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22 May 2024

A little hidden Alister Mackenzie ‘gem’ by Paul Howard, PGA Professional

Below is the full review of Bury Golf Club by Paul Howard, PGA Professional
- the original publication can be viewed here.

The great Architect, Alistair McKenzie, was renowned for bringing us some of the worlds great golf courses. Cypress Point, Royal Melbourne, Augusta and one of my favourites, on these shores, Alwoodley. He also helped design a little hidden gem, north of Manchester called, wait for it, ‘Bury’. Yes, ‘Bury’.

You might be forgiven if you haven’t heard of it. I mean Bury itself is best known for its market and black pudding.  They don’t boast a famous sports team. At just 5567 6,015 yards (from the white tees),  and two par 4s that measure just 251 and 264 yards Bury Golf Club might not scream out, on paper. Yet given she features in the top 25 courses in Lancashire I was curious and in need of ticking her off. Clearly others thought in the same way I now do for her to feature in this elite list. So on a Monday morning I took my friend for a visit.

"What I found is possibly one of the best courses in Lancashire for just £35.00."

Driving into the car park, the first impressions might have put some off. No impressive clubhouse or grand entrance. Yet walking up the steps next to the clubhouse I felt quite excited when I was first hit by the first sight of greenery. You can literally see her character from the par 3, 1st tee.

The course has undoubtedly suffered over the wet winter. The bunkers remain as ground under repair. Sure, the greens could be speeded up. Looking beyond that though, the course was one of the most fun courses I’ve played. In true McKenzie fashion the undulating greens stood out above all else. We got to play some of the fun pin positions too, that were placed on crests and the edge of plateaus. At times we found ourselves leaving putts short out of fear of where we might end up.

Quite often golf holes need length to be noticed. Bury doesn’t afford that luxury due to space on which she thrives. On a number of holes one had to drive over a green they’d just played. Yet at every stage the course offered so much fun and character. We felt excited on every tee to see what was coming next. We often found ourselves playing a hole but commenting on an exciting green or view we hadn’t yet visited or seen, that we passed. If ever the course could be summed up it would be by way of the 17th, 103 yard par 3, that plays over a ravine. Just pure fun. There was so many holes that offered a risk and reward scenario. Drivable par 4s, long par 3s, par 4s requiring long iron, second shots… it was ideal for the match play, we played. With her variations I m used every club in the bag.

Leaving the course we vowed to return. I hadn’t even played well… yet I can’t wait to bring others here. There is something so satisfying about a golfer who finds an uncharted land. It reminded me a lot of another Dr Alistair design, Cavendish in Derby. Each shot felt so much fun and challenging. Quirky holes, peacefulness and great views across the course. We spoke on the way home and both agreed it’s a club we would join if we lived in the area. I think you could play here regularly and never become bored. You could play holes countless different ways.

Bury Golf Club is undoubtedly worth a visit. The green fee offers great value for money. I couldn’t believe, on such a nice day, we’d barely seen another golfer either. I am informed they have just 500 members. This possibly explains why we virtually had the course to ourselves.

Who’d have known, I found a little hidden gem. In a little place called Bury.

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