Dean Bailey visits one of the region’s finest inland courses – The Northumberland Golf Club
Ask any Northumberland-based golfer to name the best-presented courses in the county over the last 50 years and The Northumberland Golf Club – or The Park – will feature highly. A golf experience among the finest in the North of England, the club is a past host of qualifying events for The Open Championship as well as the European Tour. Today it is one of the finest examples of Harry Colt and James Braid’s design work. Modern tweaks and additions, all inkeeping with Colt’s style of green design and bunkering, have maintained the course’s challenge.
Laid out on the same parkland which is home to Newcastle Racecourse within High Gosforth Park, the club was founded in 1898 and has been renovated and adapted throughout its history with changes made by Harry Colt and James Braid in the late 19th and early 20th Century, and further alterations made ahead of the course hosting Open qualifying in the 2010s.
The bunkering at Northumberland can be penal, while the tightly mown approaches and lightning fast greens – both features which win the course regular praise – offer a stern test of short game precision and control.
The opening stretch at The Park is the most scoreable – a pair of par fives and a short par four making up three of the first four holes. The first, 319 yards from the back tee, is a good birdie chance. Play a long iron to the right of the fairway bunker to leave around 100 yards back up the hill. The second is the toughest of the opening four holes, a 434-yard par four with out of bounds right and a fairway bunker 280 yards from the tee which guards the safer line to the left.
The par five third and fourth holes are both good birdie chances, though both are well defended with 10 fairway bunkers split between the two holes. Leave short approaches here as both greens are ringed by bunkers.
The 186-yard fifth is played to a large, undulating green with bunkers on three corners and a steep mound at the back left. A demanding tee shot at the dogleg-right par four sixth follows – play left here to leave a better angle to approach the green. The green here is big with three distinct tiers – good club selection is essential.
The seventh is a tricky 171-yard par three with a green encircled by classic Colt bunkering. At the short par four eighth, play over the cross bunker with a long iron or take driver down the right side. An aggressive approach can yield a good birdie opportunity here.
Heading for the turn, the ninth is toughest of the par fives. Play to the left side of the fairway if playing it in three shots, while those taking aim in two must get close to the bunker to the right of the fairway to leave the best angle to approach the putting surface, which is defended by three bunkers – including two particularly deep ones on the left side.
The par three 10th is again well defended by greenside bunkers, though the green is generous.
Heading into the toughest section of the course, the drives at the 11th and 12th can intimidate even the best players. At the 11th, the fairway narrows at 230 yards while a deep bunker protects the right side of the 12th fairway. Longer hitters can be aggressive here and go over this to find the widest part of the fairway. The bunkering around the 12th green is some of the deepest and most challenging on the course.
The 13th, one of the region’s toughest par fours, was our pick for signature hole – see fact file.
Played over the racecourse, the short 14th features out of bounds right and requires plenty of club to make the carry to the green.
The straight run back to the clubhouse begins with the par five 15th and par four 16th along the racecourse’s home straight. The 15th is a very good birdie chance should you avoid the cavernous fairway bunkers left. The two greenside bunkers are also deep, though the green is generous.
The 16th is the toughest of the final run at 440 yards. The tightest tee shot on the course, play between the left fairway bunker and the road to leave around 170 yards for your approach to a narrow green.
The 17th and 18th are good birdie chances should you find the fairway. Play left at both – the clubhouse clock is a good line for both shots – with trees on the right side able to block the approach at 17 while out of bounds awaits to the right of the 18th fairway. Hit driver at 18 to run down to the bottom of the hill and leave a short approach uphill to the green in front of the clubhouse’s veranda.
The Northumberland Golf Club, High Gosforth Park, Newcastle, NE3 5HT
tel 0191 236 2498
Buggy hire £25
White tees 6,687 yards
Yellow tees 6,325 yards
Red tees 5,351 yards
Stunning clubhouse and dining room
Locker rooms and changing facilities
Large short game and putting greens
Grass driving range
Solid driving is rewarded here, while heather, gorse and penal bunkering will torment wayward players
The 13th is an arrow-straight, long par four of 470 yards. Aim towards the three fairway bunkers to the left to leave a long iron or wood to a green protected by a steep rise and a single bunker cut into the hill on the left side. The green is generous and flat, though reaching it poses a stern challenge
A traditional English course, The Park has managed to keep up with modern technology while maintaining the strategic challenge envisioned by its architects. The presentation is superb and regular visits are highly recommended.