Yorkshire Challenge: Ganton saves its toughest questions for the final four holes

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WILL MACKAY, Ganton's captain last year, says members take great pride in it having staged Walker Cup and Curtis Cup contests as well as the 1949 Ryder Cup.

But equally as welcome for them are the constant acknowledgements they receive of the quality of the course as it is today.

The USA Ryder Cup team with the trophy at Ganton in 1949.

The USA Ryder Cup team with the trophy at Ganton in 1949.

“So many people come off the course saying what a great pleasure it was to have played it,” says Mackay, in his 12th year as a Ganton member. “There is something special about the place.

“It is obviously one of the top courses in the country, in a lovely setting, and I'm looking forward to the Yorkshire Challenge. It is well supported and the club enjoy seeing the visitors and having them spread its reputation further.”

Past Yorkshire Challenge competitors will be aware of the tests awaiting them on a course where gorse and deep bunkers can lead to an escalating score.

“It is an old lady just waiting to grab the unwary shot or the overzealous player,” says Mackay.

“There are five bunkers on the first, for instance, only three of which you can see off the tee, and from there on it does get tough - it is a championship golf course.”

Masham's Dan Brown won the English amateur championship held over the course last August when competitors went off the toughest of four sets of tees.

“We have had many major championships on it, but it handles all levels of golf because of the number of tee positions,” continues Mackay.

“It is a real challenge off the blue tees, but obviously the other factor that we have is the weather. A breeze blows probably most days, but if it gets up to a stiff wind it is really tough. You have got to be able to play all the shots.

“Some courses if you get your drive away you will be playing a fairly short shot into the greens, but with ours you have got to be on the right side of the fairway to get to the right side of the green to get at the flags.

“The course is well bunkered - about 115 bunkers approximately – and these bunkers are not just two feet deep; some of them can be six feet deep or more and it is a challenge.”

Yorkshire Challenge competitors making their bow on the course should take particular note of the Ganton captain's pronouncement about the closing four holes.

“An examination of the scores over the last 10 years showed that the stroke index of them should be one, two, three, four, but obviously you can't do that. But the last four holes are that tough it would justify doing so.”

The 'old lady' is visually spectacular and Mackay adds: “It is a lovely setting, wonderful views.

“I live two minutes from a local golf course where I used to be a member, but I still travel for an hour to Ganton every time I want to play. People say 'why are you going all that way?' and I say 'have you played Ganton?' and if they say no I say 'if you do you might understand why'.

“There is something special about the place. It's friendly, it's challenging, but if you haven't got your 'A game' with you then you can still knock it round all right - but it is a good test.

“As well as staging the Ryder Cup, the Walker Cup and the Curtis Cup, going right back both Harry Vardon and Ted Ray were professionals at Ganton when they were in their heyday, so it has a long tradition and is full of history.

“As members we respect the course and the club and its reputation and the thing we have to do is keep it up to the standard because people come from everywhere to play it.”