Dean Bailey leaves the city to visit a classic course with some of the region’s best par threes
Stretching far into the distance as you look out from the clubhouse, it’s hard to believe the rolling, tree-lined layout at Durham City Golf Club exists as you make your way to the golf course.
Driving through industrial units and past a couple of cafés, it’s hard to imagine what awaits as you turn down into the car park and catch your first glimpse of the golf course.
It is a classic English golf course, challenging from the tee, well bunkered, with a fantastic set of par threes, which rival any collection of short holes in our region.
The opening hole is a great opportunity to get off to a good start. The fairway runs downhill and is generous at this 557-yard par five. Depending how far you run down the hill, lay up short of the bunker 60 yards from the green or play over it to a large putting surface.
The second and third are more difficult – an uphill par three of 160 yards to a large two-tiered green where a putt back to the front is extremely quick, followed by one of the toughest tee shots on the course. Avoid out of bounds right and thick rough and trees left at this 400-yard par four before playing to a long green guarded by two bunkers.
Things don’t get easier at the fourth, another par four of just over 400 yards with out of bounds right. The line from the tee is the bunker right of the green, leaving an iron to a large, two-tiered green protected by a cavernous bunker right.
The fifth is a tricky par three, played downhill with trees left and a steep run off to the right of the green. A great looking hole – it’s tougher than it looks. The sixth is also a tough, long par four with out of bounds right while the seventh is the pick of the par threes and our signature hole.
Off the course, facilities at Durham City are top-class with an extensive practice ground beside the clubhouse, which is set to be added to with an indoor teaching studio. The menu in the clubhouse is equally good, whether you’re getting a bacon sandwich to go or popping in for the popular fish and chips on Friday or Sunday lunch overlooking the golf course and hills beyond.
Set in thick trees, this downhill 140-yard par three is the prettiest of the short holes at Durham City. Played from an elevated tee, finding the green is key to par as rough, trees and a huge bunker short right await mishit, or misclubbed, shots. The green’s slopes are subtle – a two here is well deserved.
At the eighth, play to the right of the fairway as the ball will run left down the slope. The fairway is generous and a good drive will leave a short shot to a green which slopes right. Played back up the hill, the ninth measures the same as the eighth, 388 yards. The key here is to make it up the hill to have sight of a big green protected by a shallow bunker left.
The tee shots are key at the 10th and 11th, the first an iron to the corner of the dogleg, avoiding out of bounds left before playing to a kidney-shaped green with a steep tier through its centre. At the 11th, a long drive will give you a chance to attack this 530-yard par five with the second shot played downhill to a green guarded by a steep run off back into a ditch at the front. The par four 12th and 13th holes present good birdie chances while the 14th is a short par five at 487 yards with two subtle dog legs.
The final par three, and the most difficult, the green at the 15th is cut into a steep slope which will gather anything left and long back towards the green while sending anything short down the hill. A tier runs through the centre of the green, finding the correct half is key to making par.
The closing stretch at Durham City is a great opportunity to finish in style. Three short par fours, the 16th requires a long iron to the corner of the dogleg before playing to the biggest green on the course – some 40 yards long. At 17, there is a high risk chance to drive the green, but the best option at this 337-yard severely downhill hole is to play to the bottom of the hill before pitching to a green which slopes back to front with a deep bunker left.
At the last, big hitters will like their chances of getting close to the green in firm conditions. At 341 yards, a good drive will leave a pitch to a large green which slopes back to front and is overlooked by the clubhouse balcony.
Green fees Mon-Fri
All day £35, with a member £15
Per round £30, with a member £15
Junior £15, with a member £8
Twilight (after 3pm) £20
Weekends and Bank Holidays
Per round £40, with a member £20
Juniors £20, with a member £10
Twilight (after 3pm) £25
Buggies Per round £20, per day £25
Total distance White tees 6,367 yards
Yellow tees 6,057 yards
Red tees 5,646 yards
Features Large clubhouse with lounge, bar and dining room
Well-stocked professional’s shop
PGA professional tuition
Extensive practice area
Caddy’s tip Though there are a few par fours of more than 400 yards, driver shouldn’t be the go-to here with thick trees and out of bounds in play on many holes