GGD was appointed in 2011 by The Parklane Group, a Leeds-based property developer of apartments and hotels in Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle, to undertake a full review of the 18-hole Wike Ridge course (originally designed by Donald Steel) and to put together a masterplan to upgrade all of the facilities.

Leeds is the city where Jonathan grew up and as a youngster played lots of golf on the great “sand-belt” (heathland) courses of Headingley, Scarcroft, Alwoodley, Moortown, Sandmoor, Moor Allerton, Cobble Hall, Ilkley, to name but a few. All these courses were designed by illustrious golf course architects, such as: Alister MacKenzie, Harry Colt and Robert Trent Jones snr.. In the early 1990’s the golf course at Wike Ridge was developed on open, exposed sandy farmland and it was the first “pay and play” course of its kind in the region.

Our masterplan was developed to investigate opportunities to make it one of the best courses in the region. This didn’t necessarily mean lengthening the course, although this was to be considered also. The strategy of the design was the main focus of our design work and we looked carefully at how to answer all the demands of the brief. The “new-look” Wike Ridge course has had what could be considered to be a “kind-of facelift”, with 2 new greens, numerous new water features, new tee complexes on 12 holes, the renovation of all sand bunkers, the introduction of new strategically-placed fairway and approach bunkers and the eradication of “pinch-points” which included the complete removal of original hole #2.

Together with these enhancements the course length increased from 6482 yards to 6535 yards, par 72 – not considered a long course by modern standards, but with the careful placement of new hazards, it plays longer than it suggests, plus the added challenge of the prevailing wind on this hilltop site, the course will not be a pushover.

During the course of the construction works 1,500 semi-mature trees (comprising Oak, Silver Birch, Ash, Field Maple, Pine and Rowan) were transplanted (from existing plantations) in-between fairways to further emphasise the design strategy and provide screening. This work was undertaken by Northern Tree Transplanters. The golf course contractor was White Horse (Northern) Contractors Limited.

Photo Credit: Nathan Horner