By the seaside at Shields

Alan Hedley pays a visit to South Shields Golf Club 

When it comes to golf course views, those found at South Shields Golf Club are hard to beat.

The course – a combination of original work by James Braid dating back to 1893 and later work by Dr Alister Mackenzie – sits on a stunning piece of the Cleadon Hills with views over the North Sea, Cheviots and Durham coastline.

The course lies between suburban South Shields, Cleadon and Whitburn and features drystone walls, wicked gorse, temperamental wind and excellent bunker designs which give it a links and heathland feel – especially when the wind is blowing, which is often.

While the 6,295-yard course sits astride the Cleadon Hills, it is reasonably flat and easy walking. You’ll find challenging par fours, delightful risk and reward short par fours, and some cracking short holes here.

You’ll find one of those fine short holes at the very start of your round – a 176-yard opener played from an elevated tee with out of bounds left and three menacing bunkers. The tee shot can require anything from a rescue club to a short iron depending on the wind.

The 343-yard par four second also has out of bounds left and a fairway sloping right to left, so two precise shots are required. Your drive must favour the right but beware the fairway bunker, while three more traps guard the green.

Another par four of 380 yards, often played into the wind, follows. Anything left here risks finding the sand, but get it right and a solid second avoiding the greenside bunkers should leave a birdie chance.

The 418-yard fourth is often downwind and those that carry the ball over the fairway bunkers will be left with a simple approach to a green with no bunkers.

A fine par three of 189 yards follows – though it can require as much as a driver when the wind blows. You’ll find a host of greenside bunkers here, plus another two short of the green. Make sure to take plenty of club at this one!

The first par five, measuring 518 yards, follows. A blind tee shot must avoid out of bounds right. A fairway bunker and mound also guard the fairway, though those who find the fairway can reach the green in two.

The seventh is a tough 459-yard par four and finding the fairway here is essential. A good drive will leave a blind approach to a bunkerless green.

The next, a par five of 485 yards, is a genuine birdie opportunity, but you must be straight. Avoid the mounds and the trouble right and you’ll have a good chance of finding a two-tiered green guarded by two front bunkers.

A stunning par four of 342 yards with great views follows. Some will be tempted to have a crack at the green here, though there are plenty of bunkers to contend with en-route to the green.

Another fine par three of 170 yards follows, before another tempting par four of 322 yards. A bold tee shot must flirt with trees and out of bounds. Alternatively, a three wood or hybrid past the corner will leave an easy pitch to the two-tiered green.

The 490-yard par five 12th is a decent birdie chance too, especially if you can take on the line of bunkers across the fairway. If you can’t make the green in two, there is room to leave a simple pitch to setup a birdie opportunity.

Yet another spectacular par three follows. Played from an elevated tee – the highest point on the course with some great views – the tee shot at the 13th is just 156 yards, but there is plenty of trouble with out of bounds and bunkers blocking your path to the putting surface.

A tricky 456-yard par four follows with out of bounds very close to the left side of the green and a well-placed bunker to the right side. It’s no wonder many consider this to be the hardest hole.

The 15th, a risk and reward par four, got our pick for signature hole (see fact file).

The 16th also came close to being named signature hole. At 369 yards, this dog-leg right par four features a difficult drive with three bunkers waiting 200 yards from the tee. Find the fairway here and you’ll be left with a relatively short second shot to a treacherous two-tiered green.

At 392 yards, the 17th features a challenging approach to the green through a narrow entrance. Take your line using the iconic Victorian water tower, but beware of the bunkers which lie 150 yards from the green.

The final hole at South Shields is a cracker. Big hitters may be tempted to get close to the green at this 351-yard par four, but there is all sorts of trouble waiting with gorse, bunkers to the right and out of bounds left and beyond the green. Get the tee shot right and you’ve got a great shot at a closing birdie.


South Shields Golf Club, Hillcrest, Cleadon Hills, South Shields, NE34 8EG
Tel 0191 456 0475
Office 0191 456 8942
Pro Shop 0191 456 0110
Facebook @SouthShieldsGolfClub
Twitter @ssgchonsecy

Green fees
Weekdays £20
Weekends £25
For group and society packages please contact the club

Total distance
White tees 6,295 yards
Yellow tees 6,002 yards
Red tees 5,746 yards

Pro Shop
Buggy and trolley hire
Practice area
Putting green
Locker rooms with changing facilities
Clubhouse with bar, lounge and dining area

Caddy’s tip
A sure putting stroke is essential on these fast greens.

Signature hole
The 279-yard 15th, a fine example of a risk and reward par four, is played in the shadow of the iconic Victorian water tower at South Shields. While short enough to tempt you to have a crack at the green, be very aware of the out of bounds left. There is also a big bunker on the right at about 200 yards. The entrance to the green is very right with two more menacing bunkers. Good luck if you take it on!

Our Verdict
Playing South Shields is a joy – a superb test of golf and extremely pleasing on the eye.