Dean Bailey heads to Ramside Hall to play the Prince Bishops Course
Ramside Hall has come a long way since the opening of the Jonathan Gaunt-designed Prince Bishops Course in 1996.
Now 24 years old, the course is a fine example of modern English parkland design, offering rewards for accuracy and plenty of penalties for those venturing too far off-line. At 6,851 yards from the back tees, this par 72 layout offers birdie opportunities and a number of holes which require more caution than power.
Away from the golf course you’ll find a first-class resort which never seems to stand still with a luxury hotel, three restaurants and spectacular spa and leisure facilities. Ramside is also home to the Cathedral Course, which opened in 2014.
On the Prince Bishops Course, the opening par four of 446 yards is a tough one requiring a solid drive to reach the corner and give a view of the green around 200 yards away. A small front bunker on the left of the green must be avoided while those missing wide left risk a trip to the water.
At the par five second, another good drive is needed from the white tee to clear the stream and get past a fairway bunker on the right side. From here, long hitters can attempt to make the green in two – just stay out of the bunkers to the right of the green.
The short third is just 124 yards from the white tees and requires a simple shot to a generous green – a good chance to make an early two.
Another 400-yard-plus par four follows. This dogleg left offers the chance to take on the bunker on the left of the corner. If you make the carry you’ll be rewarded with a much simpler approach to a wide, thin green beyond a stream.
At the fifth, avoid the fairway bunker to the left side and you’ll be rewarded with a good look at a very generous green. Make a mistake from the tee and a lay up is advised – making a second mistake and finding the cross bunker can lead to disaster here.
If the pin is on the left side of the sixth green, this is arguably the easiest par four on the course at just 304 yards. If the pin is on the right side, it’s one of the toughest with water short, long and right. Pick your approach here based on the pin location – a birdie chance awaits some days while disaster awaits on others.
A deceptively tricky short par three, the seventh is just 133 yards but you must pay attention to your club selection. Many will choose plenty of club to make it over the water in front of the green, just don’t take too much club and find the back bunker – from which you’ll face a tricky sand shot back towards the slope and water.
The par four eighth, 366 yards from the white tee, is a 90-degree dogleg requiring accuracy and good course management. Play into the corner of the dogleg from the tee, avoiding the lake to the right and the bunkers just beyond the fairway at the corner. From here, an uphill approach must make it past three bunkers en-route to another thin green with three bunkers lurking beyond. Alternatively, cut the corner and take aim at the green. A good drive will be rewarded with a short pitch to the green while a great one will leave an eagle putt.
Take note of slope in the fairway at the par five ninth to avoid bouncing into the fairway bunker on the right side. From the left side of the fairway, there are three bunkers to avoid en-route to the green.
As you make the turn, you’ll find one of the tougher par threes at Ramside. At 200 yards, good ball striking is essential to make the carry to the green at the 10th while the 345-yard 11th hole can offer birdies, particularly to those who hit driver from the tee.
A dogleg follows at the long par five 12th. Play short of the cross bunkers some 75 yards from the green to give yourself the best chance of making birdie here. At a little over 400 yards, the key to playing the 13th is negotiating the slopes in front of the green. At the long 14th, some 440 yards, a good drive must negotiate bunkers flanking the fairway, though the approach is generous to a large green with a large bunker on the left side of the putting surface.
The par three 15th almost got our nod for signature hole with its wide, bunkerless green lying just beyond a lake. Club selection is key here, though those looking to bail out can play left and leave a simple pitch.
The short par four 16th, just 302 yards, was another contender for signature hole. Only the very longest can think about reaching the green here with bunkers cut into the bank below the putting surface. A simple hole when played sensibly, those who try to overwhelm it often pay the price.
A tough finish leads back to the hotel, starting with the par five 17th. A long tee shot to the corner must be followed with an accurate approach avoiding the bunker on the left side to leave a mid or short iron to a green guarded by three bunkers.
The 18th, played in the shadow of the hotel and luxury treehouses, got our pick for signature hole (see fact file). From here, be sure to head into the clubhouse and sample an excellent, modern club experience.
For more than 20 years, Ramside Hall has been a prime example of the modern golfing resort. Now home to two golf courses – Prince Bishops and Cathedral – the clubhouse has a traditional feel with excellent service and top-quality food, plus a floodlit driving range. With a spa, three restaurants and leisure facilities on-site as well as the 127-bedroom hotel, self-catering Farmhouse and luxury treehouse accommodation, there’s truly something for everyone at Ramside.
Carrville, Durham, DH1 1TD
Tel 0191 386 5282
See the website for up-to-date offers.
A range of packages are available including golf, accommodation and food.
Blue tees – 6,851 yards
White tees – 6,520 yards
Yellow tees – 6,220 yards
Red tees – 5,610 yards
Two golf courses – Prince Bishops and Cathedral
Buggy and trolley hire
Covered, floodlit driving range
Short game practice area & putting green
Bar and dining area
Grab a course guide, plan your route in advance and stick to it.
The 18th at Ramside is a formidable closing par four. Not the longest at 368 yards, water guards the right side of the hole from tee to green, with thick woods waiting on the left side. Split the fairway with a driver, avoiding the bunker to the left, and you’ve got a short iron or wedge uphill to a green which is narrow in the front and generous at the back. Long approaches are tough here with three bunkers and more water waiting on the right side – it’s time to finish with your best two swings of the day.
The Prince Bishops Course has always been great fun to play, add a visit to your plans this summer.