Alwoodley Golf Club. Close to my heart, and close to the top of many a list, writes Tom Irwin

Reason for an Alwoodley Golf Club review

I go there all the time, for it is the club of which I am a member. I’m also playing in the Brabazon Trophy.

Where is Alwoodley?

Spiritually somewhere between 1950 and 1955. Geographically slap in the middle of the north Leeds sand belt just a drive and a pitch from it’s fellow Mackenzie masterpiece, Moortown. It is also close to my heart.

What to expect

Alwoodley 8th hole

A pleasant surprise.

Alwoodley Golf Club does not shout about itself. Most people south of, well, Leeds know its bed fellows Moortown (it has a had a Ryder Cup) and Moor Allerton (it is easy to confuse with Moortown) but are unfamiliar with Mackenzie’s first. That is the way the club likes it.

The course itself is similarly understated, refusing to hang its hat on a cliched ‘signature hole’. Instead it is a relentless feast of heathland finery that strings solid par 4s to par 3s of infinite variety and par 5s of ticklish temptations.

The turf is fast and firm. Bring long straight driving and a solid ground game and you will score well. Off the fairway things are not so pretty – swathes of heather, copses of woodland and some classic Mackenzie bunkering all intimidate and punish in equal measure.

CSS scores in weekly medals are regularly in the mid 70s – that should give you the idea. The punishment though is of the attritional rather than the car crash variety – no water, OOB barely in play, wide fairways, and huge greens mean that bad scoring is almost always self inflicted and leaves you thinking ‘I will get you next time’ rather than ‘I am never going back’.

My best bit

Alister MacKenzie

When you stand on the 13th tee you get the longest unbroken view of heathland anywhere outside of Swinley, when the sun is setting and the light picks out the ripples in the rut and furrow fairways, there are few better spots in inland golf.

Alwoodley has moments of the best golf anywhere, from the back tees 6, 11, and 8 are a 4, 3 and 5 the equal of any. The real genius though is that the course fluctuates only between the very good and the brilliant, and never dips below those high standards.

The practice area is also cool, the chicken baguette is a touch, and the banter in the pro-shop acceptable (depending on who is in).

What to look out for:

Mackenzie buffs. The club is packed with experts on the good Dr.

Some fascinating tales are well worth a listen, if you have say a spare week. These are the highlights:

  • The 10th is the hole on which Mackenzie modelled the 13th at Augusta.
  • The club turned down a reciprocal with Augusta. Fact
  • Each year the subs are calculated by dividing costs among the members. True Rumour.

When I go back:

I will pay my credit off in the shop and settle my bar tab. People are starting to talk .