Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst

Longhirst Hall Golf Course celebrates its 25th birthday this summer. Having opened its doors in 1997, today the club has one of the largest memberships in the region

Longhirst Hall Golf Course has forged a unique place in the region’s golf landscape – and the landscape of Northumberland – since it opened in the summer of 1997.

Shaped from the former Butterwell opencast mine – once the largest manmade hole in Europe – today the club has more than 1,400 members across all categories and has earned a track record of hosting top events, including nine years of EuroPro Tour tournaments.

Long gone are the machines and miners who dug up to 135 metres down into the earth to extract some 13 million tonnes of coal. In their place stand the Dawson and Lakes courses, an academy and clubhouse. 

Construction began in 1995, with director of golf Graham Chambers, then just 28 years old and with no experience in the golf industry, arriving soon after. 

“Thinking back to the scarred landscape we started with and the work that went into handplanting 42,000 saplings in an open space with views across to the A1, where we are today is remarkable,” says Graham. 

“From my first conversations with Longhirst founder Tommy Dawson to today has been both eye-opening and rewarding. The journey – which is far from over – has been filled with challenges, standout events, and the chance to work with so many incredible people. 

“To be trusted to turn Tommy’s vision – to bring the course style and customer service levels of the US to Northumberland while offering a high-quality golf venue for local, working-class people – has been a privilege. We’re now looking forward to what we can achieve in the next 25 years.”

The first 18-hole layout at Longhirst officially opened in 1997 with nothing more than its golf holes, a greenkeeping shed, and a shared space in a cricket and hockey clubhouse. By 2003, 11 new holes were added. In 2008, seven more – which would be combined with 11 from the original 18 – were added to create the Dawson Course. The remaining 18 became the Lakes Course. The clubhouse was also added in 2007, before the academy and its floodlit driving range opened in 2014.

What was once the largest hole in Europe is today home to tens of thousands of golfers each year and one of the region’s most successful golf businesses. 

The Northern Golfer team has enjoyed a fantastic relationship with Longhirst in its first quarter of a century and look forward to seeing what Tommy, Graham and the team bring to the region’s golfing landscape in the next 25 years.