Ripon revamp reaps rewards

A trip to Ripon, a club undergoing redevelopment on and off the course, is one Alan Hedley highly recommends

There are some gorgeous courses in North Yorkshire and Ripon City is right up there with the best of them.

At just over 6,000 yards, this 18-hole parkland course is set in a stunning landscape and can rightly claim to be one of the most improved courses in the North.

The club is more than halfway through a Swann Golf Designs redevelopment plan which includes new bunkering with exciting greens and challenging features. However, with generous fairways, it’s an ideal test for golfer of all abilities which is proven by its popularity with visitors and societies.

Ripon 16th fairwayAmong the attractions off the course is a splendid modern clubhouse with views of four greens, including the signature hole 14th. It has excellent facilities, a new chef and well-stocked golf shop run by new pro Craig Helliwell.

Unusually, Ripon opens with a short hole of around 150 yards with a pond on the left, followed by par four to a tiered green with a dry ditch short and then there’s a par five with a drive across a ravine and a sloping raised green.

Get the picture? It may look relatively easy, but it’s not. – you have to work for your score here.

The fourth offers some superb views as the fairway descends and then sweeps up to the green.

It also demands an accurate drive to avoid the trees and ravine while the raised green again makes club selection key.

The second par three marks the start of Ripon’s own Amen Corner with a tee shot over a deep ravine while tall trees line the hole.

The views at the next – the highest point on the course – are simply fantastic. If you avoid the oak tree on top of the ravine with your drive you’re faced by an approach to another sloping green protected three bunkers.

Stop to savour the scenery, especially from the next tee where there’s a beautiful view of Ripon Minster and the Ure valley, and then have a look at this par three with nearly a 100ft descent to a green which is difficult to read.

Ripon clubhouseThe front nine closes with two scoring chances, both short par fours – a welcome bit of a respite!

A classic dogleg starts the back nine and a driver may not be the best option as a pond sits to the right at around 220 yards but it is a driver at the 11th, a monster par four albeit with a wide fairway. It’s followed by a shorter, but arguably more challenging par four with a green beautifully framed by water to the left and bunker to the right.

The par five 13th is a good birdie chance but the green is well bunkered and the tee shot at the signature 14th is a highlight (see fact file).

Avoiding the deep bunkers at 15 and 16 – the latter is a nice driving hole – is key and 17 is another classic dogleg without any bunkers but there is a pond to the left of the green to avoid.

The 18th is a superb finishing hole – the fairway bunker left is in play and at the crest of the fairway the approach is picturesque to a green with water and bunkers protecting the two-tier green.