Selby Golf Club Review
Selby Golf Club, founded in 1907, is a charming par 71 heathland/parkland golf course situated in the mostly southerly point of North Yorkshire in-between Leeds, York and Doncaster (which are all around 15 miles away).
The course is sand-based and hence open all year round with excellent drainage and the club states it is very popular for winter golf too. My own visit at the end of November, after a particularly wet autumn, was an excellent test of this claim. And it certainly passed with flying colours!
I was lucky enough to play with Keith Houliston, the club captain, who provided a warm welcome and he claimed the course is in the best condition since he joined 28 years ago.
Like most golf clubs there is no on-site accommodation but there are a couple of lodges just outside and many local pubs in Selby providing reasonably priced accommodation for those looking to make a golf trip to the region.
The club has just completed a two-year bunker renovation program which commenced during the pandemic and was completed in January 2023 costing some £600,000. Previously Selby’s bunkers (like many) had stones in them. But now they all have rubber bases preventing any contamination and excellent drainage for all 55 bunkers.
Furthermore, careful consideration has been given to the sand choice and the club even gave the members the final say by filling the practice bunker with the two most popular types of sand and letting them choose. ‘China Clay,’ which is a grey angular sand, was chosen which is quarried on the south coast from a huge area - hence preserving a constant long-term supply.
The 700 full time members (which includes 130 women and 70 juniors) are lucky to have a fabulous course and an excellent 300 yard floodlit driving range (which conveniently accepts card payments) incorporating four covered bays and a natural grass are. It also boasts its own Selby PMG Golf Academy run by on-site professionals.
Interestingly 25% members have been there for less than five years so there has been a lot of recent demand and now there is a three-year waiting list for full membership (though there are still junior and women’s memberships available). The fact Selby GC still has a signing on fee shows it is clearly highly in demand.
To complete the pre-round experience there is a large practice putting green with a bunker too. What’s more, there are plans to build a short course (three short holes with six different tees) making it ideal for the junior academy or just a pre-match warm up.
There are also plans for some all-weather paths and potentially a whole new clubhouse. Already the clubhouse is excellent. It has certainly been extended over the years and provides a nice bar area overlooking the first tee, a fine dining restaurant overlooking the 18th green, and a snooker room with two championship standard tables (the likes of which I have only ever seen at Formby GC). I did not sample the food but those playing a society match are in for a treat as a new chef was hired in July (Marc Presswell) providing some incredible food judging by the photos on the website. I’d say this is a perfect venue for a golf society.
On course there is also a halfway house which opens on special days and weekends providing bacon rolls, pasties, etc.
Testimony to the club is that it runs a number of R&A and England Golf events and in 2024 will host the Northern Order of Merit Final for the Yorkshire golf clubs.
Typical green fees are £55 with a special four ball rate of £180.
Front 9 Overview
Walking to the first tee you cannot miss Selby's huge patio overlooking the 18th green and 15th tee with manicured flower beds which were noticeable in November. I can only imagine how picturesque this is when in full bloom. Perfect framing for a post round refreshment.
The 1st hole is a 422 yard par 4, stroke index 7 hole (NB all my yardages are from the yellow tees). This is relatively straight with a sloping fairway from right to left with out-of-bounds down the right and trees lining both sides. Arguably a tough tee shot to one of tightest fairways on the course. It is an attractive first hole and stepping off the tee I was immediately taken by the firm fairways even after all the rain we have had in November. The green is set below the height of the fairway and marks the start of a pleasantly undulating course ahead. The generous green slopes from back to front.
Then there’s a short walk through a variety of tree types to the 2nd tee which is surrounded by a lovely selection of bushes, including gorse, providing a nice variety of colours especially in the summer. I was relieved not to play off the white tee on this hole as that provides a particularly daunting tee shot over gorse and threading between overhanging trees.
The 2nd hole is a 508 yard par 5 and it is stroke index 5 with out-of-bounds all down the right again. A new bunker has been added on the left at around 230 yards. The fairway bends slowly to the right added to which it also slopes from left to right pushing you more towards the OOB. Attractive pine trees line the left side of the fairway and bunkers lie in wait short left and right again on this green set below the fairway level. This green has big slopes from left to right.
The 3rd hole is a 321 yard par 4, stroke index 13. This hole doglegs gently left to right and is a strategic hole, not overly difficult if you find the fairway. This should leave just a short iron to a very narrow green providing quite a tough approach. Driveable to the longer hitters but beware as again OOB awaits all down the right. The hole is set for some development work in order to accentuate the angle of the dogleg to ensure players aim well left away from the boundary hedge and prevent going OOB where some new retirement homes have been built. It is not one of the most difficult of holes but certainly requires some thought off the tee - which is beautifully manicured with nice wooden fencing and shrubbery around it.
The 4th hole is a 563 yard par 5, stroke index 1 making it the longest hole on the course. A very open fairway with a bunker waiting down the right-hand side that is well in range for many. This hole has a slight dogleg from left to right, which is bordered by trees and bracken. There is a wonderful crater in the middle of the fairway at around 270 yards providing some enormous undulations, which must gather many a tee shot, adding an interesting feature to this hole. An attractive bunker lies sunken on the right-hand side of the green, and another large bunker to the left which need to be avoided before tackling a wonderful large two-tiered green with a steep bank on the right.
The 5th hole is a 129 yard par 3, stroke index 15. This hole has an attractive fir tree to the left side of the tee and the raised green is surrounded by deep bunkers and features many tricky contours and it is one of the fastest on the course. There is plenty of room at the back of the green. Just beware the captain’s bunker short left.
The 6th hole is a 334 yard par 4, stroke index 9. This is one of the easiest par 4s on the course provided you miss the bunkers on the left of the fairway. Blocked from your view on the tee there is an incredible large tree on the right-hand side of the fairway. If your tee shot lands behind this there is no way through or under - it is an unusual tree which I have never seen before. You don’t want to be standing the wrong side of that for your approach shot. Another nice undulating green awaits, provided you miss the deep swale short right.
The 7th hole is a 454 yard par 4, stroke index 3 and one of the most demanding par 4s on the course. With the prevailing wind on your back it is downwind and straight and so reachable for the bigger hitters. Be warned in the summer this green is very fast (11-12 on the stimp metre).
The 8th is a 161 yard par 3, stroke index 17 which is again downwind. It’s an attractive short hole but don’t be fooled as it packs a punch with plenty of sand to guard its narrow, raised green which rises steeply from the front. So, if you miss there’s a tricky chip ahead.
The 9th hole is the signature hole on the course. It is a 323 yard par 4, stroke index 11. This hole is reachable for the longest drivers (the scratch league typically make it). This lovely looking hole is made by the five large bunkers (a couple were added in 2022) which lie at an angle across the fairway which is extremely appealing to the eye. Laying up short leaves just a wedge in but there are a lot of trees and gorse bushes on either side, so you need to be straight off the tee. Visitors beware, although the green is relatively flat it is quite difficult to read.
Finishing the 9th provides an option to return to the clubhouse or take advantage of the halfway house for some hot food (pasties, bacon rolls etc) and drinks.
Back 9 Overview
The 10th hole is a 157 yard par 3, stroke index 14. This hole appears relatively straightforward from the tee but there’s plenty of trouble to focus the mind. Firstly, you are hitting back into the prevailing wind. Then there’s a healthy number of bunkers to negotiate surrounding the green. To boot there is a large bank at the back which is to be avoided otherwise you are chipping to a steep green running away from you. Watch out for the thick rough all around, and the green is quick. Enjoy the challenge!
The 11th hole is a 365 yard par 4, stroke index 4, which has a slight dogleg to the left. It is the only hole which has a blind tee shot over the brow of a small hill in the fairway. The tee shot is made doubly challenging as the fairway target is very narrow between lot of trees and bracken and provides a challenge (but the fairway does widen after about 150 yards). If that’s not all, a narrow green awaits with hugely elevated bunkers, guarding left and right and there’s rough to add to the drama.
The 12th hole is a 336 yard par 4, stroke index 8. Slight dogleg to the left avoiding trees down the right. A new bunker has been added on top right of the dogleg which narrows the target from the tee. The green is elevated and deep. It slopes back to front and there are other big slopes to encounter adding to the difficulty.
The 13th hole is a 306 yard par 4, stroke index 16. A beautiful, raised tee area is a standout feature on this hole providing panoramic views of the surrounding area. In the distance the main view is the Drax power station which provides a really interesting sight. It was my favourite tee box with such an attractive view of the uphill fairway to the elevated green. Most golfers will aim left as there is out-of-bounds down the right. Beware bunkers lie on both sides of the fairway and heavy rough can cause you problems too. Beware the long two-tier green is very tight and close to the course boundary (and hence OOB). A super hole.
The 14th hole is a 497 yard par 5, stroke index 6. There is a lot of trouble either side of the narrow fairway, as you head uphill back towards the clubhouse again. The green is one of the most demanding on the course with a huge left to right swing making any chip tricky to get close. This hole provides an option to golfers with limited time for 14 holes as it finishes right by the clubhouse.
The 15th hole is a monster 203 yard par 3, stroke index 12 and unsurprisingly the hardest par 3 on the course. With the wind against (like on the 10th) many will be reaching for the driver. In some conditions this becomes a par 4. The club claims this is one of the hardest par 3s in Yorkshire as your tee shot must cover banks and bunkers to reach the short grass whilst avoiding a steep bank at the back like on 10.
The 16th hole is a 437 yard par 4, stroke index 2 and hence the second hardest hole on the course. Again, playing into the wind it can be more like a par 5 on some days. The fairway is very wide and provides a fantastic view downhill to a two-tier ‘MacKenzie style’ green. It is a tough hole but with a very visually appealing approach shot. The club captain celebrated his well fought par like it was a birdie, just going to show how tough this hole is - and he’s played it hundreds of times!
The 17th hole is a 159 yard par 3, stroke index 18. The hole is played uphill to a green surrounded by sand which needs to be covered. The green itself is probably the fastest and therefore hardest on the course. If you are putting downhill, like I was, it is tough to judge speed and alignment.
The 18th hole is a 512 yard par 5, stroke index 10. Slight dogleg to the right, with a nice wide fairway to aim for. There are plenty of trees lining this hole and the green is elevated and surrounded by bunkers providing a fantastic looking finishing hole with the clubhouse providing an amazing backdrop. It is a truly wonderful finishing hole, one of my personal favourites on the course.
I really liked the fact the design of the course is such that the 9th and 14th greens bring players back to the clubhouse, making it an ideal option for full or part rounds so you can flexibly fit your golf to the time you have available.
I spent some time post round with the general manager Chris Goodall. Quite uniquely he has been the GM for just one year but was the course manager/head greenkeeper for the previous decade. With the amount of recent development and the huge array of plans he has for the course; I think members and visitors are in for a treat for many years to come. There is no resting on any laurels at Selby GC and the amazing work done by its five greenkeepers.
For those considering a golf break there are lots of neighbouring golf courses to make up a fabulous trip. Most notably Fulford (30 minutes), Allwoodley (40 minutes), Moortown (40 minutes), and Ganton is just over an hour away from Selby. And Selby should definitely feature in any such plans for a regional golf holiday or just a day trip.
Finally, the story that really tickled me, and something I have never heard anywhere else, is the ‘Boozer’s loop.’ Some players post round, and perhaps after a few drinks on the patio, have been known to take on a three-club challenge starting on the 15th to complete the last four holes, to add a bit of comedy to a thoroughly enjoyable round. My only hope is there is a good taxi service home for them!
Overall Rating - 9
Course (Conditions) - 9
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 9
Course (Green Condition) - 9
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 8
Club Facilities & Clubhouse - 10
Practice Facilities - 10
Friendliness/Hospitality - 10
Pace of Play - 10
Value For Money - 10
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|Selby Golf Club
from 39 reviews