A golfing challenge – a campaign is launched to highlight the county's finest courses
PUBLISHED: 14:10 28 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:05 20 February 2013
Some of the country's finest golf courses can be found in Yorkshire, a fact often overlooked. But a new campaign aims to change all that as Chris Titley reports
He may be more readily associated with the Scotland of his birth, but we can claim Colin Montgomerie as one of our own. Europes Ryder Cup captain spent his formative years in Yorkshire, went to Leeds Grammar School and learned his sport in Ilkley.
Although I have played golf on the finest courses in the world, Ilkley Golf Club will always have a special place in my heart, he has said. The course combines a challenging test of golf with breathtaking scenery and it is always a pleasure to play there.
Monty could have been summing up Yorkshire golf in general. The region is dotted with challenging courses in beautiful scenery. Add in the long history of the game Ilkley club is typical in being well over 100 years old and you have all the ingredients for top class golf.
Yet the world hardly knows it. Think of British courses and the Scottish names trip off the tongue Turnberry, Muirfield, St Andrews. Further south theres The Belfry, Sunningdale and Wentworth. Even across the Pennines theyve got ahead of us with regal clubs like Royal Birkdale and Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Its time to change that. Yorkshire is home to three courses which have staged the Ryder Cup, Moortown, Ganton and Lindrick, and has a host of other championship grade courses. For too long they have been overlooked, so tourist bosses have teed up a campaign to drive the globes golfers our way.
Yorkshire is one of the best kept secrets in golf, declares Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire which is running the crusade. We have an historic association with the Ryder Cup as well as some of the best links and inland golf courses anywhere in the country. We are working in conjunction with our leading clubs to make Yorkshire a destination of choice for golfers the world over.
Its a sentiment echoed by Adam Frontal. Hes been breaking all records in recent weeks, becoming the first person to be crowned both Yorkshire Amateur Champion and Mid Amateur Champion in the same year. He then took the County Champion of Champions title thanks to three brilliant rounds at the home of English Golf, Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire.
You look at some of the courses Lindrick, Ganton, Moortown theyve all held the Ryder Cup. Theyve got to be good courses to do that, says Adam.
People like The R&A the UK governing body and the English Golf Union, they use the likes of Ganton to play Walker Cup matches, they use Moortown to play some of the England national events. The courses are already proven.
One good thing for Yorkshire is there are a lot more proprietary courses than there were 10 years ago. So the golfs there.
But people look at golfing holidays and just think, Ill go to the east coast, Ill go to the west coast. But Yorkshires got the Dales, areas of tourism, and theres no reason why people shouldnt include golf among its many attractions.
Yorkshire golf in general is in good nick, Adam believes. There are a lot of good juniors. I play for the Yorkshire team and thats predominantly young golfers 18 years and under. Theres Paul Lockwood, from over Hull way, and Matthew Fitzpatrick from Sheffield, hes only 15, hes already playing for the England boys team.
Fifteen was the age when Adam started playing golf, after caddying for twins Mark and Steve Pullan, two schoolmates who had a gift for the game. He turned professional and came within a whisker of qualifying for the European tour.
Later Adam managed Leeds Golf Centre before taking over Cookridge Hall Golf Club in the city five years ago. Hes overseen major improvements to Cookridge and is encouraging young talent with initiatives like the juniors club where children as young as six get the chance to play on a shorter course.
And hes still found time to become a triple champion at the age of 37, despite only playing once a week. People think because I run a golf club, thats all Im doing, he says. If you worked in a fish and chip shop would you have fish and chips for tea? The fact Ive got a golf club means playing a round is the last thing I want to do all day.
In its campaign, Welcome to Yorkshire will promote 10 of the countys signature courses as well as a selection of golf resorts. It is also working closely with the International Association of Golf Tour Operators to raise awareness of Yorkshire as a top golfing destination.
Adam is sure that the regions legendary canniness with money will help these efforts. People forget how many good courses out there that offer excellent value for money there are great courses offering 20 a round.
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We know there are would-be champions out there.
Where is it: in the Vale of Pickering between York and Scarborough
Hosted the Ryder Cup: 1949
Gary Player called Ganton the only inland course worthy of hosting the Open Championship, something it first did over a century ago. It retained its elite status into the modern era, hosting championships including the 2000 Curtis Cup and the 2003 Walker Cup.
The Ganton courses unforgiving nature is thanks to its original location on the rough ground of Sir Charles Legards Ganton Estate, combining undulating heathland with rugged features on the natural sandy subsoil of an ancient North Sea inlet.
Where is it: Lindrick Common, Worksop
Hosted the Ryder Cup: 1957
Lindrick only just qualifies as a Yorkshire club. The first course was laid out on Lindrick Common in 1891 by Sheffield and District Golf Club, which eventually became Lindrick Golf Club (Sheffield and District) hence the Yorkshire roots of a course that is actually just in Nottinghamshire.
Were happy to claim it as its a superb venue with an impressive history. In 1957 it hosted the first Ryder Cup victory by Britain & Ireland since 1929 and the last ever. Lindrick is currently an Open Qualifier.
Where is it: Harrogate Road (A61), Alwoodley
Hosted the Ryder Cup: 1929
Like nearby Alwoodley, Moortown Golf Club displays the hallmarks of its legendary architect Dr Alister MacKenzie, creator some of the most famous courses around the world. The beauty of the 175 acre woodland and moorland setting combines with the inspired Moortown finish to make this an unforgettable playing experience.
Rightly regarded as one of the UKs finest championship golf courses, Moortown staged the second ever Ryder Cup in 1929 acknowledgment of MacKenzies success in creating both ambience and challenge through bunkers and undulating greens reminiscent of coastal terrain.