Northern Golf: The Mackenzie Trail
This Trail takes you to our six most authentic Dr. MacKenzie courses in the northern counties of Durham and Yorkshire. Three of these courses are also in our Top 100 Trail. One course is a seaside links golf course, one is parkland and four are heathland or moorland or a mixture of both.
Defining heathland and moorland can be tricky but in simple terms, heathland is sandy and free-draining whereas moorland is typically higher ground with peaty soil which retains moisture. We have selected hotels at Durham and Leeds, Durham is an interesting historic city and the Leeds area is where the Doctor lived until he later emigrated to California.
His initial work was at Alwoodley Golf Club which is on the northern outskirts of Leeds. You start the trail at South Moor Golf Club which ironically claims to be heathland. The club was originally for Coal Miners only. The members like to quote “from Miners to The Masters”.
A Typical England Golf Tour Itinerary
|Arrive at London or Manchester drive to the Durham Marriott Hotel Royal for three nights
|Play South Moor is a superb heathland layout where each hole presents a different challenge, particularly the vast, fast MacKenzie greens.
|Play Seaton Carew Old a seaside links that essentially retains the original MacKenzie layout. It is an out and back course and relatively flat which means it is always at the mercy of the wind.
|Drive to the Westwood Hall Hotel in Leeds for four nights, play Shipley, a parkland course. It is unusual in that it has six par three holes.
|Play Crosland Heath a heathland / moorland course with firm springy fairways and spectacular “tower” par 3’s based around old quarries. The second highest course in England but flat walking.
|Play Alwoodley, the Doctors first course and a design of rare subtlety and sophistication. The bunkering is superb requiring strategic choices. The greens are large and many are undulating. The inward nine is normally tougher as most holes are played into the prevailing wind from the Yorkshire Moors. It is 6900 yards, par 72 from championship tees.
|Play Moortown which is now up to 7000 yards off the back tees and par 71, SSS 75. The fairways are wide and many are flanked with heather, but despite the length, accuracy is the more important strategy. The thoughtful holes have a great deal of variety yet are in line with MacKenzie principles. They requiring a great deal of care in shot-making.
|Depart from London or Manchester Airport
South Moor Golf Club
South Moor is at Stanley near Sunderland. Here Dr. MacKenzie created a stunning county championship venue that winds between gorse, heather and bracken in a superb heathland layout. Amid the natural terrain, the sloping and undulating fairways on the par fours and fives encourage a sense of adventure.
It is a course that always keeps you interested as each and every hole offers up its own unique challenge. The greens are fast and mainly vast, the speed adds to the challenge of negotiating the contours, swales, crowns, tiers and terraces with which MacKenzie has endowed these beautifully shaped greens.
It is sloped on greens of this kind which are so often overlooked in designing a golf course and it is one of the most difficult things imaginable to construct them really well. Subtleties of this nature make all the difference between a good course and a bad one. The course is always in great condition, if you keep to the fairway you can shoot a good score but stray from the fairway and the gorse or rough will gladly accept your ball.
Seaton Carew Old Course
A true links course Seaton is the 10th oldest course England and provides a memorable challenge in the dunes north of the mouth of the River Tees. Its unfashionable location on the North East coast with an industrial skyline and backdrop gets some negative comments.
However, the Old course virtually retains the original Alister Mackenzie layout which will maintain any serious golfer’s attention and concentration. It is an out and back layout and relatively flat which means it is always at the mercy of the wind. The fairways undulate gently and there are a few dunes. (6603, par 71 from back tees)
Shipley Golf Club
Set in a wonderful wooded valley on the outskirts of Bingley, it is a peaceful place where you can enjoy nature as well as golf. The course is the creation of the renowned architect Dr. Alister Mackenzie who laid out the course with subtly sloping greens and narrow approaches. It runs across the rolling valley floor of Beckfoot in a very pleasant environment of traditional parkland providing golfers of any standard with a test of their skill and accuracy.
Unusually for a course of this standard, there are six par three holes but do not be fooled into thinking that makes it easy. The par-three seventh is the course’s signature hole. A testing downhill, mid to long iron shot with the babbling Harden Beck both to the left and rear of the small green ready to engulf the errant shot. Seven tough par fours and five modest length par fives complete the challenge. There are mature trees lining the fairways, and several ditches and ponds to test the shot maker’s skill.
Crosland Heath Golf Club
Crosland Heath sits on the hills above the old Industrial town of Huddersfield and is the second-highest course in England. There are panoramic views over the Colne Valley and even with its lofty Pennine position, it is a flat, easy walking course measuring just over 6100 yards.
A perfect example of an Alister MacKenzie design, the course is relatively unchanged from its original design of 100 years ago. It is known for the quality of its greens and is a testing course often with challenging winds.
The heathland/moorland course is free draining with firm springy fairways with spectacular “tower” par 3’s based around old quarries. The par 5 & par 3 holes all run in opposing directions as do the opening 4 holes, so you play to all points of the compass. The quality of the course throughout the year is exceptional.
Alwoodley Golf Club
Alwoodley is recognised as one of the finest inland courses in England and is the pick of a cluster of courses stretching across the moors north of Leeds. Dr. MacKenzie’s design is one of rare subtlety and sophistication. Alwoodley is a natural heathland/moorland course with fine crisp springy fairways.
There is a profusion of heather, whins and shrubs. The bunkering is superb requiring strategic choices. The greens are large and many are undulating. It is an out and back course with the inward nine normally tougher as most holes are played into the prevailing wind from the Yorkshire Moors. It is 6900 yards, par 72 from championship tees.
Moortown Golf Club
Moortown off the back tees is now up to 7000 yards (par 71 SSS 75) and it possesses some very testing, long par fours. It is a classic moorland course with lovely bouncy turf. The fairways are wide many are flanked with heather, but despite the length, accuracy is the more important strategy. The 10th known as Gibraltar is the signature hole 156 yards par 3.
The name comes from it being built over a large rock. The thought-provoking holes, in keeping with MacKenzie principles, offer a great deal of variety in look feel and shot-making.
See more of our 5-star England golf tours. Play around the capital on one of our London Golf Tours, Head over to the South West and make a foray into Wales. Play like a PGA pro on our Open Golf Courses Tour, and much more.
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