I’ve driven up and down the M1 in South Yorkshire more times than I care to remember and I’ve often glanced to the countryside between junctions 35A & 36 and spied an interesting looking golf course with humps, bumps, slopes and climbs. In February 2019 I finally found myself on the other side of the hard shoulder staring back at the motorway from this entertaining golf course.
The original course was opened in 1907 and subsequently extended to eighteen holes in 1924 under the supervision of Arthur Storey. Unusually it was laid out on an area of redundant mining spoil and moorland. You can still find the remnants of the land’s industrial past with tens of huge barrow-like mounds, left behind in Georgian and Victorian times by bell pit miners digging for coal and ironstone, littering the course.
The club website states that “the relatively poor turf found atop these mounds struggles to gain a foothold in the slack and slag left behind by these pioneers of the Yorkshire coal and steel industry”.
However, what this inadvertently does do is produce a tight, mottled lie for your golf ball and whilst not sandy the ball will sit clean atop the turf and is a pleasure to hit from. This is true not just on the earthworks but on many of the fairways too.
The landscape is far from natural but the decades of weather have softened the mounds and they fit the landscape surprisingly well as the holes are routed through and, at times, over them.
There are many interesting holes and several changes in elevation as you roam across the moorland playing a wide variety of holes. The front-nine is played predominantly to the North of the property with the final five in a loop towards the South.
The lone par five comes at the fourth and is played to a semi-hidden green complex and is not dissimilar to the par-four seven which it crosses mid-fairway!
The trio of short holes are also very good with the devious ninth, played uphill to a fine two-tiered green with a steep drop to the left, being the standout.
Par for the curse is 70 with a top yardage of 6,244. On my visit in late winter most of the tees were forward but this didn’t detract from the playability and strategy of course and it was clear to see that there was something pleasingly different about Tankersley.
Copt Heath is a very fine parkland golf course that requires precision, plotting and a deft touch around the slick greens.
The Blue is a mix of American-style design and traditional English parkland. It's an unusual combination which makes the most of the terrain available. It was designed by Simon Gidman and opened in 1994.