Dean Bailey heads back to an old favourite and remembers why he enjoys heading along the A69 to Hexham Golf Club so much
Head west from the Northern Golfer office for about 15 minutes and you’ll find one of the finest English golf clubs, and a course which has changed little in its 125 years but delivers every time you visit.
Hexham Golf Club has stood the test of time, with a course dating back to 1892 which remains a host of county and national events, and is home to some of our region’s best golfers.
It’s no surprise Hexham has produced so many good players, it’s tall trees ensuring youngsters learn to drive the ball straight while tough bunkering and big, undulating greens teach players the power of accuracy and good putting.
Head up the hill from the impressive clubhouse to the first tee and you’re introduced to what Hexham is all about. Tall trees and out of bounds wait left at this 503-yard dogleg left par five played from an elevated tee. A long drive is required to reach the top of the hill and give you sight of the landing area and green. A big green is protected by two bunkers cut below the surface. A simple par five – if you play it sensibly.
The second and third holes are sterner tests. The uphill par three second measures 167 yards and plays a club longer than its yardage while the dogleg left third is 406 yards and requires a tactical approach. Play an iron to the fairway, left of two fairway bunkers to leave a long, uphill second shot.
Two bunkers protect the par three fourth and anything short right risks being fed into the larger to the two.
Par fours of around 390 yards-plus are the main defence of the course, there are seven in total, and the first of them comes at the fifth. Avoid the fairway bunkers left and a good drive will run down the hill to leave a simple approach to a large, two-tiered green with a bunker in the front right corner.
The sixth has earned its stroke index one billing with a slight dogleg left making the tee shot at this 457-yard par four tough. Two more bunkers protect the front of a large green making a long approach difficult.
Three more par fours finish the front nine. Avoid out of bounds right at the seventh and you should be left with a mid-iron to a smaller green, while a long drive is required at the 434-yard eighth hole to ensure you can find the right portion of a green measuring 42 paces from front to back. The relatively short, 349-yard ninth is a welcome birdie chance should you avoid three bunkers right of the fairway and another some 40 yards short of the right side of the green. An iron to the fairway at this uphill par four is sensible and should yield a good birdie chance.
The par three 10th got our pick for signature hole (see fact file).
Heading into the back nine, the tree-lined fairways remain a key feature. The 11th is a short par five of 493 yards and offers a good birdie chance should you put the ball in position and avoid the two fairway bunkers 80 and 40 yards short of the green.
A birdie will come in handy as you reach the 435-yard par four 12, which plays uphill from the tee before turning right and heading downhill to a tiered green with two front bunkers. The short par three 13th follows where the key is carrying the bunker at the front right corner of the green.
The 14th and 15th are fantastic driving holes. At 14, a generous fairway sweeps left before narrowing at around 260 yards while the par five 15th is guarded by out of bounds right and requires a draw around tall trees to find the fairway. The green can be in reach in two, though the second is a much narrower shot to a green above the fairway with a cross bunker 70 yards short.
Heading for home, the 16th is the shortest par three at 120 yards – though two huge bunkers must be avoided at the front and left sides, while the par four 17th requires a long, left to right drive to make reaching the green easier at another 400-yard par four.
The last is a final birdie chance at 345 yards from an elevated tee to a generous fairway. The green is large and a bunker at its front edge is a magnet for any short approaches.
Hexham remains a tough test thanks to its long par fours, though a number of scoring opportunities are open to those with a sharp short game. A test you can’t help coming back for year-on-year.
FACT FILE Contact Hexham Golf Club, Spital Park, Hexham NE46 3RZ, tel 01434 603 072
Green fees Mon-Fri £30 Sun £40 Juniors £15 Buggy hire £20
Total distance White tees 6,312 Yellow tees 6,017 Red tees 5,799
Features Stunning clubhouse with lounge, bar and dining room Locker rooms and changing facilities Pro shop and PGA tuition Practice ground Short game practice facility Putting green
Caddy’s tip With seven par fours of more than 390 yards, driving accuracy is key to scoring at Hexham and opens up many opportunities. Beware, a wild driver is often severely punished
Signature hole The 10th at Hexham is a spectacular par three with views out across the Northumberland countryside. Played over a valley and slightly downhill to a large, round green you must make the carry to the front edge of this 190-yard hole or risk a blind pitch up to the putting surface. At the green, a tree protects the right side while a bunker will catch anything short and left. A great par three and a fitting signature hole