Golf Course Review of Pannal Golf Club
Pannal Golf Course
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: One of Yorkshire's finest courses
Our 5 Star Rating: 4.0
Pannal is undoubtedly one of Yorkshire's finest.
It offers a beautiful tranquil mix of woodland, moorland and heathland on the edge of Harrogate in North Yorkshire.
Always presented in excellent condition it's a golf course that I always look forward to testing my golfing skills over.
Although most of the course is on high ground, and therefore more exposed to the elements, you do not get that feeling during your round. The reason for this is the towering trees, many of which are pine, that adorn most of the fairways.
On my most recent visit in October 2015 the course was in fine condition and the greens were particularly good for the time of year.
Pannal is certainly a good looking course, with well defined fairways and attractive green settings, but once you get under the bonnet you will also find 18 very good and sound golf holes. That much is apparent from the off with a perfect opening hole where although the fairway is generous it does narrow at driving distance. This means the longer you are, the straighter you must be. Of course you can hit a fairway wood off the tee or an iron but that leaves you a much longer second shot.
The next is also an inviting hole that climbs uphill and to the left culminating in a green sat high in the corner of the course. A group of very tall trees on the left hand side of the fairway mean that you must err on the right to have the best angle of attack into the green. The third is a short par three with a row of small bunkers on the left that seem to draw your ball towards them like a magnet whilst the fourth is a fabulous par five with a fade required off the tee and an extra 30 yards on offer if you manage to catch the downslope. A left-to-right shot is also favourable for your approach which must negotiate mounding and bunkers to find the sloping green.
The last of the holes on the 'low ground' is the fifth which, similar to the second, dog-legs right to left. Gorse must be avoided on the right off the tee and a bank of prickly shrubbery waits for anything leaked right with the second shot.
The course changes character a little after the fifth with a series of par fours taking you to the turn, the sixth being the best thanks to its green sat close to an out-of-bounds wall. Previously this hole has always had a frightening blind drive to reach the higher part of the course but on my last visit I played from a raised tee which opened the hole up visually and although made it easier the aesthetics were much improved.
The tenth is a cute downhill par three before you play the first of three par fives on the back-nine. None of the trio is particularly long but all play slightly uphill and run in the same direction. The 11th is an S-shaped hole whilst 13 and 16 are similar in nature with trees on the right the main concern if going for the green in two.
Elsewhere on the inward half you will enjoy the strong 12th, downhill 14th and 200 yard 15th. The 17th is the signature hole at Pannal and it is a belter of a par three. Played over a ravine, to a green perched on a side-shelf, with out-of-bounds left, bunkers short and a huge drop-off to the right. The green is actually much larger than it appears from the tee but you will likely be going in with a long iron or hybrid club so only a well-struck shot will find the putting surface.
I would class the downhill par four 18th as a tricky, rather than demanding, closing hole. An approach from the left is favoured but you must flirt with the boundary of the course to find this area and anything leaked right will find trees, rough or possibly even a small pond. The green is defended by a bunker either side plus a severe slope at the back and right of the green. A good tee-shot will set up a birdie chance but the hole is not a guaranteed par.
On the whole the greens are quite flat. Of course there are subtle borrows but you won't find many swinging putts here. The seventh has a small raised portion at the back right, the ninth has an interesting shallow swale running through it and the 11th has a small step but if the pins weren't cut close to those you might miss them. The second and fourth can also be quite slippery but generally you can have a run at your putts at Pannal.
Get the ball on the fairway and you will have the chance to score well at Pannal. Most of the trouble is off the tee and although the greens are reasonably well-bunkered they are large and usually hold the ball well allowing aggressive play.
The Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs class Pannal worthy of hosting their County Championship, the North of England Amateur Strokeplay Championship was held here 2013-2015 and the R&A deem it fit for staging their Regional Open Championship Qualifying.
That's pretty much all you need to know to establish that this is indeed a top quality golf course.
Club Website: www.pannalgc.co.uk
Tournaments: Open golf competitions at Pannal Golf Club.
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