Paul Simpson’s hole-by-hole guide to Baildon GC near Bradford, a hidden gem with several claims to fame.
Paul Simpson’s hole-by-hole guide to Baildon:
1st – par 4: The first hole looks innocuous enough, a straight drive over around 30 yards of heather, a recurring feature on this course, to a generous fairway and a short to mid-iron to the green. But beware, this is where Baildon can get you, luring you in with a false sense of security. If you don’t allow for the wind which will often blow across the fairway and if you haven’t warmed up your swing you could find yourself in either the stream running up the left or in dense moorland rough to the right, which frequently requires recovery with a lofted club.
2nd – par 3: The signature hole on the course and with good reason. This par 3 finds you perched atop a cliff with a former quarry below and the prospect of your tee shot having to find a green positioned on a plateau with steep banks down to the right and behind. The sensible golfer ensures that he keeps his ball left but go too far left and you are out of bounds.
3rd – par 4: Once you have recovered from the spectacular previous hole you are challenged with the stroke index 1, par 4 3rd. The hole doglegs to the left and if you are brave enough to carry thick rough with a draw you will be rewarded with a short iron into the elevated green. The safe play is to ‘lay up’ to around 150 yards but if you don’t get your club selection right you can quickly run out of fairway and find yourself looking for your ball in the heather.
4th – par 4 A chance to take stock and begin to enjoy views of farmland and wooded valleys… that is until you have to take your tee shot. Often played into the wind and uphill the green looks a long way, positioned in the lee of a hill. The wide fairway invites you to let rip but once again this is a deception, if your drive is anything less than straight your ball will be quickly eaten up by the moorland rough and unless you are fortunate enough to find a good lie you will find yourself taking at least another two shots to find the green.
5th – par 4: Requiring a climb to the summit of the moors, it is vital to get your tee shot airborne as quickly as possible to carry the rough and find a generous landing area before facing a blind approach to a green flanked by grass bunkers. The gradient of the hole is such that during periods of snow it is often used for sledging and even skiing.
6th – par 3: Here, you are greeted with the first bunkers on the course which threaten any tee shots travelling left or right of the green on this tricky par 3. From the tee it doesn’t look a particularly daunting prospect until you realise that you are at the highest point of the course and must account for the wind which can pick up at a moment’s notice. When played from the competition tees the hole takes on a different aspect entirely as you are challenged with negotiating your ball either over or around the left hand bunker.
7th – par 4: From the tee you can begin your first descent of the day and the panoramic aspect changes to open farmland. It is at this stage that you begin to realise that you are being consistently provided with scenery that is worth the green fee alone . The fairway of this par 4 slopes from left to right and if you have a tendency to fade the ball you will find yourself with the prospect of a shot from the rough, which is fairly light in comparison to the rest of the course, and over a bunker but if you overshoot the green there is a perilous slope at the back.
8th – par 4: Another par 4 begins a loop of three holes and requires a downhill drive to a dog-leg left to right fairway and on to a green protected by bunkers to the right. It is probably the most scenic hole on the course. Go right and there is dense heather, go left and there is thick moorland scrub, but once you reach the green surrounded by bracken, you feel that you could have the entire moors to yourself such is the air of peace and tranquillity.
9th – par 4: Plays longer than that its yardage as you drive into the prevailing wind to an undulating fairway which is intersected by a hummock of rough to capture those foolish enough to try and hit the ball as far as they can muster. The hole can give you the true links feel as you may think you’ve got a good drive away but anything which takes the right side of the fairway can catch an unfortunate bounce into the rough and any approach shots to the right of the green can be swallowed by a deep grass bunker.
10th – par 3: There is a chance to reflect and take in the peace of this quiet corner of the course upon some conveniently positioned glacial debris before facing this par 3. The carry to the green is 80% heather and is guarded by a bunker to the front right, but if you try to avoid the bunker and miss the green, better go left than long as thick rough awaits only a few yards off the back.
11th – par 4: Following the 10th you climb to an elevated position before teeing to a fairway below you which is guarded by a ditch and out of bounds to the right and rough to the left. The approach to the green on this par 4 hole is blind as it is hidden away at the bottom of a steep slope which provides you with the option of going for the pin and trying to stop the ball on the narrow putting surface or attempting a chip and run down the slope. The hole is played completely differently from the competition tees as it becomes a right to left dogleg with your drive required to negotiate the rough and out of bounds area.
12th – par 4: Requires an uphill, blind tee shot with a guide post positioned on the brow of the hill to show you the way. A good drive is needed to reach the green in two but it’s also protected by a couple of bunkers front right and if you venture too far left of the guide post a ditch awaits.
13th – par 4: A real risk/reward hole. Played from an elevated tee this par 4 is reachable with a drive but should only be taken on if you are on your game as the carry is all over deep rough and the front of the green is protected by a ditch.
14th – par 4: You begin your climb back to the summit of the course on the 14th. The fairway is wide and inviting and is used for longest drive competitions but you must be careful of a ditch running along the right-hand side of the fairway. Your approach is a tricky one, steeply uphill to an elevated two-tier green and with the wind behind you and rough beyond the green, club selection is vital.
15th – par 4: The walk from the 14th green to the 15th tee brings into focus once again your spectacular surroundings with the distant horizon gradually revealing itself as you approach the tee. The tee shot is a tricky one, downhill to a fairway which slopes steeply from right to left and if you accommodate the slope too much you can end up over the road and out of bounds. There is nothing for you if you go left except for deep
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