Alan Hedley visits Middlesbrough and finds the historic course in great nick
Middlesbrough Golf Club’s reputation as one of the premier clubs in the North East was born when James Braid was asked to design the Brass Castle Lane course.
Five times Open champion, Braid produced an impressive layout but that hasn’t stopped the club pursuing a consistent improvement programme which still continues today.
The course enjoys stunning views of the Cleveland Hills and is a joy to play. It’s not long, but with a par of 70 it’s enough to test most.
There’s a gentle introduction with a short par four – only one bunker menaces the drive with an approach to a well-bunkered narrow green.
The same can be said of the dog-leg par five second as there are no bunkers to catch the drive but there are three cross bunkers around 80 yards from the front of the green if you go for it in two.
The third is a stern test and plays longer than it looks over a hill and into the prevailing wind to another well-bunkered green.
A longish par three of 197 yards follows with two big bunkers left of the green. Par both the third and fourth and you’ll be happy.
You need to favour the left on the dog-leg fifth and big hitters need to be aware of the ditch which runs along the bottom of the fairway. The approach is uphill to a well-bunkered sloping green.
Another long dog-leg par four follows and accuracy off the tee is essential on this tree-lined hole while the par three seventh may look short but it’s dangerous – the sloping green is fronted by a big swale.
The signature hole is undoubtedly the eighth (see fact file).
Fairway bunkers make for a demanding tee shot at the ninth and the approach is to a narrow well-bunkered green.
The back nine starts with a classic risk and reward par four of around 260 yards. This is a great birdie chance if you manage to avoid the four bunkers.
The aggressive line at the dog-leg par five 11th is over the corner but beware – two ponds and a ditch await.
A tricky dog-leg par four follows with a tree-lined sloping fairway and the approach shot demands one more club than you think.
The 13th is a downhill par three to a green protected by four bunkers and the dog-leg 14th, which requires an accurate tee shot, is the start of an excellent closing stretch. A good tee shot will still leave a long approach but be careful, there’s plenty of trouble through the green.
The toughest hole on the course awaits and the left side of the fairway will give the best shot uphill to the green. Middlesbrough’s shot but tricky 16th follows and it’s a birdie chance if you treat this well-bunkered hole with respect – all the trouble is at the front of the green.
At 438 yards, the tree-lined 17th is another demanding tee shot and, for all but the longest hitters, the approach is blind to a tricky green.
The home hole is not long, but it is a dog-leg into the prevailing wind and you must avoid the fairway bunkers to have an approach to a long narrow green with out of bounds close to the left-hand side.
Green fees Every day (with a member) £25 Every day (without a member) £35 Special deals for visiting parties of 12 or more. Please contact professional.
Total distance White tees 6,350 yards Yellow Tees 6,035 yards Red tees 5,674 yards
Features Covered five-bay driving range Two practice areas Putting green Well-stocked pro shop with custom fitting Superb clubhouse with bar, refurbished lounge and dining rooms Sky TV and BT Sport Free wi-fi Snooker table Changing rooms and lockers
Caddy’s tip Accuracy from the tee is the key
Signature hole The signature hole is the superb par four eighth. From the back tees it is more than 400 yards, though it is usually played around the 360-380-yard mark. The drive needs to be straight and flighted to carry the ditch at 260 yards while the green is guarded by large trees and slopes heavily from back to front. Good luck!