If you’re looking for great conditions despite the winter weather, the linksland of our region’s coast is home to a fine selection of golf courses. Here we pick out a few of our favourites – each highly recommended throughout the year…
Hartlepool Golf Club Hartlepool Golf Club is a true links gem on the Durham coast and remains incredibly popular among those who enjoy a testing seaside layout on the North East coast. The course is a combination of rolling fairways, hillocks and dunes studded with Marram grass, and some of finest views of the North East coast. There have been subtle changes over the years with bunker improvements and new raised tees, but the hand of James Braid, who designed some of the holes, can still be seen – particularly at the signature 10th hole. At just 6,298 yards off the tips, the course isn’t the longest, though there are five par fours measuring more than 400 yards and like many seaside courses, you can be faced with all four seasons in a round.
The signature par four 10th hole is one of James Braid’s best. It may only be 358 yards but a straight drive is required to avoid the rough on the left and four bunkers to the right of the fairway, while the second shot is blind and must be played over a mound between two higher peaks to a large green below. A fantastic golf hole at the heart of a true links test. Hartlepool Golf Club, Hart Warren, Hartlepool, TS24 9QF, tel 01429 274 398, www.hartlepoolgolfclub.co.uk
South Shields Golf Club The coastal layout at South Shields Golf Club brings together elements of heathland and classic links with stunning views out across the North Sea. Founded in 1893, the club remains a popular destination on the Durham coast with its easy walking layout and fine year-round presentation. At 6,295 yards, the course – originally a MacKenzie-Braid design – is short by modern standards but remains a true test, particularly when the wind blows. The views here stretch in all directions – out over the Tyne estuary, north to the Cheviot hills and south over Wearside to the Cleveland Hills. South Shields Golf Club, South Shields, Cleadon Hills, South Shields NE34 8EG, tel 0191 456 8942, www.ssgc.co.uk
Flamborough Head Golf Club Heading a little further south, Flamborough Head offers a year-round treat with this clifftop links course affording breathtaking views out across the North Sea from nearly every hole. Measuring just 6,198 yards, Flamborough is not the longest links course in the region but it is a demanding test. Avoid the rough at all costs, it is deep and will take a great shot to escape from, while the greens are large, undulating and fast in the summer months.
The clubhouse at Flamborough, beside the historic lighthouse, offers stunning views of the golf course and out to the North Sea as well as a warm welcome and great food. Flamborough Head Golf Club, Lighthouse Road, Flamborough, East Riding YO15 1AR. tel 01262 850 333, www.flamboroughheadgolfclub.co.uk
Seahouses Golf Club Home to one of the finest par threes in the UK, if not the world, Seahouses Golf Club has to be on everyone’s must play list. Set on clifftops above the North Sea, the course is a tricky test with a number of demanding tee shots and birdie opportunities on both nines. The 15th is recognised internationally as one of the finest par threes. Played over an inlet with the North Sea crashing below, this 124-yard hole can be anything from a wedge to a long iron depending on the wind and has caught out many good players. Meanwhile, the 10th would make a signature hole on many courses – this 165-yard par three is played over a loch to a green sloping back towards the water. Seahouses Golf Club, Beadnell Road, Seahouses, NE68 7XT, tel 01665 720 794, www.seahousesgolf.co.uk