Alan Hedley plots his way around a course in great condition
Ryton may be considered short by modern standards as it measures just over 6,000 yards off the back tees.
But this picturesque Tyne Valley layout is no pushover. Tree-lined with occasionally tight fairways and plenty of out of bounds plus lightning fast greens, it provides an excellent test.
While there are five par fours under 400 yards, that’s balanced by five par fours of more than 400 yards.
One of those tough par fours comes as early as the second which follows a drivable par four provided you avoid out of bounds on the right and trees left.
While the first may be a birdie chance the second with its narrow entrance, water hazard and long green is much more difficult.
A couple of short par fours follow, but the third has a well-bunkered green and there is a tricky mound just in front and your tee shot on both holes, while the fourth has also has large cross bunker short of the green.
The first of the two par fives, the fifth has a generous fairway though there is out of bounds right and trees left plus a tricky three-tiered green.
Favouring the left side at the next par four avoids the out of bounds – the narrow fairway slopes towards it – while a small green has subtle borrows.
The seventh, first of four par threes, is rated the easiest hole, but you’ll need a decent tee shot to a two-tiered green guarded by trees and couple of tricky bunkers.
Two more big par fours follow and the eighth is a very tricky left to right dogleg with out of bounds right and trees left. Par is good here as it is at the ninth where a tee shot to the corner of the dogleg will set up your approach to a raised green.
Then it’s into Ryton’s own Amen Corner with a drivable risk or reward par four 10th with out of bounds right and trees. The green is elevated with a steep slope down to the river and it is well bunkered. Most will lay up with a rescue or iron and trust their wedge play.
A fine par three follows and accuracy is paramount here with out of bounds on both sides and a left to right sloping green.
Another 450-yard par four with out of bounds and trees completes the Amen Corner trio. All that and a narrow fairway makes this one of the toughest tee shots on the course and a par here feels like a birdie.
The 13th is a long par five. Avoid the trees on the left and then negotiate the slight dogleg to leave a pitch through a narrow entrance to the two-tier green.
The downhill par three 14th has a large well-bunkered green and you’ll be satisfied with par. The next is another long tree-lined par four with out of bounds – beware of the dip before the green.
There are scoring chances on the closing three holes, two of them shortish par fours, but you need to drive accurately over hedges and trees at 16. It does have a very large, rolling green and is a birdie opportunity.
The 17th has a tricky, blind shot over the hedge to a long, narrow green which is well protected by bunkers before the signature 18th hole (see fact file), which is overlooked by Ryton’s splendid clubhouse.
Ryton Golf Club
Clara Vale, Ryton, NE40 3TD
tel 0191 413 3734
Mon-Fri £12, weekday fourball £40
Sat-Sun £20, weekend four ball £70
Packages available for groups and societies
White tees 6,096 yards
Yellow tees 5,873 yards
Red tees 5,452 yards
Large modern clubhouse with bar/lounge and dining room
Locker rooms and changing facilities
Practice range with short game area
Hitting the fairway is key on this tight course – and it’s not always a driver. The greens are excellent and will reward anyone with a good putting stroke
Not many clubs have a par three finish and few have one which is their signature hole, but this 148-yard one is and it’s a real test played over trees to a large well-bunkered green with out of bounds right. Not an easy finish!
An excellent parkland venue which proves length isn’t always necessary to provide a good test of golf and accuracy is a must, especially off the tee