The Takeaway: Alister MacKenzie's original design doesn't disappoint in any way and inspiration for his more famous courses can be found throughout. Often overshadowed by the big Open Championship courses in the UK, Alwoodley is an underrated delight. Grade A
Designer: Alister MacKenzie 1907
Cost: £75 - £150 Click for current rates
Phone Number: +44 113 268 1680
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Alwoodley Golf Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - Wigton Ln, Leeds, LS17 8SA – UNITED KINGDOM
What to Expect: Owning the distinction of being the first course designed by Dr. Alister MacKenzie, Alwoodley is a gem that is laid across the moorlands north of Leeds and stands as one of the finest interior courses in England. The course has great subtleties throughout with gentle movements in the fairways and greens that provide intrigue each time a loop is made. Players familiar with Crystal Downs, Augusta National, and Cypress Point will find clear similarities in the enchanting routing and inspiration that was used for his more famous future designs. The 8th and 9th feel like something you'd experience on the front nine at Cypress or back nine at Crystal, while the 10th is famously the inspiration for one of the most highly regarded par fives in the world; the 13th at Augusta. That stretch of the course enjoys the greatest amount of terrain movement at Alwoodley though the unique 17th and inspiring 18th provide some enjoyable downhill shots and views. Scoring needs to be accomplished on the outward nine with the inward holes proving to be the more difficult test; particularly the challenging final six holes. I'd classify Alwoodley as an "everyday" course, meaning, you can enjoy it everyday without growing weary of it. There is enough to challenge you, but not too many features that unduly punish you, and you have an excellent chance of playing the same ball throughout the round. As is common with most courses in the UK, players will be required to walk but can rent a trolley to help tote their clubs around.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 10th Hole – 528 Yard Par 5 – The hole that lays claim as the inspiration to one of the most famous par fives in the world, the 10th at Alwoodley was the precursor to the 13th at Augusta National and is an exhilarating ride. The tee shot plays uphill between the trees to a fairway that bends left and out of view. As players crest the hill at the midway point of the fairway they are presented with an inspiring downhill approach shot to a green flanked on each side with bunkers. The big drop in the fairway to the putting surface helps the shot play 1-2 clubs less and gives most players the chance to at least chase one onto the green down the generous slope. It is an excellent risk/reward tee shot with balls turning over to the left presenting a shorter trip to the green and an increased chance of carding a birdie. While the 13th at Augusta features a creek fronting the green, the 10th at Alwoodley is devoid of a liquid hazard which should give all players the green light in being aggressive with their attack. This hole is just a blast and I instantly wanted to turn around and play it again after my first run at it.
Best Par 3: 9th Hole – 235 Yards – One of my favorite inland par threes in the U.K., the 9th at Alwoodley plays long and back to a green fronted by heather, flanked by sand, and set next to a forest in the back. There is no escaping the fact that you have to step up and hit a quality golf shot here if you want a chance at taming this beast, though there is a bailout area offered short and right for those feeling faint of heart. The entrance in front of the green is inviting, an iconic MacKenzie feature, so if you need to bring a shot in low and hot you can work a ball back to the flag. The stretch of holes from 8 - 10 is nothing short of top shelf and an incredible way to transition from the front to the back nine.
Best Par 4: 17th Hole – 435 Yards – The hole that you either love or hate at Alwoodley, the 17th is memorable from tee to green. The tee shot plays over a road to a fairway that drives towards the trees before bending right and downhill out of view. The approach shot plays downhill to a green that can be out of view depending on where your tee shot lands, which is why a 12 foot flag marks the hole location to give players an aiming point. The faith-requiring approach shot gives players a sense of anticipation as they approach the green anxious to see where their ball finished in relation to the hole. Unique, fun, and memorable for sure.
Best Par 5: 8th Hole – 591 Yards – The opening hole of Alwoodley's finest three hole stretch, the par five 8th asks players to hug the left side of the fairway along the tree line in order to take some of the yardage off this nearly 600 yard offering. As the fairway bends to the left it also begins to tumble down the hill helping the hole play shorter than the yardage found on the card. In classic fashion the sides of the green feature bunkers while the entrance to the putting surface is open and inviting; a reward to those displaying accuracy with their approach shot. The ideal shot shape is a baby fade that starts at the left edge of the green and works its way off the greenside bunker and towards the center of the putting surface. Reaching this green in two takes a pair of very well struck shots, but playing conservatively can still be rewarded with a look at birdie on this back to front sloping green.
Birdie Time: 2nd Hole – 305 Yard Par 4 – Hopefully you warmed up before your round, because the Good Doctor offers a wonderful opportunity to card a birdie on just the 2nd hole of the day. A big drive plays uphill to a wide and inviting fairway that should give players confidence with the big stick. A good drive leaves a short chip into the green that has two bunkers in front but no protection on the sides or rear. Any pin beyond the front third should be attacked aggressively, especially with a scoring club in your hand.
Bogey Beware: 18th Hole – 484 Yard Par 4 – The final hole at MacKenzie's first design stands as its biggest challenge. Tipping out just shy of 500 yards, this two-shotter requires a pair of strong shots to reach in regulation. A series of bunkers line each side of the hole enroute to the green that features the club iconic clubhouse on the right side. The left side of the hole features a tree line the whole way while the right side features gnarly rough that all but guarantees no chance of reaching the green in two. Alister wants you to maintain focus and stamina all the way to the end of the round; this hole will test it.