THIS FORMER farmhouse in the village of Thorner will suit golf fanatics down to a tee - it comes with its own nine-hole course and clubhouse.
Birkby Grange, near Leeds, is for sale at £1.1million and is perfect for those who want to practise their swing. But owner Marshall Capel warns that its tiny course is tough enough to test Yorkshireman and newly-crowned Masters champion Danny Willett.
Officially opened by Ryder Cup legend Howard Clark, it features three greens and two ponds set amid mature trees. It also comes with a driving net and a ball washer.
“It’s small but it’s not easy because the greens aren’t flat. Quite a few professionals have played on it and no-one makes a fool of it,” said Mr Capel.
He had the course, known locally as Birkby Hill Golf Club, made in 1998 after buying the house and 2.5 acres of land. He designed it himself and the work, together with the garden landscaping and timber clubhouse, cost almost £100,000.
“It was a bit of fun and I loved the idea of stepping out of the house and playing a round. Another reason for doing it is that there are amazing 40-mile views. You can see York Minster and the White Horse at Kilburn from the course,” said Mr Capel, who for years staged his own annual tournament, the “Birkby Hill Open”.
“We invited friends over, put up a marquee, hired a band and had drinks in the clubhouse bar. Then we’d play with a team of six men and six women. The rule was that they had to be certified drunk and if anyone fell down and passed out we had to play round them. It was hilarious.”
A member of Moor Allerton Golf Club for the last 46 years, he plays off 14.3 and describes his form as “average”.
“People take the game too seriously. It’s there to be enjoyed. I am a fanatic and I play every day but, for me, it’s fresh air and a bit of fun with friends,” he said.
The founder of a Leeds-based bakery supplying supermarkets, including Marks & Spencer, Mr Capel, 69, retired in 2004. In 2009 he came up with a business aimed at getting children interested in golf. His Kwik Golf is now played in UK and American schools and consists of three 30-yard holes with a 33-inch diameter.
“The problem is that kids never get a chance to try golf because schools don’t have the facilities and only play football and cricket. This is a version of the game that they can play and then we get a golf pro to take them to a local course to show them what that is like,” he said.
He is selling Birkby Grange as he now spends winter in Florida. Andrew Beadnall, of Beadnall Copley estate agents, is marketing the property and says it has already created a lot of interest. The semi-rural house, which has been modernised and extended, has four bedrooms, a triple garage and the grounds also include stables and a tack room.
Mr Beadnall said: “I’ve been an estate agent for almost 43 years and I have never seen a house with its own golf course. It is extremely rare. The course is very pretty and has been professionally maintained. There are four golf clubs within easy reach of this house but the idea of also being to step out of your door and play a round is very appealing. It is every golfer’s dream.”
• For details of Birkby Grange and its golf course, contact www.beadnallcopley.co.uk