Alwoodley Golf Club

Alwoodley Golf Club | NCG Top 100s: GB&I Golf Courses

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. 
The original Dr Alister 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. The most recent course work, conducted by Clyde Johnson who trained under Tom Doak, has seen extensive tree removal, gorse and heather management and reconfiguration of some of that bunkering.
In 2019, when Alwoodley was proud to host the Brabazon Trophy only 12 players finished under par. 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.
Alwoodley is regarded as certainly in the top three courses in Yorkshire, alongside Ganton and Moortown, and, for many, is the best in the county and one of the very best in the North of England.

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A Brief History of Alwoodley Golf Club

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.
Alwoodley was the very first course designed by MacKenzie and it was followed by Moortown in 1909 whose clubhouse is just half a mile round the corner. MacKenzie was both a founder member of Alwoodley and also the first secretary until he resigned in May 1909. He was then immediately elected as a member of the green committee and he became captain in 1912. At the same time his wife Edith was continuing as lady captain for her second year in office.
His work in the North Leeds area 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.
At Alwoodley, the Stroke Index does not always equate with degree of difficulty – the indices were devised in 1907 and were created for matchplay, in the days before Stableford had even been invented. The idea is to spread the shot allocation evenly through the round. So, the odd-numbered holes are ranked 10 to 18 and the even-numbered holes 1 to 9. If you were giving someone nine shots, it would be simply be on every other hole starting from the 2nd.
In addition, the course is split into quadrants so that if you were receiving, say, four shots, then you would get them on the 4th, 8th, 12th and 16th. Within these parameters, there is a nod to the actual holes but only that. So none of the par 3s have a low index.
You have to accept that you may be giving or receiving on a hole that is not that hard but it evens itself out.

What it does avoid are the scenarios where a) the lower handicapper is several holes up and the match is over before the higher handicapper has chance to use their shots and b) the higher handicapper is several holes up having basically used all of their shots up through, say, 14 holes.

Alwoodley Golf Club Review | NCG Top 100s: GB&I Golf Courses

The Front Nine

By no means straightforward, if you are to put together a good score then you will have to do most of the good work on the front nine. MacKenzie loved to tease the golfer with shots that were partially but not completely blind and this is the case at the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th where you can see some but not all of the fairway. There is a (slim) chance to drive the 2nd before you cross a path where the course really opens up. 
The par-5 3rd is maybe your best chance of a birdie and the 4th is a par 5 off the white or a very stiff 4 off the yellows. The 8th and 9th are probably the two stand-out holes on the front side, the former is a very grand par 5 that dog-legs left and where cross bunkers will catch the eye while the 9th is a magnificent par 3 that is played back to a picturesque green. All the par 3s deserve special mention, both for their variety and appearance. 

The Back Nine

We begin at the 10th, another hole that is a par 4 off the yellows and a 5 off the back tees, and there is a fascinating history at this hole. MacKenzie based his design of the famous par-5 13th at Augusta National on the 10th at Alwoodley. Both holes are exciting risk-and-reward par 5s and both feature uphill tee shots to fairways that swing sharply to the left at driving distance. 

Both feature second shots from hanging lies with the ball above the player’s feet and both holes have been the subject of talk about being extended: Alwoodley’s 10th has been lengthened from 482 yards to 525 while Augusta have acquired an additional piece of land to add 50 yards to their 13th.
That is then followed by the pick of the short holes that features a devilish green and the par-4 13th is one for the purists where all of the hole is visible and a lone oak tree sits to the right of a vast green. Then you need to strap yourself in for the run for home as a lengthy par 3 and four testing par 4s take you back to the clubhouse. The tee shot from the 18th is one that is well-pictured and a closing 4 reflects a brilliant finish.

Where is Alwoodley Golf Club located?

In the north of Leeds in West Yorkshire. It is a 10-minute drive from the city centre and a one-minute drive from its neighbour Moortown.

For international visitors, Leeds Bradford Airport is the nearest international airport, located just seven miles to the west. Manchester Airport provides more international flights daily, and is approximately 90 minutes from Alwoodley.

What golf facilities does Alwoodley offer?

There is a practice ground which includes a recent short-game area as well as a putting green that sits beside the very stylish clubhouse.

Is Alwoodley open to non-members?

Yes, visitors are welcome and a green fee here is £175 from June to October and £125 out of season. The club have availability for visitors on selected Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Does Alwoodley offer golf lessons?

Yes, a range of coaching options from a one-off lesson to a full assessment package. There is leading technology on offer and group coaching is also available.

Book to play on the NCG Top 100s Tour at Alwoodley.
Visit Alwoodley's website here.
Go back to the NCG Top 100s Homepage.