Feature Review: Moor Allerton
Moor Allerton golf club, situated on the outskirts of Leeds, is a fine golf course in excellent condition, and a perfect fit for an area of the country that has a generous allocation of top quality courses. Located just off the M3, and easily accessible for central Leeds and many other northern cities, it is the perfect place for individuals, groups and especially societies to come and enjoy a round. Moor Allerton comprises three nine-hole loops, each with different characteristics, and each winding through pictorial countryside in a parkland/woodland hybrid.
Keeping your ball in play is the secret to scoring well at Moor Allerton, especially on the second nine-hole loop (10-18). The course is a decent length - especially from the blue and white tees - and there are scoring opportunities, but if you don't hit the ball straight, you will spend most of your round playing from the trees. There is a great variety of striking holes, though, ranging from sweeping, downhill doglegs from elevated tees to extremely narrow tree-lined par 5s littered with water. As with all courses, there are some relatively nondescript holes (especially on the third loop), but the good holes significantly outweigh the bad to create a very good all-round test of golfing aptitude.
The off course facilities are also excellent. There are numerous putting and chipping greens, a sizeable driving range, a fully stocked professional shop and spacious changing rooms. The clubhouse – featuring two large dining areas, a snooker room and a card room – serves excellent food, and the raised balcony, overlooking the 18th and 27th holes, is just a wonderful place to sit, have a drink and watch people finishing their rounds.
The par 3s at Moor Allerton are all challenging holes, and all play over 160 yards from the blue tees. What’s more, their stoke indexes aren’t necessarily proportional to their difficulty, making them an even tougher test.
The first par 3 on the second loop, the fourth, is a daunting short hole. It is only 155 yards on the card, but plays significantly uphill and into the wind. The tee shot is also made mentally harder by the valley between the tee box and the green, filled with what can only be described as cabbage. The green itself slopes heavily from back to front, any tee shot hit over the green presents a nigh on impossible up and down.
The eighth on the second loop is another excellent hole. The tee is beautifully manicured and framed by a wall, giving it a professional feel, and the hole itself is a good challenge. Tee shots again play uphill to a two-tiered green, and there is little to no bail out area. A large bunker protects the front of the green and trees, bushes and shrubbery encroach close in to the green. When the pin is on the front tier just over the bunker, it is extremely hard to get it close to the flag.
The par 4s on the course are extremely varied, ranging from tough, tree-lined holes to open, short holes that present legitimate opportunities for birdies. The par 4s on the third loop tend to be longer and more open than the second loop, but there are some very good holes on both nines.
The tenth hole in an exceptionally hard start for those beginning their rounds on the second loop. The tee shot is semi-blind and needs to be hit a long way if you harbour intentions of reaching the 430-yard hole in two. The hole moves right to left and downhill, with a bunker on the apex, and anything hit with fade will likely mean a lay-up. Anyone attempting to hit the large, sloping green in two will also have to clear a ditch some 50 yards short of the putting surface. Par is an excellent score here.
Par is also a good score on the third hole. Tee shots are played uphill to a fairway that starts to slope downhill around the 200 yard mark. Both sides of the fairway are framed by trees and heavy rough, and if you are forced to lay up, you only have a small area to aim for, as the left hand side of the fairway turns into rough and slopes left around 100 yards from the green. The entrance to the putting surface, which is very small and well protected, is also extremely narrow.
The best par 4 on the second loop is probably the 14th hole. Be sure to check the hole map before teeing off, as it swings 90 degrees right around the 200 yard mark. The longest hitters may want to refrain from hitting driver here, or hit an expansive fade that risks toying with the out of bounds right. After a good drive, a mid to long iron still remains to a well-protected green set slightly above the level of the fairway.
The par 5s at Moor Allerton are arguably the best feature of the course. There are some spectacular holes that are both challenging and enjoyable to play. The par 5s, in general, aren’t overly long, but demand good strategy and course management. Birdies are possible if you play shrewd golf, but double figures are also a distinct possibility on these expertly designed set of holes.
The seventh hole on the second loop is only 460 yards, but fraught with danger. As you stand on the tee, you realise there is nowhere to miss your tee shot, with trees right and left and an unsighted pond left. If you are lucky enough to find the fairway, your lay up has to negotiate another pond on the left hand side of the fairway. If you negotiate the second hurdle, you third must clear another body of water to reach the green, with a further pond lying in wait to catch any pulled approach. An exceptional golf hole.
The closing hole on the third loop is a stunning golf hole. Drives are hit from an elevated tee too to a fairway sloping significantly from right to left. At 550 yards, the hole is unreachable for the vast majority, and lay-ups must avoid three strategically placed bunkers. Third shots are daunting to say the least. They play uphill and over a substantial hazard, with trees left and very little margin for error right. What’s more, the green – which sits directly in front of the clubhouse - is sloping and raised, and protected in front by a gigantic bunker. One of the best finishing holes in the country.
Moor Allerton is an excellent venue that is extremely welcoming to visitors and societies alike. The course and the greens are in very good conditions and some of the holes (mostly on the second loop) are outstanding. I would give Moor Allerton an overall rating of 7/10.
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|Moor Allerton Golf Club
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