July 22, 2014
After playing at Royal Lytham & St Annes, I made the drive up to Yorkshire for my round the next day at Ganton Golf Club. I had never been to this part of England so was eager to see what it had to hold.
|The entrance sign at the end of the driveway.|
Golf was first played at Ganton GC in the summer of 1891 on a course laid out by Tom Chisholm of St. Andrews who had assistance from Robert Bird, the Club's first professional and head greenkeeper. In 1896, Harry Vardon signed on as the professional at the club and it was during his stay that he won the first three of his six Open Championships. It was also Ganton GC that he brought back the U.S. Championship Trophy in 1900. In conjunction with Ted Ray, also a Ganton Professional (1903 – 1912), James Braid, and J.H. Taylor, Vardon contributed to a major redesign of the course in 1905. Many other architects including Harry Colt (1907, 1911 & 1931), Dr Alister McKenzie (1912 & 1920), Tom Simpson (1934) and C.K. Cotton (1948 & 1952) have added to the continuing improvements over the last century and change.
It was Vardon's matches against J.H. Taylor in 1896 and Willie Park Jr. in 1899 that first brought Ganton G.C. to the notice of the golfing world. Since Vardon, Ganton G.C. has been the venue for matches and championships including the 1949 Ryder Cup, 2000 Curtis Cup and 2003 Walker Cup. Ganton G.C. has hosted a succession of major amateur and professional tournaments for men and women.
Ganton is a golf experience that harkens back to the foundations of the game. Aside from 150-yard markers, there are no yardage markers. Playing by feel, trying to judge the wind and distance by eye or from the distance measured by a bunker or a tree, is what you will experience at this course.
Like many other courses in northern England, Ganton G.C. has deep, penal, and large bunkers very similar to what I experienced at Woodhall Spa. The bunkers so deep that you need a ladder to climb in and out of them.
I didn't find the front nine particularly exciting, or even that difficult. I did, however, find the back nine, especially the final three or four holes, very fun and challenging to play. What I did find that I particularly enjoyed was the very old school feel of the clubhouse, locker room, staff, and course.
|The clubhouse at Ganton G.C.|
|The housing for the club's staff.|
After checking in at the pro shop, the head pro escorted me to the locker room and advised when I was ready, to let him know, and he would give me the tour. The locker room is relatively the same as one would have experienced it in 1930. The same lockers, same wood benches, and same everything (likely in the same places) instills a true sense of golfing history. They also have photos of every club pro dating back to the first pro, Harry Vardon.
|The gentlemen's locker room at Ganton G.C.|
|Photos of all the club pros look down upon you as you ready for a round at Ganton G.C.|
|A look down the fairway from the 1st tee box.|
|A look down the 1st fairway from just past the scrub brush.|
|The 150 yard markers are the only yardage markers you will find for each hole.|
|A look into the 1st green from 100 yards out.|
|A look at the left-side bunker.|
|A look at the right side bunker.|
|A look down the fairway from the 2nd tee box.|
|A look into the 2nd green from 160 yards out.|
|A look into the right side fairway bunker.|
|A look onto the 2nd green from 30 yards out.|
|A look at the left, green-side bunker|
Hole three is a 349 yard par 4. The tee shot is through a narrow gap of trees to a very wide fairway. Like number two, the green here is fairly flat. However, this one is guarded by numerous bunkers.
|A look into the 3rd green from 120 yards out.|
|A look onto the 3rd green from 30 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 4th tee box.|
|A look into the 4th green from 150 yards out.|
|A look onto the green from the 5th tee box.|
|A look onto the 5th green from just off the right side.|
|A look down the fairway from the 6th tee box.|
|A look into the 6th green from 120 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 7th tee box.|
|A look at the three bunkers located at the turn in the dogleg.|
|A look into the 7th green from 120 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 8th tee box.|
|A look into the 8th green from 100 yards out.|
The ninth hole is a 501 yard par 5 that is also a relatively straight hole from tee to green. There are a few bunkers around the two-tiered green but not much else noteworthy with this hole.
|A look into the 9th green from 200 yards out.|
|A look into the 9th green from 25 yards out.|
|A look into the green from the 10th tee box.|
|A look down the fairway from the 11th tee box.|
|A look into the 11th green from 130 yards out.|
|A look down the deep cross bunker at number 11.|
|A look down the fairway from the 12th tee box.|
|A look into the 12th green from 120 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 13th tee box.|
|A look into the 13th green from 100 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 14th tee box. The iconic church steeple can be seen in the background.|
|A look into the 14th green from 150 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 15th tee box.|
|A look into the 15th green from 75 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 16th tee box.|
|A look into the 16th green from 150 yards out.|
|A look into the g=16th green from 30 yards out.|
|A look into the green from the 17th tee box.|
|A look into the 17th green from 50 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 18th tee box.|
|A look at the 18th fairway after topping the hill.|
|A look into the 18th green from 110 yards out.|