driveway to the grand Hall never fails to create a Wow moment as you arrive. It's such a classy start to your afternoon. The 1st tee, with the Hall directly behind also impresses. This is a short course by modern standards. It has its fair share of downhill holes (1st, 6th, 9th, 16th and 17th) but also a good number of uphill holes to balance (2nd, 5th, 12th, 13th and 14th).
It wends its way up and down and across the hillside, a mix of parkland and woodland.
My favourite section remains holes 14-16, played up, along the top and then back down the hillside. The 15th is a beautiful looking par 4, with bunkers cleverly placed to catch your drives and the 16th a picturesque and woodland framed par 5, to a green below the fairway. It offers good risk and reward options, where you could be putting for eagle or potentially losing a shot after finding the trees.
The 17th downhill from a myriad of tee options is a class looking hole played through tall trees forming a narrow funnel.
Whilst the greens were spongy given the high level of recent rain in this area, they were all in play.
This is a delightful Harry Colt designed and James Braid modified course. If you are fans of these golden age designers, then playing this course and also Wortley and Hallamshire whilst in this area of Yorkshire is highly recommended.
“Harry Colt designed”? I’m not sure there’s any evidence of that.
James, Woodsome Hall was not listed as a Colt course in Fred W. Hawtree’s Colt & Co course list, but the club’s history claims Colt was the architect. In the book James Braid and his Four Hundred Courses, authors John F. Moreton and Iain Cumming commented as follows: “Woodsome Hall was designed by H.S. Colt in 1922 and was fully opened the next year.”
Based on the club history, we should take it that Colt did visit the club in 1921 and reported on the ground. He may well have provided a routing, but did not oversee the build, which would explain why Woodsome Hall is not listed in the Colt & Co catalogue. However, we feel the evidence suggests Colt was involved at the beginning and therefore think it's fair to attribute Woodsome Hall's design to Colt until proved otherwise.
Thank you Top 100 Admin. James, so many courses have varying degrees of architects/designer involvements over the years, and regardless of whether its listed in a definitive Harry Colt list, he clearly was involved at the outset given the information to hand. The same can be said about Wortley which is a few miles away.
Interesting. My mistake - although the fact that the club website ascribes it to “H.S. Scott” didn’t help! A typo I presume.
Woodsome Hall is a traditional club in all repsects. When i last visted you still had to have a jacket and tie to eat in the main restaurant. My friend is a member there and whilst it is relaxing some of its older traditions, the clubhouse is so grand it will always have a wow feeling when you enter through the gates up the long driveway between the practice ground and the 18th fairway.
The 1st tee is directly in front of the Hall on what would have been a lawn, raised above the 1st hole.
1st 2 holes play down hill and back up again and are an unspectacular start. The course really starts to take shape on the excellent par 3 3rd, followed by a delightful sweeping 4th. The 5th is a short par 4 dog leg left to an uphill green, before you climb the hill further to tee off the 6th, again a picturesque hole. Another par 3 follows then the hardest hole imo as you tee off on a very long par 4 with internal oob on a sweeping left to right hole again to a raised green. You will be getting the drift. This is a hilly course. The 9th is a par 5 running aling the edge of the woods back to the clubhouse. You finish the 1st loop with a short par 3 10th before crossing the drive for what from 12 to 15 is an uphill slog of par4,3 4. I love the 15th which is across the top of this highest point before a par 5 starts ro take you back down the hill. The 17th is wonderful. Off the back tees the trees either side act like a funnel and requires a really straight shot. Whilst the hole isnt long you need to be in position to confidently hit the green. The 18th isnt the strongest with oob now along the practice ground but the green placement is good as you play back to the Hall.
A parkland/woodland course which i think plays harder than its yardage, although interestingly my friend thought my home course of Wortley offered a much stiffer challenge.
Some golf clubs hit you with a 'wow' factor the moment you drive through their gates. Woodsome Hall is certainly one of those.
It is a traditional club steeped in history but also provides a fair test of golf and recent work to the bunkering at this West Yorkshire course has given it a pleasing facelift.
The front nine at Woodsome Hall is the pick of the two halves. Not only is it played through the most picturesque part of the course but it also serves up the best holes.
The drive at the first can be intimidating because it is right in front of the imposing 16th century Grade 1 listed clubhouse and adjacent to the putting green where everybody will pause (and watch) whilst you hit your opening tee shot...
Woodsome Hall is at its best on a glorious summer's day when all the flora is in full bloom and the course is playing lush but firm.
The greens are just about perfect; there is good variety amongst the many breaks and swales where leaving yourself above the hole can result in a daunting putt. There is a good mix of holes too with several birdie chances along with a handful of more challenging holes.
It's also worth noting the excellent practice facilities available including an indoor centre above the pro-shop.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.