Golf on Route YC

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A Golfer’s Guide to Yorkshire’s Ultimate Road Trip
Posted on
March 8, 2024
by
Richard Pennell in ,
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

According to the Met Office, the “South of England had its wettest February since at least 1836”, and no golfer in the district was arguing. A half-term escape of some sort was required, and so Route YC - billed as “Yorkshire’s Ultimate Road Trip” - beckoned. Waterproofs, golf clubs, the family and a small dog were bundled into the car as further rain swept across Surrey, but before long, the wide open space of the Humber estuary was in sight, along with the sun, an unfamiliar sight in the previous few weeks.

The first pitstop was Bridlington Links, which sits atop the cliffs overlooking the town after which it is named, a settlement in the county of East Riding dating back to the Bronze Age. After weeks of sodden golf down south amid frequent course closures, the turf up here is as refreshing as the wind that whips across the course, and father and son head out on the Heritage Course while mother and daughter hit the gym and coffee shop in turn. The facility has an interesting element in that the routing switches between Heritage and Bay Course configurations during the week, but regardless of which option is in play, the par five third is a hole to remember - a “Brid Links Special!”

Bridlington Links - clubhouse

Three hours later, our golf spikes are delightfully free of mud, but we exchange them for dress shoes and deposit our kit at one of Beaconsfield Holiday Apartments’ gorgeous self-catering units on South Marine Drive before heading straight to The Old Forge in Sewerby, to refuel after the afternoon’s exertions.  Owners Eddie & Joanne King refurbished this delightful restaurant in 2019, and with its blend of nooks and outdoor seating, it is the perfect place for group gatherings and quiet, romantic evenings alike.

The Old Forge, Sewerby

The menu is broad and imaginative, with an emphasis on local produce and suppliers, but the real delight is in the warmth of the welcome, and the service. We try traditional fare alongside artistic delicacies, but the star of the show is the skinless haddock and chips. Suitably replenished, we return to our apartment and take turns to sit in a floating “egg chair” on the balcony as the stars twinkle in the sky and the waves lap in on an endless sandy beach below.

Golf on Route YC
View from Beaconsfield Apartments

In the morning, an early start for an inland deviation from the coastal route brings me to Ganton Golf Club - an historic “inland links” with an extraordinary pedigree. Built on a spit of sand left behind by glacial motions through the Vale of Pickering somewhere in the distant past, the course is an extraordinary roller-coaster ride through heath and gorse, with incredibly firm surfaces and the most spectacular bunkering. “The Pandies”, as the giant sand scrapes that have always been a part of Ganton’s landscape are known, do indeed cause the pandemonium after which they are named, but the overall impression as I reluctantly pull out of the car park is of a purity that is rare in the modern game.

Ganton Golf Club

The turf here is so strong that Wembley once imported a whole swath of it for the football pitch, but the club needn’t have worried about it being replaced, for this terrain is built for grass, and for golf. Ganton may be a few miles inland of this precious coastal tour, but it is to me an essential bolt-on, and I leave with the bonus of a few minutes spent watching their resident barn owl glide silently across the course.

Next up is the North Yorkshire Waterpark in Wykeham, and after trying to hide our waiver signing from the children, we hit the archery and axe-throwing galleries. As expected, the ancient art of archery is strangely addictive, and we can hardly retrieve our arrows fast enough for the next round, each finding the target often enough to be utterly beguiled by the end of our slot. By contrast, axe-throwing seems both very difficult and somewhat random, but our delightful instructor seems able to split the target at will, which only intensifies our ambition. The children are, however, oblivious to the third and final activity of our trip - two goes on the giant ZipLine - and delirium sets in as we approach the tower from which we will shortly fly. From a perch 13 metres above the lake, we glide 250 metres to a soft landing on the far bank, and sprint all the way back for another go.

North Yorkshire Waterpark - the ZipLine!

Once again, the excitement has built our appetites, and so after a quick change, we head out to the North Star Hotel, perched above Bempton Cliffs and a stone’s throw from a beach on which a plethora of seabirds and seals can often be spotted. We are too early for the puffins, but we dine with several families staying in the hotel’s lovely rooms, and the sense of peace that this place seems to offer makes us promise ourselves we’ll return. Another delicious starter and main is consumed before the main event - when the Johnston family’s famous Dessert Trolley is wheeled around the dining room. Michael and his family are three decades into ownership of this hostelry, whose history goes back to the 1840s, but it is in the blend of modern cuisine with traditional hospitality that its reputation continues to thrive. Highly recommended!

The North Star Hotel, Bempton

After a long stroll along Bridlington’s idyllic shoreline, lit by a full moon high above the famous lobster pots of the harbour, we retire to bed and catch a wonderful sleep before the next round of activities. The website of Flamborough Head Golf Club claims it is the “friendliest golf club on the coast”, and it is hard to argue with that description after our chat with Martin Davis. We decide to play the front nine holes in order to also sneak in a visit to Sewerby Hall, and though there is a degree to which we gaze across at the coastal back nine with a tinge of regret that we won’t play them this time, there is also a dark cloud moving our way, and we manage to get over to meet the pygmy goats and capuchin monkeys in the Sewerby Hall Zoo before the heavens open. Also resident are the Humboldt penguins, whose frantic fishing has to be seen to be believed.

Our final pitstop on this all-too-short debut on Route YC is the Ship Inn, in Sewerby, and we cannot bear to order anything other than their famous pies, washed down with local ales and proper lemonade. This award-winning pub’s menu describes the area in which we sit as “the coast with the most”, and we cannot argue with this, nor the statement that their food is exceptional. On Saturday afternoon, with a football match on in the main bar, the place is buzzing, but despite all the food orders on his plate, Head Chef and owner Darren still finds time to chew the fat, feed the dog, and just cement this overwhelming sense of the friendliness of this part of the world.

Golf on Route YC
The Ship Inn, Sewerby

And so, having dodged the southern rain for almost 72 hours, it finally catches up with us and we head home again, wiper blades at full pelt though we are still dry. But as short trips go, this one has been packed with not just glorious golf but such variety in the other activities and experiences on offer. Back at home, I study the wider reach of the Route YC material, and realise that one could spend not just a weekend, nor only a week, but months exploring this part of the world without risk of running out of either world-class entertainment and hospitality, but also wide open spaces and fresh air.

The great outdoors is here in spades, and there are four humans and a tired but happy dog who simply can’t wait to return, and explore the next section; golf and beyond. What a place!

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About Richard Pennell

Richard Pennell has been a greenkeeper and club manager, who started writing during lockdown as he could no longer bear not to. He can be found either dreaming of Green Jackets or looking for a small, white ball in the heather.

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