An Alister MacKenzie gem with a great set of par 3's

Sand Moor

Sand Moor Golf Club

Date Reviewed
August 11, 2015
Reviewed by Ed Battye
Sand Moor Golf Club, located in the golfing-haven of North Leeds, was developed under the guidance of the famed Dr. Alister MacKenzie in the mid 1920s.

Situated close to two other famous MacKenzie courses, Alwoodley and Moortown, this venue also boasts many of the Good Doctor’s trademarks and has a particularly strong set of short holes.

A major change to the course took place in the late 1960s when the first two and last two holes were lost and land to the west of the original course was purchased for three new holes. A fourth hole was also then created between the current 12th and 14th.

A few years ago The Club began a project to update the course, to stay abreast of modern day equipment but remain loyal to the original design concept, and the fruits of this labour are now starting to reap its rewards.

I recently played here in the annual 36-hole scratch competition, The Sand Moor Masters, and after a personal absence of a few years it was pleasing to see the changes that have been made. And whilst the course may no longer be suitable for hosting top European Tour events (the last one here was won by Nick Faldo in 1983) it remains a true test for all levels of the amateur game.

In my opinion the aforementioned 13th, the present second and third holes (also added in the 1960s) along with the 18th are the only real blots on Sand Moor’s very impressive landscape. These holes are not necessarily poor but they don’t quite fit in with the rest of the course and seem a little forced on the terrain rather than maximising the undulating property that the other holes do to such great effect.

The collection of par-three’s often get the plaudits at Sand Moor and rightly so because they are all superb. The only minor criticism is that they all tend to play a similar yardage and the severest danger on them all is to the left. However, individually they are things of beauty and a real joy to play. The angle of the greens, the borrows of the putting surfaces and the visually striking bunkering all add up to create wonderful golf holes. In my view the clearance of many trees around the holes would make the contouring and features of each hole stand out even more and take them to the next level.

Other holes of note are the first, an inviting par five with dramatic greenside bunkering, the sixth, a demanding two-shotter that sweeps to the right, and the seventh, played from below to a raised green. The fifth is also a cunning hole which at only 358 yards tempts the bigger hitters to get as close as possible but get out position and the steeply sloping green makes getting back on track extremely difficult. On the inward half the 11th is a wonderful hole with new fairway bunkering adding some real strategy whilst the 14th requires you to be long and straight.

There are a lot of good things going on during the round at Sand Moor and you are required to be able to play a number of different shots; sometimes you can open your shoulders with the driver whilst at other times placement is crucial. The greens have the perfect amount of slope and keep it interesting until you have holed out.

The condition of the course was excellent throughout; the greens ran true and the fairways were a delight to play from; excellent firm and sandy turf. The plush clubhouse is also a splendid place to spend a couple of hours after your round.

Sand Moor is definitely heading in the right direction and an essential play if you are planning a golfing trip to Leeds.

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