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Alwoodley Golf Club: The Course

Alwoodley’s architect, Dr Alister MacKenzie, created a layout of rare subtlety and sophistication.

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!

Hole by Hole Guide to Alwoodley

1st

Blue 404 yards, par 4; White 404 yards, par 4; Yellow 388 yards, par 4; Red 369 yards, par 4

An ideal opening hole – it unfolds into the distance and all the features are in clear view from the tee. A generous fairway awaits and a good drive will bring the large green into range. If you are brave enough to hug the left, the approach becomes easier.

Alwoodley hole by hole1

2nd

Blue 305 yards, par 4; White 305 yards, par 4; Yellow 295 yards, par 4; Red 248 yards, par 4

Drivable for the big hitters, this is an excellent birdie chance. You can also make three the old-fashioned way by laying up and leaving a wedge approach. Beware though - the green is well bunkered and there’s out of bounds just through the back.

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3rd

Blue 514 yards, par 5; White 514 yards, par 5; Yellow 489 yards, par 5; Red 396 yards, par 5

New bunkering down the left makes the tee shot much more difficult on this par 5. The rig-and-furrow fairway offers few level stances but an accurate approach can be chased towards the green. The best pin position is tucked away down the slope on the left. A subtle hole.

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4th

Blue 479 yards, par 4; White 479 yards, par 5; Yellow 454 yards, par 4; Red 395 yards, par 5

A par 5 off the reds, a 4 off the yellows, a 5 off the whites and a 4 off the blues - but whichever tee you play from this is an early test. Anything gained down the 3rd, to which it runs parallel, is often handed back - and more - here. The semi-blind drive - a recurring Alwoodley feature - conceals what is actually a generous fairway with more room to the right than it appears. A running second will chase up towards the green.

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5th

Blue 370 yards, par 4; White 370 yards, par 4; Yellow 345 yards, par 4; Red 315 yards, par 4

Take a moment to admire the views across the heath then take aim at the left half of this sloping fairway. A solid tee shot should leave you with a short iron to the green. Choose enough club to clear the false front.

Alwoodley hole by hole5

6th

Blue 456 yards, par 4; White 422 yards, par 4; Yellow 391 yards, par 4; Red 325 yards, par 4

The drive from the back tee is extremely demanding n this outstanding par 4. Again, the fairway is partially hidden but surprisingly generous, although the right half of it falls away. Take aim at the cross bunker in the middle of the fairway. The green is attractively sited in front of a stand of pines.

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7th

Blue 141 yards, par 3; White 141 yards, par 3; Yellow 141 yards, par 3; Red 128 yards, par 3

The gentlest of Alwoodley’s par 3s, all of which come in the space of eight holes in the middle of the round. Especially when the hole is cut in the front half of the green, this hole offers an excellent chance of a two. The hole is complicated when the wind blows into and off the left - as it often does.

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8th

Blue 591 yards, par 5; White 544 yards, par 5; Yellow 496 yards, par 5; Red 456 yards, par 5

The longest hole on the course is a very different proposition from the championship tee, where the angle is less advantageous, quite apart from the 50 yards that are added. On this stunning, much-photographed par 5, the desired tee shot should draw around the corner, chasing down towards the cross bunkers. The large green is angled towards the fairway and a wood or long iron struck towards its centre is always a truly rewarding experience.

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9th

Blue 235 yards, par 3; White 191 yards, par 3; Yellow 186 yards, par 3; Red 179 yards, par 3

The longest of the short holes (from the back tees) is the most visually spectacular, with the green set below and beautifully framed. Playing for the front edge of the green is a smart idea and leaves a straightforward chip up the green. The grass bunker to the right is a subtle hazard - many threes have been saved from here but others find it difficult to escape from.

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10th

Blue 528 yards, par 5; White 482 yards, par 5; Yellow 459 yards, par 4; Red 363 yards, par 4

The inspiration for Augusta’s 13th hole, the 10th swings from right to left sharply at the crest of the hill. Heroes can earn a shy at the green in two if their drive follows the shape of the fairway but it’s a three-shotter for the rest of us. However, two methodical, circumspect strokes should leave you with a short iron in hand to a green banked severely towards you. Beware the putt - or worse still chip - from the back of the green or beyond. It’s treacherous.

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11th

Blue 176 yards, par 3; White 166 yards, par 3; Yellow 148 yards, par 3; Red 135 yards, par 3

The most famous of Alwoodley’s short holes. The members check where the pin is and then work their strategy back from there. That’s because the green has some severe contours on it. Generally speaking, short and right is a good miss. Four-putts are by no means uncommon here and it is frequently the case that you have to aim at right angles to your eventual target.

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12th

Blue 365 yards, par 4; White 365 yards, par 4; Yellow 346 yards, par 4; Red 334 yards, par 4

A breather before Alwoodley’s notorious closing stretch begins. Take aim at the bunker in the distance to find the generous fairway. You should be left within comfortable range of a large green that is one of the flattest on the course - once you have cleared the false front.

Alwoodley hole by hole12

13th

Blue 403 yards, par 4; White 395 yards, par 4, Yellow 383 yards, par 4; Red 342 yards, par 4

A classy, testing and attractive par 4 played into the prevailing wind marks the beginning of the homeward stretch. Aim as close to the left-hand bunkers as you dare because anything fading right invariably hops and bounces its way into the heather. The green, which is the largest on the course, slopes more from right to left than you might initially realise.

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14th

Blue 205 yards, par 3; White 205 yards, par 3; Yellow 179 yards, par 3; Red 147 yards, par 3

Arguably the most testing of Alwoodley’s short holes usually plays longer than its yardage suggests. Then again, as is so often the way, playing for the front edge of the green is the best miss, ripe for a running chip up the green. Both the bunkers are deep and therefore to be avoided unless your sand play is a strength. The green slopes from back left to front right.

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15th

Blue 409 yards, par 4; White 409 yards, par 4; Yellow 381 yards, par 4; Red 338 yards, par 4

A rare left-to-right dogleg - Alwoodley is generally a course that welcomes a draw - and one of the most dangerous holes on the back nine. There’s little to be gained by hugging the right and much to lose, with out of bounds is close by. There are few flat spots on the green: anything that lands on the front right portion will end up in the bunker while the back section slopes sharply upwards.

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16th

Blue 414 yards, par 4; White 414 yards, par 4; Yellow 402 yards, par 4; Red 378 yards, par 5

Another semi-blind drive. You can see the flag in the distance but not the fairway. In fact, this is a right-to-left dogleg and there is more room to the right than there appears. The large green has several distinct levels.

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17th

Blue 435 yards, par 4; White 435 yards, par 4; Yellow 413 yards, par 4; Red 349 yards, par 4

A very demanding par 4 with an intimidating tee shot. Bunkers and heather await down the right but there’s out of bounds on the other side. The further left you drive, the easier the second and the more you can see down towards the sunken green with its extra-tall flagstick. You can chase one down the hill if you prefer but the large green will accept a well-struck approach that covers the whole distance in the air.

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18th

Blue 484 yards, par 4; White 447 yards, par 4; Yellow 440 yards, par 4; Red 382 yards, par 5

A great finishing hole, probably the best in Yorkshire. From the elevated tee, the challenge is clear and Alwoodley’s clubhouse stands elegantly in the distance. It requires two - three for many of us, especially into the wind - well-struck shots to find the final green. Putting is complicated by a subtle central dome that often seems to take putts away rather than towards the hole.

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