Fabulous Fulford

What do you remember about 1981?

Yes, over 40 years ago when life was much simpler. Maggie Thatcher was the UK Prime Minister and Ronald Reagan was in the White House.

I was about to turn 21 and the day before my birthday, I was watching the golf on the good old BBC, in the days when there were only 3 TV channels available!

I was due to get married (for the first time), 2 months later and I was taking advantage of my last days of watching uninterrupted golf….

I remember distinctly, Bernhard Langer hitting what was probably the most famous 3rd shot of that year, the shot from the tree. Watch it here.

Now, many of you of a certain age will remember the shot, some of you will remember the course or the name of the European Tour event, and even less will remember that Tom Weiskopf actually won the event.

I will be honest, that shot is all I remember about Fulford, I couldn’t name any other winners of the Benson & Hedges events that were played there, even though it was at Fulford for 19 years with many a dramatic finish and famous winners. Unless I use Google of course.

Isn’t it strange how such an unusual shot, sticks in your memory, 40 years later?

I got the chance to play at Fulford earlier this week and I was looking forward to seeing the tree and if I could get my 60 year old ass up there for a photo opportunity. More on that later.

Fulford Golf Club is a traditional private members club near York, in Yorkshire. To our US friends, this is an oxymoron as they also accept visiting golfers, which is not something that happens at private clubs stateside.

Post pandemic, the club is thriving with a full membership so getting a tee time at Monday lunchtime was thanks to the club’s GM, Jon Dry.

The layout was designed by Major Charles Mackenzie, the lesser-known brother of Alistair Mackenzie, of Augusta National fame but I think you can see the Mackenzie family influences in the bunkering around the course.

The 6th hole

One of my favourite holes was the 6th hole, a 558 yard par 5 where accuracy and placement of your shot gives you the best opportunity to make par, or even birdie.

The 8th hole

I managed 3 birdies during my round, not at the 6th where I found the sand off the tee, but at the 8th, 9th and 18th holes.

So what about the famous 17th hole, what is it like? Well, first of all, its only 354 yards, although it does dogleg right. The tee shot is probably a long iron or hybrid down the left side of the fairway, leaving a short iron to the green. I didn’t remember that there was a ditch running across the fairway about 15 yards short of the green, such was the impact of the shot from the tree.

To be perfectly frank, the 2nd shot of Langer was a poor one although the tree does stick out a bit, protecting the left side of the green.

The commemorative plaque

Although Langer was only 23 when he climbed the tree, he still needed the help of the spectators so there was no way that I could climb that tree at 60, even though it would have been a great photo.

So to summarise the experience of playing at Fulford, it’s a wonderful layout with minimal elevation changes. With the rough up, it was a challenging but fair test, with generous greens and lovely putting surfaces.

If you are ever in Yorkshire, I would try to get a game here, it will certainly test your game. Mine was found a little wanting…..

At a glance:

  • Located 80 minutes from Manchester Airport
  • A challenging but very playable and easy-walking golf course
  • Beautiful natural setting
  • Large golf practice facility
  • Traditional and historical UK golf club.
  • Learn more at fulfordgolfclub.co.uk