Course review: Oakdale

The Fabulous Oakdale in Harrogate, designed by Dr Alistair MacKenzie, co-creator of Augusta National...

Martin Park
Tue, 30 May 2000

Course review: Oakdale

Oakdale Golf Cub
Oakdale
Harrogate
HG1 2LN

Professional: Clive Dell
Tel 01423 560510 Pro Shop

Dr Alistair MacKenzie was the co-designer of the World famous Augusta National Golf club, home to the Masters each year. But before he set his sights on the Fruitlands nursery, where Bobby Jones wanted to build the most perfect course of them all, he was a canny Scot plying his trade around Yorkshire initially.

Among his more famous creations on the UK were Moortown, Ryder Cup venue in 1929, Cypress Point on the Monterrey Peninsula, neighbour of this years US Open venue, Pebble Beach and he was consulting architect to the R&A at St Andrews.

But one of his early, and more unknown courses in Yorkshire is Oakdale, a fantastic course on the outskirts of Harrogate complementing his other 400 courses he designed and laid out around the world.

Oakdale has been around since 1914, where membership was a paltry 25 shillings, today however, it is slightly more expensive, but they have never lost the warmth of welcome or the character of this MacKenzie layout.

Oakdale has superb views from hilly terrain and an abundance of flowers to add the splash of colour, akin to Augusta itself.

The 6,456 yard course meanders through the parkland terrain and there is not one hole on the course anyone can describe as boring.

Even from the first, a straightaway par four of 333-yards has it requirements to hit two good shots to set up birdie. And all the way around, you will find many chances come to those who play the course how the Doctor designed them.

In true MacKenzie fashion, his mantra was that no hazard is an unfair hazard, anywhere on the course. And at Oakdale, if you are in one, you have played a poor shot to be there, tough! But the key to getting it all right on the day here is to hit your irons well and don't be too greedy on the par fives!

At the first look on the scorecard, you may be forgiven for thinking that they are all short and can be reached in two. They can…but when the wind is up, they all take on brutish characters and many bogies result!

Pick of the holes are the 7th. Downhill, to a green well protected by bunkers. Only two good shots will give you a birdie putt. Anything else and you are in the trees or down the hill over the back.

The 9th is a cracker of a par three with the "Beck" (a water hazard, or stream to us Southerners!)coming into play just short of the putting surface. Pick the right club or your ball will suffer the fate of a watery grave.

The tenth at 401-yards is perhaps the best par-four on the course. The tee is perched precariously high on the hill around the corner from the narrow and undulating fairway, only an tee shot out of the top drawer will help you make four here. Left of the fairway is the "beck" and dense woodland, right is a slope full of deep primary rough, and to top it all off, the green sits between mature trees and a pot bunker Houdini would have trouble escaping from. A gem of a hole.

The back nine is full of surprises with the 12th, a magnificent par three over water with four bunkers guarding the wayward shot.

But perhaps the best holes are the last two. The 17th is perhaps one of the most frustrating Par fives on the planet, The yardage suggests that it is an eagle opportunity at only 483 from the Yellow tees, but the double dogleg tells it's own story. Only the perfect drive in the right rough will give a view to the huge undulating green, and if you do have a lie, you might think twice about having a crack at it. There is out of bounds to the left and dense trees to the right. Make a five and walk on the to finest finishing hole in Yorkshire.

The 18th is a perfect matchplay hole. If you are one down needing a birdie to level the match, or all square with lots of cash depending on the outcome, the 18th at Oakdale will test your bottle.

Only 306 yards separates you from tee to pin and all the winnings, or a watery grave with the "Beck" (that stream again!) coming into play just in front of the green.

The choice is yours, hit the drive of your life downwind, or take an iron and lay up to hopefully win with a four! Do you take it on or bottle it? Up to you!

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