Wike Ridge Leeds the way

Dean Bailey plays a young course with great potential

There is something for every golfer around Leeds – from traditional English courses with championship pedigree to modern courses with the potential to join their illustrious neighbours.

With a little more than 20 years under its belt, Leeds Golf Centre’s Wike Ridge Course should fit perfectly into the second category.

With layouts ranging from 5,472 yards up to 6,536 yards this is a course for every player. As well as the championship course, there is two six-hole par-three loops, Footgolf (which attracts some 200 players every weekend) and the UK headquarters of the David Leadbetter Academy.

The fairways here are generous, as are the greens, each with bunkering and water strategically placed, while the rough is enough to make you think without needing a machete to hack through.

Opened in 1993, the Donald Steel design has undergone major changes since 2012. In conjunction with Jonathan Gaunt, bunkers have been revised and added, as has yardage, and some 1,400 trees transplanted.

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A generous course off the tee, tacticians will enjoy plotting their way through the bunkering and water hazards from tee to green while the big hitters will have to be creative should they miss the fairway. Far from the toughest course you’ll play in the area, Wike Ridge is one of those courses you would be very happy to play every day

The opening hole is a tricky par-four at 307 yards. Avoid the fairway bunker right at 225 yards and you’ll be left with a short pitch to a flat green guarded by two front bunkers.

Played from the yellows, the par five second is still 559 yards. From here the bunkers left are in range at 267 yards though a generous fairway awaits. Play left with your second shot as the fairway falls to the right leaving a difficult third shot with the two deep bunkers protecting your line to the green.

The third and fourth holes (385 and 391 yards) have well-placed fairway bunkers right. Play left at both holes to open up the greens; avoid the pot bunker short right at the third. Meanwhile the fourth is protected by a severely sloping green – putts up the hill are particularly tough.

The par-three fifth is second only to the sixth for signature hole with its views across the valley from the elevated tee. At 186 yards it plays roughly one club downhill with a large bunker short, and one left protecting the front flag.

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Signature hole
The short par-four sixth (333 yards). With views across the valley beyond the green and right, the lay up here is ideally over the right fairway bunker – a carry of 234 yards which leaves a pitch of 70-110 yards to the green. Two water hazards protect the fairway 50 yards beyond and the green sits above these with two distinct sections in the front left and back right.

One of the shorter par threes, the seventh is 144 yards played uphill and into the wind. A large bunker protects the left side of the green while the bunker right is small and tough to make up and down from. A steep ridge through the centre of the green makes club selection priority.

The only blind drive on the course, play left at the 443-yard eighth as out of bounds awaits right. The green here is generous and designed to accept an approach with a long iron.

The halfway house is in view from the ninth tee, as is the green 297 yards away. Keep your drive left to get a full view of the green, which is protected by bunkers right and left. The sensible shot here is to lay up to 70 yards, avoiding the bunker to the left of the fairway.

Caddy’s tip
Choose the right tees for you. The course can play long with back tees stretching to more than 6,500 yards and some of its longest holes playing into the wind. A trip to the Academy is also well worth it to loosen up

Wike3There are two options at the 10th – lay up with a long iron down the right of the fairway, which slopes to the left, or take a driver over the water – a carry of 250-275 yards. The green is big and you need to find the right portion to leave a good chance for birdie. The pot bunker at the back of the green is tough as it sits above the hole.

The 11th also offers a choice from the tee. At 313 yards it is a tempting prospect with the lay up cut off at 230 yards by a bunker. The bunker left of the green is surrounded by a hollow and will catch any drives left.

The 12th is the most visually intimidating hole on the course with water left and a fairway bunker right at 220 yards. The fairway here is more generous than it appears. Anything left on this hole is in trouble.

Played from another elevated tee and over a valley to the green, club selection is tough at the 13th. More than 180 yards away, the wide, narrow green is protected by two front bunkers.

A shot down the right side of 14 gives a better view of the layup area, which you will find by playing towards the single tree just left of the fairway bunker.

Although a short par-five at 478 yards, the 15th plays long with a 60 degree dogleg right.

One of the toughest holes on the course, the 16th is a par-three-and-a-half at 232 yards into the wind. The 17th feels longer than its 547 yards with a tee shot played uphill.

The final hole is a strong finish at 366 yards from the elevated tee. Drive as far down as you can to leave a short approach to the green over the lake. The back right pin here is toughest with two bunkers right – a strong finish and a tricky one with a good card in your pocket.

Dean Bailey’s verdict
A great course for every level of golfer and one which I would enjoy playing every day.