Golf Course Review of Halifax Golf Club
Halifax Golf Course
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: A true underrated hidden gem
Our 5 Star Rating: 4.1
The Halifax Golf Club, often better known as Ogden, is a course that divides opinion.
Some people love this fascinating James Braid layout whilst others hate it... and a few even vow never to return!
I'm most certainly in the former category and really enjoy golfing at this moorland gem of very high quality.
If you are looking for a flat, easy-walking, manicured parkland golf course and are not willing to accept the odd unfavourable bounce or raggedy lie then this is probably not going to be your cup of (Yorkshire) tea. But if you want a thrill-seeking, natural course that requires you to use every club in the bag and play some rousing golf holes then you will enjoy your round at Halifax Golf Club immensely.
The weather is often unfavourable at this elevated and exposed venue (and that it is what often deters the fickle from returning) but although high on the moors much of the course sits in a basin and tends to have its own micro-climate - sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse!
A recent visit here was in April 2014 and whilst the weather was calm and dry on the day it followed a period of heavy rain and the course didn't play as hard and fast as it does when it's at its usual best. My most recent game here was in August 2015 and the course played fast and firm as normal.
It's not an easy walking course and when I say that the vast majority of holes are slightly uphill, or on the flat, you may wonder how that is! Basically, the first 10 holes work their way out from the clubhouse up to the farthest point of the course, but still visible from the clubhouse, the 11th turns at right angles but continues to climb whilst holes 12 through 16 are perched on a shelf high above the rest of the course. The signature hole at Ogden, a par three of medium length, is then played from the plateau to a green at the bottom of the valley, which must be well over one hundred feet below! It's a cracking hole where club selection is virtually impossible and you're never sure you've hit a good shot until the ball lands. The 18th, a hole that shares its fairway with the first, then returns (uphill again) to the clubhouse.
The 17th is such a unique hole and is often the main talking point when discussing Ogden which in many ways is a real shame because that dilutes the other 17 holes, several of which are phenomenal, especially the ones earlier in the round with hints of quirk at every corner.
As with most moorland courses there are many elements of seaside links golf here and therefore the wind can play a huge factor in the way the course plays. The course is not long with a new set of 'blue' tees, enhancing the course significantly, stretching it to just over 6,300 yards. However, there are a few holes with a restricted lay-up which means it tends to play longer into the greens than you may initially think.
Ogden has a strong start with very little opportunity to pick shots up in the opening five holes. The first is a wonderful hole (played either as a par five or par four depending upon the tees used) with a green angled to the fairway and a hazard running across and down the right towards the green. Indeed, the streams that run throughout the lower part of the course come into play during most of the first 11 holes. The wondrous green at the first is probably the most severe on the course and being under the hole is imperative.
After the second, a short par three to a plateau green, you must cross two hazards to reach the semi-blind third green before arguably the best hole on the course. The fourth turns us round 180 degrees and shares a fairway with the third and has a choice from the tee - play longer down the left to leave a shorter but more difficult shot to the green or hit to the right for an approach down the green but from further back. I favour a drive down the left but either way you are always happy to find this side-shelf green that sits perfectly into the moorland across the other side of a deep ravine. The fourth is a truly great golf hole although it has taken me dozens of plays to appreciate and understand it.
The round continues with the daunting fifth, water hazards everywhere, before a series of excellent holes where trouble awaits for anything offline but where good shots are rewarded with birdie opportunities. The drive at the 10th is a real highlight where you can choose to bite off as much of the ravine as you choose. The 12th can be played as a very good par three or a very poor par four.
You are now on the high ground and two par fives, sandwiching a par three, allow the opportunity to improve your scorecard before the excellent sweeping 16th and the afore mentioned final two holes.
Aside from the architectural merits of the course the views and wildlife at Ogden are also exceptional and add to the unique landscape.
It's undoubtedly a course for the purist but I'm yet to play a better moorland course and it is those who are put off by the elements and severities that are missing out.
Club Website: www.halifaxgolfclub.co.uk
Tournaments: Open golf competitions at Halifax Golf Club.
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