GOLFERS from all over the globe have descended on Alwoodley and Moortown this week for the MacKenzie Society Gathering – a week that celebrates the life and legacy of legendary course designer Dr Alister MacKenzie.
The two courses were the first created by Yorkshireman MacKenzie, who was born in Normanton in 1870, with Alwoodley his first and Moortown following quickly on its heels.
More than 100 players from America, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Canada and Ireland will compete tomorrow at Alwoodley and then on Friday at Moortown.
The 36-hole competition is the focal point of the week for the players, members at courses such as Augusta National, Cypress Point, Crystal Downs and Pasatiempo in the USA, the Jockey Club in Argentina, Titirangi in New Zealand, and Royal Melbourne and Royal Adelaide in Australia.
But the Gathering’s two Leeds hosts also prepared a plethora of activities for both them and the 100 wives and partners who have made the journey with them to Yorkshire.
Among them were a visit to last Sunday’s Tockwith Show, and to York Minster, an exploration of the ‘Worlds of Hockney & Sir Titus Salt’, a trip to Ripley Castle, and dinner at the National Railway Museum, York.
Alwoodley secretary Julie Slater said: “There are historians coming from each visiting club to talk about MacKenzie, the progress in his designs – all things MacKenzie really.
“The teams are made up of the club champions, a director from each participating club, the professional, historian and then usually the captain.
“At Moortown and Alwoodley we usually have to hold a play-off beforehand because it is so popular, so many people want to play in one of these events.
“The week is really about gathering together, meeting up, seeing old friends, making new friends, and enjoying the hospitality, history and culture of Yorkshire.”
The society has its roots in the USA and has grown at the invitation of the society, which, not unnaturally, offered MacKenzie’s two earliest courses the chance to join their ranks. The last time the annual MacKenzie Society Gathering was held in Yorkshire was in 2005.
“There are two practice days and two competition days for the men, but it is all about being together, the camaraderie, the MacKenzie heritage,” continued Slater.
“The society’s directors will decide where it will move to next.
“We are hosting it together with Moortown so that the guests – the ladies – can play here while the men are playing the competition at the other club, and vice versa.”
The week got underway officially on Monday evening with an opening ceremony that included a performance by the City of Leeds Pipe Band.
But tomorrow sees the start of the ‘serious’ business with round one of the Gathering’s golf event at Alwoodley.
The course will be the stage for another big event in early October, the North of England Amateur Open Stroke Play Championship, won last year by Malton & Norton’s David Hague.
It is the closing event of England Golf’s 2018 Order of Merit.
But you don’t have to be a MacKenzie Society member of one of the country’s leading amateurs to play Alwoodley, which next year will stage the English amateur stroke play championship, the Brabazon Trophy.
Alwoodley welcome visitors and are currently offering twilight golf – after 4pm – for the discounted price of £60 Sunday through to Friday, and £75 on Saturday.
For more information contact the club on 0113 268 1680 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.