Alwoodley is a natural heathland course, with springy fairways cutting through a profusion of heather, whins and shrubs. It features eye-catching and naturalistic-looking bunkers, strategic choices, and large, often undulating greens. The course runs almost straight out and back, the inward nine being tougher as most holes are played into the prevailing wind. At Alwoodley, the Stroke Index does not always equate with degree of difficulty – the indices were devised in 1907 when golf was mainly matchplay.
The Alwoodley Golf Club was founded in 1907, and the course was laid out that year on land forming part of the Harewood estate, on the outskirts of Leeds. One of the founders was a certain local GP, Dr. Alister MacKenzie, who designed the course.
This established his reputation as a golf course architect, and he went on to create masterpieces including Augusta National and Cypress Point in the USA, and Royal Melbourne in Australia.
The original MacKenzie layout remains, although now lengthened to 6,900 yards from the championship tees. The Club has been careful to retain the heathland character of the course, as well as the MacKenzie ethos of variety, natural beauty, and risk/reward shot making.
In recent years the high quality of the course has been enhanced by major investment, whilst maintaining the integrity of the MacKenzie design. In particular the bunkering is increasingly prominent, emphasising the considerable challenge that the course presents.
Over 100 years on, Alwoodley continues to be a sought after venue for major tournaments, hosting events for the R&A, England Golf, and the Yorkshire Union on a regular basis.