Danny Lockwood goes golfing in the shadows of the historic Pendle Witches – to Mytton Fold Hotel and Golf Club
FOR such a relatively small country, England never fails to surprise me with some its undiscovered backwaters and breathtaking beauty spots. The hills and valleys in the borough of Pendle were the latest to open my eyes to just how beautiful a place we call home.
‘Pendle’ you say? ‘Where’s that when it’s at home?’ Well, it’s north of Burnley, up the M66 if you want to visit via the motorway, but is also just over the tops on the A59 from Skipton.
With the fabu
lous Forest of Bowland next door and the Yorkshire Dales just to the north, it shouldn’t be surprising that some of the views from Mytton Fold Golf Club are nothing short of breathtaking.
Pendle Hill, synonymous with the 17th century Pendle Witch trials, broods over Mytton Fold to the east, a hillside course whose views across the Ribble Valley towards the imposing Stonyhurst College make some of your tee shots memorable indeed.
The golf club, like a great many of its generation, was created in the 1990s from former farming land, in this case with what began as private lodging but has now evolved into a Best Western Hotel resort, alongside the club with around 200 members.
Its founder Frank Hargreaves farmed the fields for years before tragedy struck and his herd was destroyed. His wife Lilian started the bed and breakfast business from the farmhouse and together they developed Mytton Fold Hotel. Frank enjoyed his golf and with intimate knowledge of the landscape, set about developing the layout which was opened in 1994 by Kenny Dalglish of Liverpool, Blackburn and Scotland fame.
It’s a characterful layout, not over long by any means with only one par 5 at the very top of the course, and with an intriguing selection of hazards – not least the branch railway line between the clubhouse and the main body of the course. Just the 1st, 17th and 18th are on the ‘home’ side of it.
Most of the trouble on the outward nine is in the form of streams and ponds that are ever present and make your choice of tee shot, especially on the shorter par 4s, a real premium.
You don’t encounter a bunker (or I didn’t see one) until the 10th, after which the greenside traps become more of a feature, although those water hazards are never too far away.
You can see why Mytton Fold is increasingly popular with visiting parties and societies but a word of warning is due.
Golf is an excellent recreational sport for keeping fit, but if you’re walking or carrying on this track you can be assured of a rigorous legs and lungs workout! The five lateral holes at the bottom of the course and three at the top are easy enough, but you don’t need to be a mathematician to know that half of the other 10 running vertically up and down the hillside equates to five good climbs!
At least when you’ve completed one, you’re assured some of those stunning land and skyscapes.
Don’t despair however, because the club has a 14-strong fleet of the latest state of the art buggies complete with onboard range finders, and the course has all-weather buggy paths too.
The club is always offering and updating attractive visitor offers and (when we visited) the two-ball with bacon butties and coffees was already good value at £55 (£60 on a weekend), but with a buggy included in the package it’s a steal.
Many golf clubs have branched out into the popular Footgolf activity, but Mytton Fold has managed to incorporate its Footgolf holes into the existing layout, with separate tee-off and hole locations, with a designated ‘kick off’ time of 2-5pm every Sunday from March through October. Private Footgolf parties can also be booked.
The club recommends visitors to book with the club and hotel direct to get the best deals, and being a Best Western resort which incorporates the Folds Restaurant, there is also the facility for meetings, conferences and formal events such as weddings.
Mytton Fold (yellow tees)
Hole 1 - 114 yards par 3
The course starts and finishes with par 3s, but there the similarity ends. The first is a gentle loosener, a short knock over an ornamental pond to a big circular green
Hole 2 - 262 yards
The tee is set well back but the eye is drawn to the railway line running (OB naturally) down the left and the two ponds in front of an elevated green. Don’t be tempted to take the driver.
Hole 3 - 328 yards par 4
Not long at all, but still two good hits as the dogleg left rises in effectively three steps to a green well above you. Typical of these holes the green is cut into the hillside and is flat, with the contours both rear and back left and right, helping you.
Hole 4 - 396 yards par 4
The reverse of the third except longer, back down the hill and doglegging right. Beware however the pond in the middle of the fairway and in driving distance. You can go left of it, which is the best side as the dogleg is vary late, with the green tucked away but with run-offs to the back and right.
Hole 5 - 246 yards par 4
Beware here, because the beck that wends its way diagonally across the front of this elevated green isn’t immediately visible for the tee (I found it). Far safer is a lay up and short iron.
Hole 6 - 352 yards par 4
I can only imagine what this hole was like originally when the green was significantly further up the hill – a beast. It’s not easy now. All uphill, three steps with OB up the right. A generous landing spot but that OB then encroaches again towards a small, figure of eight-shaped green.
Hole 7 - 358 yards par 4
Danger everywhere, a pond that straddles the fairway at about 250 yards, but which is more reachable than usual as it’s all downhill. There’s a hazard all the way down the right and the stream weaves in tight again to the green. There is a high premium on an accurate approach.
Hole 8 - 332 yards par 4
No trouble off the tee as you head back up the hill, a generous landing area, and another second into a flat green cut into the banking with the slopes assisting, especially if it’s dry.
Hole 9 - 161 yards par 3
A good looking downhill medium short hole, although the green runs off steeply on three sides, so unless you have great control, running in from short might be wise.
Hole 10 - 298 yards par 4
There’s a tight OB on the left, but plenty of room to the right. Just don’t stray too far and be blocked out on a second to a small, round green with the course’s first bunker on the front left.
Hole 11 - 342 yards par 4
The first hole across the top of Mytton Fold, towards the handsome Pendle Hill in the distance. Everything falls away to the left but at least there’s no water to contend with.
Hole 12 - 291 yards par 4
Everything falls away right as you parallel the 11th, and your second shot needs to favour the left side, as the contours gather shots back into a long, flat green.
Hole 13 - 464 yards par 5
The only long hole, and one of great character, again back towards Pendle Hill. There’s a ‘lookout’ platform as you drive to a split level fairway, the left side about 20ft below the right, which is the best angle for your second – but beware the OB if you are wildly right off the tee. The approach becomes markedly right-to-left. There’s a bunker front left, and trouble if you fly the green long.
Hole 14 - 390 yards par 4
Gorgeous views across the Ribble from an elevated tee, driving to a broad fairway, so no excuse for finding the OB on the right. There are trees down the left and a small pond which the big hitters might bring into play. The green has two front left traps and a steep rear run-off.
Hole 15 - 338 yards par 4
Back up the hill for the final time, a low initial gradient before you climb to another recessed green. The two front left and right bunkers are well short of the putting surface, but there is OB long.
Hole 16 - 403 yards par 4
I thought this was tough for index 12, with a big pond and trees on the left, plus trees on the right but plenty of room to target off the tee before your approach to a generous green.
Hole 17 - 311 yards par 4
Back across the railway tracks for the final two holes, the first being a narrowish par 4 with a drive which is not quite the 17th at St Andrews, but does require you to miss the big greenkeeper’s shed on the right.
Driver isn’t needed and the fairway slopes down to the left to an accessible green, with a bunker above right and another left.
Hole 18 - 210 yards par 3
A tough finish, a long par 3 which is also uphill and if the wind is against, getting there is a real challenge.
There’s a ditch mid length which shouldn’t feature unless you hit the tree on the left side and come back into it.
A bunker is short left for anyone who can’t reach the large green which is raised above you.