MOOR THE MERRIER
It might not be the biggest in Britain, but Ben Rhydding Golf Course has got to be one of the most beautiful. Ahead of another busy summer, we reveal how the family-friendly club is offering great deals to attract more members.
Stretching 300 yards and with a difficult, sharp righthand bend, the signature hole at Ben Rhydding Golf Club is known as the Khyber. While it might not be quite as treacherous as the mountainous pass in Afghanistan with which it shares its name, even seasoned golfers have struggled on this tricky par four.
But it’s not the only challenging thing about this picturesque course which lies just outside Ilkley, in the lee of the moor’s famous Cow and Calf rocks.
Running and maintaining a golf club of such beauty takes money and a steady flow of members treading the fairways each year, something BRGC are always striving to increase.
Talking about its appeal, Club Captain Chris Cheetham said: “While there is no shortage of great golf clubs in the area, I don’t think there can be any better location to play golf on a summer’s evening in Yorkshire, than at Ben Rhydding.
“Flanked by the moors and the Cow and Calf and perfectly positioned to enjoying the breathtaking views down the valley towards the Dales, it’s one of the most inspirational settings to really test yourself as a golfer and lose yourself in the beauty of God’s Own Country.
“With just nine holes, it is the perfect place to take up golf and we’re a friendly bunch who’d love to show you around. Every Wednesday evening in the summer we hold a night of social golf where non-members can come up and play by themselves or with members and get to know the course at a reduced fee.”
The history of the club dates back to 1885 when it was part of a colossal Victorian hydro hotel which sprung up amidst the popularity of Ilkley as a spa town.
As the boom in spa tourism died down towards the end of the 19th century, the owners of the Ben Rhydding Hydro built a golf course as an alternative attraction, and by 1900 the hotel’s name had been changed to the Ben Rhydding Golf Hotel.
Following World War II, the hotel fell into ruin and was demolished in 1955 but happily the golf course remained, and new houses sprung up beneath it in the 1960s, many built with the stones of the demolished hotel.
The nine-hole, 18 tee, 65 par course is testing – the course record is only 62 – but while the competition may often be fierce, the atmosphere is always friendly.
“Whether you have been playing for years or are thinking of giving golf a go for the first time, we welcome everyone,” adds Chris “And if you don’t want to sign up to a full membership, visitors can come on a pay as you go basis.”