When Harry Colt walked through Brancepeth Castle Deer Park in 1924, he must have had a smile on his face.
Colt’s work in the North East is renowned and the course at Brancepeth Castle Golf Club – which occupies that spectacular landscape of forest, ravines and hillside – is one of his finest.
While the coach house-turned-clubhouse and Brancepeth Castle are in view on a couple of holes, aside from those, this is a place to be fully immersed in golf.
A course of great significance in Durham with its history of hosting national events as well as the annual Leonard Crawley Medal, Brancepeth is also recognised for its unique wild boar statue and logo. Once common in British forests, it’s said a particularly large and formidable boar made its lair on Brandon Hill, and terrorised locals around Brancepeth village and all those from the Wear to the Gaunless. Eventually it was lured into a pitfall by Hodge of Ferry, who is thought to be buried in Merrington Churchyard.
While the course isn’t long today, very accurate and long driving is richly rewarded while excellent shots with long irons or fairway woods are required at three of the five par threes.
The 199-yard ninth is one of the great par threes in the north of England and the signature hole at Brancepeth. Set in the shadow of the castle, it is played across a ravine to a narrow green which sits on a shelf. A long and accurate shot is required to reach the putting surface, and then stay on it. The slopes at the front and back are perilous, while there is a route to run the ball in from the left. Only the bravest take aim at back right flags – the penalty should you miss is high, as is the green from where you’ll be playing next. An incredibly difficult, but spectacular, golf hole.
As well as the golf course, Brancpeth is home to enviable practice facilities, including a large practice area with covered and open bays, short game area, and chipping and putting greens.