2018 Greencard Golf Tour Review Harrogate & North Yorkshire
This was our second visit to this wonderful part of the UK. Not only is Harrogate a great place to stay and visit, but the area is home to some superb golf courses. Our itinerary included rounds on courses packed with history – Sandmoor, Pannal, Moortown and Alwoodley.
We stayed at the recently refurbished West Park Hotel. This contemporary boutique hotel, part of the award-winning Provence Inns group, has been transformed from the original Victorian coach house into 25 spacious and luxurious room and suites, a fantastic restaurant and bar area, plus an exterior courtyard perfect for al fresco dining and drinking. The high level of accommodation, friendly staff and proximity to the town centre, with its large selection of restaurants and bars made this a truly excellent venue.
Thankfully the temperatures had fallen a little following the recent heatwave across the UK, which made playing conditions more pleasant. There was a threat of rain at the end of the week but nothing too dramatic.
Raybone and Fielding Share Early Lead
The Alistair Mckenzie designed Sand Moor golf course was the venue for our opening round. The club was founded in 1926, nineteen years after Alwoodley. However, a major change to the course took place in the late 1960’s when four new holes were created under the watchful eye of Henry Cotton. In recent times many improvements have been made including a complete refurbishment of the clubhouse.
Phil Raybone and Reuben Fielding made the early move with superb rounds of 37 points. The previous champion from our last visit to these parts, Glyn Pepper and Pauline Crosthwaite both carded 36 points. Debutant, Bill Sutton was just one further back on 35.
Marshall Finds His Form
The second round was played at Pannal Golf Club. This beautiful course is located in stunning woodland and heathland, whilst enjoying outstanding views of Harrogate and the surrounding areas. It is recognised by the R&A as an Open qualifier venue and in July 2015 co-hosted the English Amateur Championship.
Tony Marshall found his form here and after shooting 33 in first round, carded a very impressive 39. Kevin Pepper shot an excellent 38 points, whilst Neil McGarva and Glenn Harris both finished the round with 37. Ian Robinson started to make his move with a solid 36 points.
At the half way stage Tony Marshall on 72 points had a one shot advantage over Phil Raybone. Kevin Pepper and Pauline Crosthwate were both just three off the lead. Neil McGarva was one shot further back. Meanwhile, Glenn Harris, Bill Sutton and Reuben Fielding were still very much in the hunt, all having 67 points. Ian Robinson and Tim Elliott made up the top ten, both with 65.
Pep Goes Back To Basics
Moortown was the venue for our third round. This is a classic moorland golf course and another design from Alistair McKenzie. Opening in 1910, shortly after Alwoodley the course it has held many prestigious events in the past including the 1929 Ryder Cup. Moortown is a great place to play golf, all the holes offer a great deal of variety in look and feel.
After struggling in the previous round, Glynn Pepper once again put the driver away and rediscovered his form using the usual 2 iron off the tee. His 21 points on the front nine was backed up with 17 on the back and his 38 would prove to be the leading score of the day. Neil McGarva, seeking his second win of the year shot a solid 36. Maggie Lowe and Marian Raybone both came home with 35 and Glenn Harris, who had remembered to pack his 3 wood on this occasion, was just one back with 34.
With one round to go, Neil McGarva had taken the lead on 104. Phil Raybone and Tony Marshall were just one behind on 103 after scoring 32 and 31 points respectively at Moortown. Glynn Pepper and Glenn Harris were both on 101 whilst Pauline Crosthwaite was just two shots further back.
Sutton Charges Up The Leaderboard but is it enough…
The final round was held at the superb Alwoodley Golf Club. Designed by Alistair McKenzie and Harry Colt in 1907 this stunning heathland course is ranked in the top 20 in England. It has been used as a Regional Qualifier for the Open. Clearly inspired by his work here McKenzie went on to design the great Augusta National, home of the Masters. The course is a combination of heathland and moorland with beautifully manicured fairways. If you miss the fairways, there is plenty of heather and gorse, which supplies the backdrop to this special course.
As previously mentioned there was a threat of rain towards the end of the week and unfortunately it did materialise. However, it came in the form of showers rather than persistent rain and so we did play a significant part of the round in the dry. That said the wind started to pick up as the day went on which made scoring tough.
Bill Sutton who had started the week well had a strong finish by carding the day’s best score of 36 points. The next best score was 31, which indicated how conditions were affecting the scoring. At the front Glynn Pepper had enjoyed a flying start with two birdies in the first three holes. At the turn he had 21 points and with Neil McGarva making 18, he had caught the leader. Phil Raybone had 17 at the half way mark whilst Tony Marshall and Glenn Harris were finding it difficult with 15 and 13 respectively.
Reuben Fielding shot the second best score of the day with 31. This was followed by a host of players on 30 including Caroline Walker, Neil Marr, Stuart Munday, Pauline Crosthwaite and Kevin Pepper. These scores ensured that Kevin Pepper finished in seventh place on 128 and Pauline Crosthwaite took the position of leading lady and sixth overall on 129.
Everybody was finding it hard work on the back nine. Even Glynn’s 2 iron had deserted him as he struggled to find a fairway off the tee. As a result he finished the round with 30 points and his valiant efforts at regaining the Harrogate title faded. He eventually finished in fourth position on a total of 131.
Tony Marshall shot 14 on the back and his 29 points would confirm a third place finish overall on 132. Phil Raybone’s challenge fell away on the final nine holes, his last round of 27 was not enough to take the win and he eventually finished in fifth place on 130. Although Glenn Harris did not enjoy his best day on the course his 25 in the final round ensured a top 10 finish.
As Neil McGarva putted out all that remained to see was whether he had scored sufficient points to hold off the charge seen earlier from Bill Sutton. In the end his 31 points gave him an overall total of 135 and victory by just two points.
Our congratulations to Neil McGarva on his fine win. This was an excellent week and the area of Harrogate is fast becoming one of Greencard’s favourites. We will return here in the future for what I am sure will be another very enjoyable event.
2018 Greencard Golf Tour Harrogate & North Yorkshire Final Leaderboard
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