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Sean_A

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More Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« on: September 15, 2015, 12:53:26 PM »
Thoughts of the 1929 Ryder Cup are rarely absent when visiting Moortown!




This nearly lifesize photo of Samuel Ryder presenting his Cup to GB&I Captain George Duncan hangs in the foyer. 


It is a little recognized fact that Yorkshire is the site of the first and last pure British and Irish Ryder Cup victories.  The home side was successful at Moortown in 1929 and Lindrick in 1957.  Sandwiched between these victories was a Hogan led team which came from behind to win the 1948 matches in a war ravished England.  It is also little known that Alwoodley turned down the invitation to host the 1933 Ryder Cup which was a squeaker win for Britain at Southport and Ainsdale.  The Ryder Cup Matches have a long and cherished history and no club celebrates this legacy in quite the same manner as Moortown.  The entrance drive, hall and Dining Room are given over to the historic 1929 Matches.  It is also fitting that the creator of Moortown is memorialized in the MacKenzie Bar. 

More concentrated and single designer focused than the 3 Ws, it wasn’t all that long ago that four courses designed by Dr MacKenzie were in close proximity (one could easily walk the distances to the front gates with clubs in tow) just north of Leeds.  In 1970 Moor Allerton sold its land for housing and moved further north and now plays over a Robert Trent-Jones Senior course.  Moortown, Alwoodley and Sand Moor remain on their original plots.  All three courses have been altered somewhat, but Moortown and Sand Moor did so to accommodate the ever increasing growth of Leeds.  However, Moortown remains overwhelmingly a Dr MacKenzie design. In recent years the club engaged Ken Moodie to work on the course. The original idea was to rebuild two greens, but the job eventually turned into a complete bunker restoration project incorporating new bunkering for three holes built in the 1980s and some added bunkers here and there to test flat bellies. 

While many know much about MacKenzie, it is worth noting his meteoric rise in golf.  From humble beginnings as a founding member of Alwoodley in 1907 to designing an iconic course (Alwoodley) in the same year and a host course of the Ryder Cup in 1909 (after using Gibraltar as a means to recruit members) to winning the Country Life Lido Prize in 1914 and becoming an R&A member by 1915 is remarkable by any standard.  Even with this sort of talent and resume, few would have predicted the even greater accomplishments MacKenzie would achieve before his death in 1934. 

While hosting the 1929 Ryder Cup is undoubtedly Moortown’s feather in the cap, the club has been the venue for many high level professional and amateur events.  Many will remember the Car Care tour event in the mid-80s.  The 1984 event was notably won by Nick Faldo at +2 for the week.  Well prior to the development of the European Tour, Moortown hosted the prestigious Yorkshire Evening News Professional Tournament on 19 occasions.  The year of the 1929 Ryder Cup was won by American Joe Turnesa.  Major amateur events too are well represented at Moortown with five Brabazon Trophies (the most recent in 2009) and a scattering of English Amateurs.  Suffice it to say that Moortown has remained relevant as a championship venue and the recent work will ensure this trend continues. 

Moortown greets the golfer in a gentlemanly manner.  There is no bothersome unpleasantness with strictly straight requirements on the first. This three-shotter can be reached in two, but par is a fine start to the game. 




Measuring an uphill 440 yards from the daily tee, the 2nd is all most golfers can handle.  The ditch crossing the fairway considerably increases the difficulty.  The green too runs hard from the open right side.  This is the first of six 400+ yards holes which on windy day are all testing.


The third is a pretty par 4, but not terribly memorable.  The short 4th plays over swampy ground and while difficult is probably Moortown's least memorable par 3.  The fifth is the only shortish two-shotter on a course which could desperately use more of this type to create some variety in the 4s.  Without question, the inclusion of only one hole in the yardage range between the longest par 3 at 170 yards and the second shortest par 4 of 363 yards is the single biggest weakness of Moortown.  There is a lot of potential for excellent golf in that 200 yard gap. Unfortunately, due to trees on the dogleg, an otherwise excellent hole is somewhat spoiled.   


Two holes built in the late1980s follow.  The drive on #6 is obscured, but there is plenty of space to play...much of it down the left which brings trees into play.  Although, many trees have been cleared to great effect and a new bunker was added on the left.  The fairway zig zags abruptly around the trees to a somewhat domed green leaning left. 




More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: May 31, 2022, 02:32:00 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Sean_A

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC 1-9
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2015, 01:51:41 PM »
MOORTOWN TOUR CONT

The long 7th moves left around water.  I think the bunkering is new and I have to wonder why there is sand on the corner next to water.  Its not a combination of hazards I think necessary or desirable.


The false fronted 8th is a lovely hole.  I am taken by the new forward tees (that is forward of the ladies tees); I believe they are called the Centenary Tees. 


Looking back to the tee. Many of the greens are quite interesting, featuring slopes and some contouring.


The final hole on the side legs right over water then heads uphill to a fairly open green.  I believe there are fully eight holes with water.  Its not an ideal situation, but likely a necessary evil for drainage.   


Once near the green it is most difficult not to look ahead to Gibraltar. 




More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 04, 2021, 10:38:13 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Sean_A

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC 1-9
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2015, 06:58:43 AM »
MOORTOWN CONT

Looking at the sketch, I wonder if the tee hasn't been altered to straighten the hole.


MacKenzie claimed to have never seen or heard of the Redan at North Berwick before constructing Gibraltar. Considering the visual differences of the two holes this revelation isn't surprising.  Quite famously, it is said MacKenzie negotiated with the club to build one public relations hole to lure new members to the club and thus raise the capital to build a course.  If ever there was a hole which could be used to recruit members, Gibraltar is it.  Built on a rocky slope, the use of the terrain is a masterclass in design.




Tee shots will swing in from the right and it is best to stay below the hole.




11-14 are back n' forth holes going up and down a modest rise in the land providing enough elevation change to create blind drives at 11 and 13.  The 11th features a rather grandiose bunker which is quite true to the Good Doctor's work.


The long 12th is quite reachable in two, but a large and blind approach will likely be required.  The furthest right bunker is the very same as on 11.


Excellent fairway bunkering drastically reduces the chances of flat bellies blasting drives to within sight of the green.


In firm conditions, the green can still be had with an accurate strike.  To the right is a more fanciful MacKenzie bunkering...rather reminds me of Whistling Straits...ahem.  This bunker was meant to have been made from dredged stones...I believe the same is true of the highlighted bunker on #11.






The green slopes strongly toward the rear. 


The renovated Dr Mac bunker on 13. 


The 14th heads downhill along the course boundary to a corner of the property.  The rear of the green has a very interesting wee plateau.  In fact, most of the greens make sense in that they run away from hazards and/or have interesting, if subtle features.  I believe this hole was considerably shortened and a par 3 in this area of the property was lost, both alterations were for safety reasons. 

More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: February 19, 2021, 11:36:03 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Sean_A

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC 1-14
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2015, 05:35:20 AM »
MOORTOWN TOUR CONT

The landscape suggests ample space, but in fact, the drive on the 15th requires a fairly precise strike.  I think this visual confusion is caused by a combination of trees well away from the hazards and relatively small, non-prominent bunkers. This setting reminds me of Woking except for the odd fairway line down the left.  I am fairly certain the fairway has been taken in on the left, perhaps in an effort to create a more defined dogleg. Given his predilection for deceipt and temptation, I am not sure Dr Mac would have approved. 


The green too is deceptive.  The forward bunker disguises the severe back to front slope.  Unfortunately, this photo also highlights the odd cut lines.  I am sure Dr Mac would have envisioned the fairway spreading wide of the bunkers.




Another visually disconcerting hole, the 16th has ample room well to the right which is in the form of light rough.  The club has cut back the longer grass leaving an area for shorter hitters to work their way around the tree, but I wonder if this shouldn't be fairway shared with the 2nd. In any case the water is reachable off the tee so many will choose to lay-up...leaving a longer approach than most would be comfortable with on this 400 yard par 4.  I usually don't like water cutting across fairways at this distance nor trees blocking a section of the fairway, but this hole impresses me...perhaps because two pet peeves were violated.


The hole is named King's Bridge due to an interesting event. This is the very same Sam King who was the long-time pro at Knole Park GC in Kent and secured GB&I's only point during the 1947 Ryder Cup matches in Portland.


A very good short hole, completing a sound set of par 3s, 17's green is a bit more complex than most at Moortown.




With so much good golf behind us it is too much to think that the 18th could be one of the best holes on the course.  Yet, the 18th is a corker only spoiled somewhat by the gorse at the rear of the green.


This is a reasonably lengthy two-shotter and golfers will have to contend with sand to have a go at the green in two.  The shot sets up for a left to right approach, but often the wind is off the right. 


Once again a forward bunker blocks the view of the available space. This is a clever tactic not only to reward the player who has stayed left off the tee, but the space also allows for firm conditions. 


I must say that Moortown is better than my expectations allowed...even after the second round.  Without a dud in the pack, there are many standout holes spread throughout a very handsome property.  The 2nd, 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 15, 16th and 18th spring to mind.  While Moortown is certainly challenging as +1 for this year's Open Qualifying can attest, it also remains a fun course to play in no small measure due to its width.  Moortown is much more than the course next door to Alwoodley and is well worth the effort of a visit.  2016

Ciao   
« Last Edit: February 19, 2021, 11:36:52 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Thomas Dai

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2015, 12:14:47 PM »
Thanks for sharing Sean, looks distinctly nice. From the photos of the 13th I go along with your Whistling Straights comparison. I wonder long they'll be there?


Out of interest, what would the prevailing wind be on the famous Gibraltar hole?


Atb
« Last Edit: September 26, 2015, 06:39:15 AM by Thomas Dai »

Ash Towe

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2015, 01:15:19 AM »
Sean,
Thanks once again for the course tour.


It is a highly regarded course, often it is preferred to Alwoodley for people in the Leeds area.  This is usually because of the outstanding course condititions found at Moortown.

Adam Lawrence

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2015, 03:34:53 AM »
Sean,
Thanks once again for the course tour.

It is a highly regarded course, often it is preferred to Alwoodley for people in the Leeds area.


Only by fools :)


I like Moortown very much but it's a clear step below Alwoodley IMO.
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

James Boon

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2015, 04:33:56 AM »
Sean,


Thanks for the tour.


Did they host the Ryder Cup? They didn't mention it much?  ???   ;D


Interesting to see how the bunker work has finished up. When I played 5 years ago it was still underway, as can be seen from some of the pics in my tour (on a misty cold day so not as good pics as yours!) but worth scrolling down to post #17 for the Whistling Straits bunker on 12 under construction!
http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,46708.0.html


A worthy neighbour to Alwoodley, but not quite as good I'd say.


Cheers,


James

2022 Highlights: Hollinwell (Notts), Brora, Reay

"It celebrates the unadulterated pleasure of being in a dialogue with nature while knocking a ball round on foot." Richard Pennell

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2015, 06:20:47 AM »
 Thank for the report Sean.

 
The final course of the BUDA in Leeds played in a biblical rainstorm. The heaviest rain I've ever played through reached its peak when Mark B and I both made it onto the Gibraltar green in two, lying 15' below the hole. A n inch deep stream of water was flowing down  the green towards us. I offered a good/good and was accepted. Mark hit his putt just for fun and negotiated the tide correctly for a 3! Despite trying very hard I couldn't get my putt half way to the hole.

 
It's not entirely clear to me which of these downhill holes featured an Island Green that day, The 12th?

 

 
Later I dried my wallet on the hotel radiator and next day the credit cards were so bowed they wouldn't go through the hotels payment machine.

 

 
Suffice to say I need to get back.
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridelondon-tonymuldoon

Niall C

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2015, 07:13:47 AM »
Tony

If you ever do decide to go back let me know and I'll join you. A fantastic looking course.

Sean

Many thanks for another wonderful tour.

Niall

Paul Gray

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2015, 08:29:22 AM »
As excellent as ever, Sean. Many thanks. Moortown is on the 'if I ever end up in Yorkshire again' list.
In the places where golf cuts through pretension and elitism, it thrives and will continue to thrive because the simple virtues of the game and its attendant culture are allowed to be most apparent. - Tim Gavrich

Sean_A

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2015, 07:02:16 AM »
ATB

I think the prevailing wind on Gibraltar should be off the right or perhaps quartering from the right. 

Boonie

Yes, Moortown looks quite different today compared to your pix.  The bunkering, tree and veg removal has been a great success imo.  Now...if they could tackle the gorse behind 18.  I realize there are some safety concerns, but jeepers...this is a Dr Mac course for crying out loud.  Slap some bunkers bunkers back there just like he would have  ;)

I agree with others here, Alwoodley is the better course, but not by a huge margin. It would be interesting to see a matchplay analysis.  That said, Moortown has the clear edge in playability which is not small beer. Alwoodley is losing its way with the rough/heather.  Its a fine course somewhat spoiled right now...not too different from Ganton in this respect. 

Bottom line for me, I would pay to return for another game at Moortown.

Ciao

« Last Edit: September 28, 2015, 05:32:44 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Jon Wiggett

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2015, 03:53:12 AM »
Sean,

you are correct about the short hole into the corner. The green for what is now 13? used to be a little further back if I am correct and then there was a solid mid length par 3 into the corner. This was followed by a great par 4 that followed the curve of the boundary and was very similar, though not quite as good as the old 12th (NLE) at Lindrick. The 17th was a short par 4 tight on the boundary which has now been changed to the par 3 you see today.

It has been sometime since I played Moortown and I see I should get back to it.

Jon

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2015, 04:41:10 AM »
Played it in 2011 part way through bunker renovation and enjoyed it far more than I expected.

Alwoodley is right up there with my favourite inland courses but Moortown is not that far behind. That is high praise.

Jim Nugent

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2015, 08:06:36 AM »
In "Golf Architecture," Dr. Mac says, "on Alwoodley and Moortown practically every green and every hummock has been artificially made, and yet it is difficult to convince the stranger that this is so. I remember a chairman of the Green Committee of one of the best-known clubs in the North telling me that it would be impossible to make their course anything like Alwoodley, as there we had such a wealth of natural hillocks, hollows, and undulations. It was only with great difficulty that I was able to persuade him that, to use an Irishism, these natural features which he so much admired had all been artificially created."

Can you guys tell where the landscape is natural, and where Mackenzie created it at these courses? 




Sean_A

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2015, 08:26:35 AM »
Jon

Losing the short 4 17th sounds like a huge blow to the design.  My biggest gripe about Moortown is that there is only one hole in the 175ish to 350ish range.  Too many par 4s are crushed in the 390 to 430 range.  To my way of thinking, there are great opportunities for really cool holes especially in the 240 to 325 range. 

Jim

A load of features begin in the rough and some stay there.  Also, the greens are more obviously man-made, but again, that isn't a bad thing...not imo anyway.

If you look at the old pic of Gib, you can see that there has obviously been a flattened area between the bunkers provided for a reasonable kick up.  The bunkering actually fits into the landscape quite well...because it stems from the rough.  Its when guys try proper fairway bunkering that things go astray a bit.  And of course, Dr Mac did some of those nutty Whistling Straits bunkers housed in mounds which don't look remotely natural...its even dubious if they look okay.   

The obviously man-made bunkers in the rough on 11 and 13 may have served a dual purpose of providing a marker as to where the fairway is for the blind drives. You can just see the bunker on #11, but I don't think 13 can be seen from the tee.  Perhaps it could be at one time. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 01, 2018, 09:53:30 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Adam Lawrence

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2015, 09:05:09 AM »
The obviously man-made bunkers in the rough on 11 and 13 may have served a dual purpose of providing a marker as to where the fairway is for the blind drives. You can just see the bunker on #11, but I don't think 13 can be seen from the tee.  Perhaps it could be at one time. 



Ken Moodie told me that mound and bunker are made up of rocks cleared from the fairway area during construction.
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Sean_A

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2015, 05:44:45 AM »
The obviously man-made bunkers in the rough on 11 and 13 may have served a dual purpose of providing a marker as to where the fairway is for the blind drives. You can just see the bunker on #11, but I don't think 13 can be seen from the tee.  Perhaps it could be at one time. 



Ken Moodie told me that mound and bunker are made up of rocks cleared from the fairway area during construction.


Makes sense Adam.  The bunker does just pop out of the ground, but not as much as the bunkering on #12! I am not sure how Dr Mac could ever think a bunker job like that could look natural...a very deluded man.


Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Jim Nugent

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2015, 06:29:16 AM »
In "Golf Architecture," Dr. Mac has a photo of one of those bunkers, with the caption: "Artificial hummock at Moortown, constructed from stones removed from the fairway."


Sean_A

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2015, 07:30:21 AM »


We can see from the map circa mid 1930s that in fact, the 13th (original 11th) was the same as now.  What has changed is the 14th...combining a 4 and a 3...with the loss of the 12th and 14th, both par 3s.  The new 6 & 7 are in the area marked as Trees, Stream.  I think this work was in the late 80s. 


What I do find strange is that 17 looks to be a par 4 on this map.  A 1913 Yorkshire Evening Post News description of the hole is as a 160 yard par 3 of great merit featuring a 63 yard long green. I thought it was changed from a par 4 to the current par 3.  Has this hole been altered twice?


I can't quite get my head around where this photo was taken from, but it appears the huge bunker on #12 is in the background.  This offers some scale on the feature and how it stands out from the surrounding landscape.



Ciao
« Last Edit: September 29, 2015, 08:18:45 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Jon Wiggett

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #20 on: September 29, 2015, 05:14:48 PM »
Sean,

I think that photo is on the old par 3 14th (NLE). The bunker on the 12th has two people stood on top of it.

Jon

Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2015, 05:29:53 PM »
Thanks Sean.  I played Moortown the day after I played Alwoodley. While the terrain is not as interesting, the shot values are demanding and varied. It is a pretty wonderful thing to have those two clubs so near each other.
Tom Williamsen
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

Jon Wiggett

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2015, 06:51:37 PM »
Tommy,

though not quite on the same level Sandmoor is worth a play as well. At one time it's 1st, 2nd, 17th & 18th were between Moortown's 16th & 17th and the road. It sold the land for development but unfortunately the replacement holes are not of the same quality as the remaining original 14 holes. It does have an exceptionally good set of par threes and fives with a scattering of great par 4s.

If we remember that Moorallerton which was also very highly regarded used to border Moortown and that Scarcroft GC which borders Alwoodley is no slouch I think there is good reason to say that up until 1970 Leeds had the best golf in such a small area any where in the world.

Jon

Wayne_Kozun

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #23 on: September 30, 2015, 06:58:06 AM »
I was just in Leeds for the RWC but didn't have the chance to play golf but I hope to come back and play Moortown and Alwoodley. There were tons of Canadians and Americans (not to mention Scots) in town last weekend as both nations played matches at Elland Road [size=78%]- I wonder if the clubs saw lots of visitors?[/size]

Sean_A

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Re: Marvelous MOORTOWN GC
« Reply #24 on: October 01, 2015, 07:52:48 PM »
Jon


Yes, that must be it...the non-existant 14th green...very early to finish a match  :D


Wayne...all the way to Leeds to watch rugger...and no golf...incredulous.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

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