Dean Bailey pays a visit to Allendale, and finds some of the best views in Northumberland golf
On paper, the roughly 2,500-yard nine-hole layout at Allendale Golf Club is a pushover. When you’ve walked the course, taken in the spectacular views and tackled the small, bunkerless greens you soon appreciate the special place this course has among the 42 courses in Northumberland.
The clubhouse sits 1,077ft above sea level on the west-facing side of Green Hill, which peaks at 1,374ft. Meanwhile, two holes here – played at the third/12th and 17th will make it into any list of the North East’s best par threes. The third, played steeply downhill, is longer at 187 yards (132 yards on the back nine), while the 17th (played as a tricky 308-yard dogleg par four on the front nine) is aptly named Grand Canyon and received our pick for signature hole.
Starting beside the clubhouse, the first is one of the toughest holes on the course. A 413-yard par four from the back tees, out of bounds hugs the left side of the fairway where you’ll also find a hazard. There is however room to the right and a good drive should leave a long or mid iron to a small green. Beware the deep run off to the front of the green – the ball will fall to the right and leave a tricky uphill pitch to a small bunkerless green.
The second is a short par three of just 123 yards, while shorter still when played as the 89-yard 11th. Played blind with just the top of the flag in view, the green here is small and you’ll find thick rough and steep runoffs to the right and rear of the green, while a steep rise to the front edge of the green will catch any approaches that come up short.
The third tee offers stunning views of the valley with the green sitting well below you at the foot of the hill. Played as a 187-yard par three, the hole can play up to four clubs less than its yardage and picking the correct club is key as the green is the only flat part of the hole. Beware landing short as a firm, steep slope in the fairway will fire the ball over the green into thick rough – or worse still down the hill leaving a 50-yard uphill pitch.
With stroke indexes of four and three on the front and back nines respectively, the fourth is a challenging par four of nearly 400 yards, while the 13th reaches just more than 400 yards. A confident drive is needed to hit the right side of the sloping fairway as a line of five trees flank the right side. The play here is over the trees and into the flatter, more generous part of the fairway to leave an approach of around 100 yards and a good view of the green. This is a good birdie chance should you know the route and read a subtly sloping green well. When playing the longer 13th, again try to find the wider, flatter part of the fairway.
The fifth/14th is a chance to get the driver out and reach the green of a par four. Just 236 yards from the back tees on both nines, the fairway rises to a plateau green, which is flanked by two trees. Those laying up must be straight, those trees make near-impassable obstacles in the summer months.
The par five sixth features the toughest tee shot on the course. The fairway slopes steeply left to right and you want to stay as high on the slope as possible to avoid the three trees on the right, and have a chance to get close to the green in two. The approach is also played to a severely sloping fairway while the green is cut into the hill with thick rough left and a run off to the front and right sides. On the back nine, the hole is the toughest on the course and you must play as far left as possible again. Long hitters should be able to get a good view of the green for their approach.
The seventh and 16th are two excellent birdie, or even eagle, chances should you take on the green. These 249-yard par fours invite a drive to the green with a generous fairway – though beware the right side of the green where a hazard lurks within just five paces of the putting surface. If laying up, you must get within 80 yards of the green as anything shorter will fall into a valley and leave a difficult approach with no view of the putting surface.
While the 17th got our pick for the signature hole, its front nine counterpart is one of the standout par fours at Allendale. A 308-yard dogleg left, it presents the tightest tee shot on the course, between tall trees and a hazard left, and a new copse of young trees on the right side. You must reach the corner of the dogleg to have a good view of a circular, relatively flat green.
The last of the nine holes at Allendale is a straight away par three of 149 yards with the green sitting in front of the clubhouse. The key here is to play over the course’s only bunker, which lies some 30 yards short of the putting surface. When played as the 18th, the 219-yard par four is a good birdie chance when played properly – though out of bounds is in play to the left side while the bunker short of the green can catch many players out.
OUR VERDICT If you haven’t played here before, you have to pay a visit.
FACT FILE Contact Allendale Golf Club
High Studdon, Allendale, NE47 9DH
Tel 07005 808 246
Green fees Adults – £18 a day
Juniors – £5 a day
Groups by arrangement
Total distance White tees 4,681 yards, par 67
Yellow tees 4,501 yards, par 66
Red tees 4,369 yards, par 68
Features Putting green
Bar and catering available daily from 10am
Caddy’s tip Consider leaving the driver in the bag here – accuracy is key.
Signature hole The 17th at Allendale is one of standout par threes in Northumberland. Called Grand Canyon, the approach to the green is over a ravine, which is out of bounds, and is played between tall trees on the opposite side. The key here it to take enough club to clear the ravine while hitting the ball high enough to stop it on a generous, circular green. The view to the left of the tee box is stunning.