Gold tees 6,669 yards, par 71 White tees 6,406 yards, par 71 Yellow tees 6,089 yards, par 71 Red tees 5,732 yards, par 74
-Historic clubhouse with 26-bed dormy house - Covered driving range - Buggy and trolley hire - Excellent dining available throughout the day
Dean Bailey takes a short break in Alnmouth Golf Club’s dormy house and enjoys a unique Northumbrian golf experience
I often imagine what it would be like to wake up every morning with views of a golf course; pop out the door and hit a few putts; and always be a few seconds from the course.
While I haven’t quite achieved that full-time yet, I have found the next best thing. Staying in the dormy house at Alnmouth Golf Club is a so far unmatched experience. There is nothing quite like sleeping on the first floor of Foxton Hall – where the 14 twin or single rooms, which are being upgraded as part of a rolling programme, offer modern, comfortable places to unwind and prepare for your day and are seconds from where you’ve chatted through your round, enjoyed dinner, and watched Sunday night’s PGA Tour coverage with a drink or two.
Dinner and breakfast are hearty, with top-quality local produce throughout the menus, which are designed for golfers looking to eat early, spend a day on the course, and return hungry. The Scotch eggs and sticky toffee pudding are highly recommended! Service is superb too, with great care given to catering for golfers. No request – from a late dinner to finding a space to dry out golf bags – is any trouble.
England’s fourth oldest club, Alnmouth overlooks the North Sea and brushes close to the beach at the spectacular fifth hole. Host of the Seniors’ Home Internationals in 2019 as the golf club celebrated its 150th anniversary, the course continues to benefit from investment. During the 2022/23 winter, the irrigation system was replaced to maintain high quality conditions, while a renovation by architect Howard Swan, which primarily focusses on restoring bunkers in Harry Colt’s style, continues to enhance the aesthetics and challenge of the layout around Foxton Hall – which was created by Colt in the early 1930s following the club’s move from its nine-hole course, which is now Alnmouth Village.
The round begins with a pair of tough par fours measuring more than 400 yards. At the downhill first, 419 yards from the white tees, finding the generous fairway is essential to get a look at the green complex. Cut into a hill with a single bunker on the front left corner, it also features a steep slope right which leads down to a catchment area well below the heavily contoured putting surface. At the much narrower second, favour the right side to get a helpful bounce and stay well clear of the water which hugs the left side. The second shot is uphill to a tricky green with a steep drop down to the water on its left side, and a single bunker right.
Having tackled the opening holes, the 472-yard par five third offers a great birdie chance. A wide fairway between four bunkers leads to a narrow approach guarded by two deep bunkers right. The vast left-to-right sloping green welcomes shots from the left, while a deep bunker front right catches cautious shots.
Just slightly shorter, the par four fourth requires a great tee shot to reach or slightly cut the corner of the right-to-left dogleg between a trio of bunkers. The green has a pair of cross bunkers on the right and two deep greenside bunkers left. The signature par three fifth hole follows.
Each of Alnmouth’s par threes is spectacular, and each plays differently depending on the wind. Set beside the beach on the lowest part of the course, the 178-yard fifth appears surrounded by bunkers. In reality, there is room beyond the steeply faced traps – the first two of which are set well back from the putting surface. While they won’t often come into play, finding either of these leaves an incredibly tough up-and-down. The green, longer than it is wide, is shaped softly by the contours of the bunkers and will reject any shots which get too close to its edges.
Played uphill, the tee shot at the 439-yard sixth can appear daunting, but there is a lot of room at the top of the hill. Two bunkers set well back from the green on the right side are deep, while a third bunker on the left will tend to help players as running further left is perilous. The green is one of the highlights of the front nine.
A trio of birdie opportunities follows. The short dogleg left-to-right seventh has a narrow, bunkerless green, while the 132-yard par three eighth has a well-defended plateau green set beyond a pair of front bunkers. An impressive set of five restored bunkers are the primary defence of the 332-yard ninth – where a lay up and accurate wedge shot is the best route to making a three at this heavily contoured green complex.
The 432-yard par four 10th is tough. Flanked by out of bounds on both sides, tee shots must avoid a pair of bunkers left while five more traps – including three approach bunkers right – guard a small green.
Finding the correct section of an enormous, spectacularly contoured green wrapped around the left greenside bunker at the 150-yard 11th is essential. Club selection is also key at the 324-yard 12th, where long hitters can drive down the slope and leave a short pitch, though those who venture off-line face a devilishly tricky shot to a tiny target guarded by a trio of bunkers.
A great tee shot is required at the par five 13th to find the fairway plateau and stay out of the bunkers right, both of which are cut well below the fairway. Three more bunkers guard the route to the green, though there is plenty of room between them. The green is vast, with three more traps waiting to catch out aggressive players.
Play accurately at the 377-yard 14th, where a steep slope and trees wait to catch out those who play too far right. There are no bunkers at this thin, back-to-front sloping green with steep banks on its flanks.
Birdies are possible at the short par four 15th – when the hole is played wisely. A long tee shot between the trees will leave a short pitch beyond a single, deep bunker. Anything left or right here is in serious trouble.
Turning back for home, the 511-yard 16th is flanked on its right side by the sixth hole of Alnmouth Village. Stay sightly left, without going into the trees or two fairway bunkers, to leave a simple lay up and wedge shot to this well-guarded green which has two front bunkers.
The longest and most difficult of the par threes, the green at the 214-yard 17th is set beyond a short, steep rise and has five bunkers around its front edge.
The 372-yard 18th rewards sensible play with a generous target short of the three fairway bunkers. From here, the green – within touching distance of the clubhouse – features three bunkers right and two left.
After taking on the course, it’s time for dinner, a few drinks, a good night’s sleep, and the chance to do it all again in the morning. If only we could stay longer…
An unrivalled experience on and off the golf course, a stay in the dormy house and at least two rounds at Alnmouth should be on every golfer’s bucket list.