Dean Bailey heads to East Yorkshire and finds a stunning course with a fascinating history
Drive towards the town of Beverley in East Yorkshire, down a lot of motorways in my case, and as the grand Beverley Minster pierces the skyline in the distance you’ll reach the Westwood – an expanse of green to the west of the town where Beverley and East Riding Golf Club shares pastureland with the famous racecourse, and cows in the summer.
Laid out across the rolling moor, the course isn’t long by modern standards at 6,017 yards but its thick rough, ever-changing playing direction and the wind whipping across the Westwood can make it a tough test.
The rough, which grows deep in the summer, is managed by the cows for much of the season – the club owning just a portion of the expansive landscape, while the greens are ringed with wires to keep the cattle off them. The fences rarely come into play, our fourball struck the wire just once, and players have the option to replay the stroke without penalty or play their next from where the ball lies.
The first is a simple enough opener played slightly uphill. The line from the tee is the pylon in the distance – anything right of this will leave a tough approach to a small green over a deep bunker in the front right corner.
The second, a 462-yard par four, is a more difficult proposition with trees left of the fairway and a large, round green sitting below the fairway. The 574-yard par five third is a good birdie chance if you can avoid the deep bunker at the front left of the green, while the par three fourth is a tricky hole with a long iron to a thin green.
Though short at 327 yards, the fifth can be difficult with a drive over gorse bushes to a fairway which slopes left to right. Out of bounds waits left over the tan gallop – a remnant of horse training on the Westwood before the expansion of the racecourse.
Like many greens here, the slopes on the fifth and sixth – a downhill par three which came second on our picks for signature hole – are subtle and near-impossible to decipher early in the round.
Heading to the turn, you must reach the corner of the dogleg right at the long seventh to see the small green for the approach, while the par three eighth plays much longer than its 183 yards when the wind blows.
Reaching the turn, the tee shots at the ninth and 10th are both difficult – the first requiring a long drive up the hill. The fairway at the 10th falls left to right and anything hitting the right side risks falling down into the rough and leaving a tough shot over trees to the green.
At the 11th, take your line on the Minster if you’re laying up or the Black Mill if you’re trying to drive the green. Two bunkers protect the front of the green at this excellent risk and reward hole.
Difficult tee shots remain the theme through the back nine. The 12th plays uphill with a dogleg left and thick rough waiting for a hooked tee shot. The green sits through a narrow gap in bushes with a swale catching any short approach shots.
The 13th got our pick for signature hole (see fact file).
The closing stretch begins with the 376-yard 14th, a downhill par four flanked with trees and gorse – one of the most intimidating tee shots on the course. The par five 15th is a good birdie chance if you can thread your approach between the front bunkers, while the 16th is the toughest of the par threes – particularly when the flag is tucked behind the bunker at the front right of the green.
The 17th has a real links feel, with wind blowing across the swales and gorse which cover the fairway as you stand on the tee. Drive over these and you’re left with around 100 yards to a generous green. The 18th, back across the road and shortened to a par three over the years, is the simplest of the short holes at 144 yards. The large green features steep drops off and three bunkers should you miss the putting surface.
Contact Beverley and East Riding Golf Club, Anti Mill, Westwood, Beverley, East Yorkshire, HU17 8RG
Tel 01482 868 757
Green fees (until August 31, 2017)
Total distance White tees 6,017 yards
Yellow tees 5,696 yards
Red tees 5,260 yards
Features Large clubhouse and dining room
Locker room and changing facilities
Professional’s shop and tuition
Indoor swing studio
Caddy’s tip Being in the right position in the fairway is key – attacking the green from the correct side is often more important than being closer to it.
Signature hole The 343-yard 13th plays uphill from a raised tee box and you must avoid the gorse bushes right of the fairway. The second shot plays a club longer than the yardage because of the slope to a green protected by a deep bunker at the front right. Many will play past the flag to avoid it – leaving a tricky downhill putt.
Our Verdict A stunning landscape, with a high quality golf course laid out across it. You have to experience golf and the history here