Yorkshire Challenge: Beware of Moortown lulling you into a false sense of security

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MOORTOWN, along with Ganton and Lindrick, will stage the increasingly popular Yorkshire Challenge three-day event from September 6-8.

Peter Wilson, captain of Moortown last year, has been a member at the club for around 20 years and knows well the questions asked of the player by the 1929 Ryder Cup venue.

Moortown staged the first Ryder Cup match, in 1929.

Moortown staged the first Ryder Cup match, in 1929.

“One of the big challenges is the length,” he says. “We have a good few long holes where you need not only to get your drive away a good distance, but you need to be accurate with it as well.

“In the last few years we have taken an awful lot of trees out, which has reduced the number of hazards somewhat, but it does not appear to have made the course any easier.

“We are trying to regenerate heather and if you get in the heather you are in trouble.”

Wilson enjoys the solitude afforded by Moortown even though it sits so close to Leeds's city centre.

“Considering we are surrounded by houses and just three miles from the centre of Leeds, you would think you were in the middle of nowhere at times; it is a bit of an oasis,” he enthuses.

Moortown offers something of a honey trap at the first hole, a fairly straightforward par-5 that lower handicap golfers will see as an opportunity to get under par quickly.

“You have got a very benign start with the first, which is a relatively short par-5, so the bunkering has been improved in the past few years to make you think about where to put the ball,” says Wilson, “but it is a relatively easy start and can lull you into a false sense of security.

“You follow up immediately with a 450-yard par-4, which is usually into the wind. It is just a very, very difficult hole to make your par. Most people are happy if they get a bogey there.

“That is followed by a long par-4 when you have a very narrow drive to negotiate, so you go from a very easy start to two very tough holes. The course hits you more or less straight away.

“The first par-3 you have trouble everywhere. It is a 180-yard carry to get to the green and if you don't make it you are either in the ditch or in heather.

“If you have got a good medal card going you can't relax because every hole can catch you out.”

Moortown was designed by world famous architect Dr Alister MacKenzie, creator of Augusta.

“The 10th hole, a par-3, is the signature hole and it's the first one that Dr MacKenzie designed,” notes Wilson.

“He was asked by the founders to design a hole and was told if they liked it they were going to give him the contract. Of course he designed the 10th – known as Gibraltar because of its big sandy bunker - and he got the contract straight away.”

Playing a course created by the man who gave the world the Masters layout, and one which is steeped in so much history, including staging the first Ryder Cup on UK soil, is obviously a great privilege for its members.

But Wilson admits: “I think we probably do become a bit blasé about it being the first Ryder Cup venue and some people may take for granted the magnificent course we have got and the history behind it.

“But we do try to use it as a marketing tool and obviously the Yorkshire Challenge is all about the Ryder Cup.

“We could never have the Ryder Cup again because we don't have the infrastructure for everything that goes with it. But we are very lucky to play here week after week.”