Huddersfield Golf Club Feature Review
Review by Andy Waple
Known colloquially to many as “Fixby” after the old hall that became its splendid clubhouse, Huddersfield Golf Club has a glorious setting, lots of open space and a course that has hosted many well-known amateur and professional competitions.
For several years it was the venue for the Lawrence Batley Seniors' Tournament organised by the PGA. The Ladies' Golf Union and English Ladies’ Golf Association have used the course for national and international events and Fixby has hosted many Yorkshire Championships, the Brabazon Qualifying, and in 2014 the Seniors Ladies' Home Internationals.
Well regarded in Yorkshire golfing circles, its quality deserves to be recognised further afield. The word is now spreading and upgrades to the greens and more recently the bunkers have confirmed this course’s ranking as one of the county’s finest.
Over the years some top names in course design have influenced the course’s characteristics, including Herbert Fowler, whose work in the 1930s largely shaped the layout that remains today.
I had played and enjoyed this course on several occasions so my interest was stirred when I heard that in the summer top golf course architects Swan Golf Designs completed a five-year project to bring a consistent look to the bunkering which had become a bit of weakness. Like at many clubs, Huddersfield had been troubled by rainwater run off from the top of the bunker faces which had contaminated the sand and blocked drains making for inconsistent playability and time consuming, costly maintenance.
Swan dug out some old aerial photographs showing Fowler’s original bunker concepts which became the inspiration for the renovations.
After two years of planning and three years of construction the all-new bunkering was ready for play this summer and the club once more has those traditional, slightly ragged style of the bunkers that were present in the 1920s and 30s. Modern technology has improved drainage and the remodeling should prevent the return of contaminated sand for years to come. Some bunkers have been resited for strategic purposes and their number reduced from 63 to 49 to aid maintenance.
Front 9 Overview
The panoramic view from the 1st tee shows what this course and club is all about. Behind you is the long sweeping driveway that leads to the majestic Fixby Hall, and ahead lies the open vista of several holes framed on all sides by tall mature trees.
The first hole, a slight left dogleg, has a generous fairway containing the first of the restored bunkers. It is a lovely opener, though it’s not easy to make par due to the length of the hole and the undulating green.
There follows a series a tricky holes including the 3rd, a long par five toughened by the repositioning of the greenside bunker to short left of the green. Apparently the long hitters at the club where initially miffed with this modification as it has made the hole much more difficult to reach in two and a different strategy is required from the tee.
There follows a testing par three, and the intimidating stroke index 1 par 5 5th hole featuring OB on the right. OB continues on the 6th which has one of the trickier greens. The dog leg 7th runs back down the hill to a long, narrowish green.
Back 9 Overview
The back 9 includes a somewhat different landscape and some equally testing holes. After the 10th running up hill – the weakest hole in my opinion – there is a pretty par three before the course really shows its teeth on the 12th, 13th 14th and 15th, all a challenge for a variety of reasons.
The 18th I feel is a disappointing driving hole – all uphill to a ridge – but once on top there is a magnificent view of the hole below terminating with a large undulating green surrounded by mature trees.
Post Round Thoughts
Huddersfield GC has clearly spent a lot of time and money on improving the course in recent years and members and the board should feel proud of themselves. They have brought this venue up to a very high standard and the modern techniques employed both on the greens and bunkers have produced the desired results without taking away the heritage of a very fine traditional English inland course. And rest assured, the reduction in the number of bunkers has not made this course any easier to navigate – if anything the subtle reshaping and some resiting has in fact made it more of an interesting challenge. We played most recently in pouring rain and they showed no sign of retaining water.
William Swan, Swan Golf Design’s managing director, best summed things up when he said: “Our work has taken away the modern appearance created by remodeling of the bunkers over the years and now the great history of the club has been put back onto the course.”
With news greens in 2002 and now a successfully completed bunker project this course needs to be on any golfer’s radar. Catering is exceptional in terms of quality of food and service.
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