Alan Hedley enjoys a visit to one of our region’s most picturesque parkland courses
Dinsdale Spa is probably one of those courses you’ve always promised you’ll play but you’ve never quite gotten round to it.
Do yourself a favour and do it, because it’s one of the most enjoyable tests of golf you’ll find in the North East with views too.
It’s not long at just under 6,500 yards, but it has three interesting par fives, three tricky par threes and some very demanding par fours.
The 474-yard first hole is one of those par fives and it’s reachable in two, but you’ll need to find the left centre of the fairway off the tee to have a chance of getting to the tiered green with your second.
The second is the first of the par threes and at 217 yards and well-bunkered, it’s tough, but not as tough as the third – a 452-yard par four which demands two big shots, plus avoiding a ditch to make it to another tiered green.
There’s little respite with a 454-yard par four to follow and a green noted for its speed.
The next is called Road Hole and there are similarities with its more famous St Andrews namesake. At 354 yards it’s a tough drive with trees – rather than a hotel – obstructing the ‘Tiger line’ and the green is narrow and guarded on both sides by bunkers.
A 334-yard dog-leg right par four which is in reach for the big hitters follows. It is risk or reward if you go at the green while a lay up leaves just a short iron to the green.
Named Dragon’s Lair, it may be only 159 yards, but the seventh is rightly judged to be Dinsdale’s signature hole. It’s a real beauty viewed from the tee and you’ll be relieved to find the green as steep bunkers left and right are a difficult test.
The eighth is no pushover with a drive across a ravine plus a tricky green with a narrow approach and steep slopes. Again, possibly tempting to the big hitter but a high risk shot.
The ninth is a short par five at 510 yards but with out of bounds left and bunkers right it deserves respect.
You can then have a go at the 263-yard 10th, but beware of the ditch and a well-bunkered tiered green with many subtle borrows.
The 11th is a 173-yard par three and you need to trust your club selection here as it can be hard to judge the flag. It’s followed by another long par four of 460 yards where most are delighted to walk off with a par.
On to 13, another 400-yard-plus hole, and there’s another ditch menacing the second shot to a well-bunkered, undulating green.
The course was reconfigured in 2006 with the introduction of two new holes on the front nine, which has created an excellent 6,462 yard par 72 layout with a fine clubhouse.
One prominent feature at Dinsdale is the extensive, well maintained practice area complete with two covered driving bays, which provides the opportunity to hone your game.
It also provides excellent teaching facilities for the professionals headed up by James Hare.
The club also has very active ladies and junior sections which will extend a friendly welcome to any new members and with such a strong Ladies section the club is able to support club mixed competitions throughout the year
The 365-yard 14th also has an undulating green demanding accuracy both off the tee and with the approach.
The 15th is a good-looking par five of 483 yards and is reachable in two, but they’ll have to be two pretty good hits to avoid the pond near the green.
The finishing three holes are by no means frightening, but they are not to be taken lightly with a shortish 314-yard par four which holds no real terrors if you avoid the bunkers.
Seventeen is a test as it’s a 379-yard dog-leg to the right where the focus is on the drive and the fairway narrows as you approach to the green.
It’s also a shortish par four of 331 yards to finish, but it’s a nice-looking hole where a good drive will leave as little as a wedge to a generous green.
OUR VERDICT Don’t miss out on what is an excellent day’s golf