Dean Bailey makes the journey north to experience one of Northumberland’s best resort courses
When you walk through the ancient woods around Linden Hall, passing streams and lakes while taking in views of The Cheviots and Northumberland countryside, its no surprise Linden Hall remains a fine example of golf in Northumberland.
Jonathan Gaunt’s 6,846-yard design makes fantastic use of the landscape, weaving through the woodland in four loops returning to the hotel – each capturing the views across the course and beyond while demanding a combination of driving distance and accuracy to navigate complex fairway bunkering before heading to well-defended greens which, while generous, require accurate approaches.
The opening stretch heads uphill to later reveal some of the finest views on the course. At the 417-yard par four first, favour the right side to avoid the single fairway bunker and hazard bordering the left side of the hole. An uphill approach must navigate three large bunkers circling the green as well as steep mounding – a recurring theme of the green complexes here – to find a small green.
The uphill second, measuring 397 yards from the back tee, requires accuracy from the tee – water again looms left while a stream crosses the fairway some 130 yards from the green, which features a deep bunker front right and another hidden just beyond it on the right side.
At the par five third, left is best. Play between the fairway bunkers before laying up to the left side of the fairway to avoid a huge fairway bunker to the right side and leave an unobstructed pitch to a long green which slopes back to front with no bunkers. Any approaches from the right side must navigate a tall tree in the fairway – turning a simple approach into a much trickier prospect.
Each of the par threes here could take the title of signature hole and the fourth is a fine short hole of 159 yards played over a pond to a large green surrounded by woodland.
The 423-yard fifth follows with water again in play on the right side of a generous fairway at this left to right dogleg. The green features two distinct sections at the front and back with two bunkers cut below the surface at the front edge and another to the left side of the green.
At the 440-yard sixth, the tee shot must reach the middle of the left to right dogleg and avoid the hazard on the left side to leave an unobstructed route to the green with a long iron. The green is one of the finest here with a bunker some 10 yards short on the left side, a deep bunker to the right side and fantastic mounding circling the putting surface, which is wider in the back half.
Another stunning par three, the seventh got our pick for signature hole (see fact file).
Heading toward the turn, the short uphill par four eighth measures 289 yards and is a great birdie chance should you avoid the three fairway bunkers and three greenside bunkers en-route to the putting surface. The ninth can stretch to 516 yards and this par five requires a long drive to a generous fairway flanked with a pair of fairway bunkers. Finding the fairway is key to be able to play your second shot into the widest part of the fairway to leave an unobstructed view of the green. Any approaches which are short or too far right will be blocked out by the trees.
The dogleg par four 10th requires a confident drive to the corner with bunkers on the left and right sides of the dogleg in play from the tee. From here, the green sits slightly above the fairway with thick woods flanking a green complex which features more mounding and two deep bunkers.
Solid driving is key in this section of the golf course with large bunkers and thick woods flanking the fairways of the 398-yard 11th, 388-yard 12th and 556-yard par five 13th, which is the pick of the stretch with a tricky tee shot between two deep bunkers leaving an approach to the left of a copse of trees before a short iron must find one of the smallest greens on the course, with a water hazard circling the front, left and right sides of the green.
The final loop at Linden opens with a long left to right dogleg. Play to the left side of the fairway here to leave a view straight up the gap between two banks of trees to a small green guarded by a single bunker on the left side.
Another stunning par three, surrounded by woodland with water at the front edge, follows at the 15th before the 530-yard par five 16th – a real three-shotter with seven bunkers and an uphill approach to the green.
The 176-yard 17th completes the set of spectacular short holes. Played uphill, a stream weaves in front of a wide green while two bunkers on the right side sits above a green which slopes back to front.
The last is more than 400 yards from the back tee and strategy is key. Play to the left side, away from the lake on the right, to leave an approach to the green. Anything on the right side of the fairway must be played over two tall trees to a small green with two front bunkers.
MacDonald Linden Hall
Golf & Country Club
Longhorsley, nr Morpeth Northumberland, NE65 8XF
Tel 01670 500 000
Please see website for details on green fees, society bookings and membership
Blue tees – 6,846 yards
White tees – 6,502 yards
Yellow tees – 6,117 yards
Red tees – 5,530 yards
Driving range and short game practice facility
Pub, restaurant and spa on-site
Course management is key to scoring at Linden Hall, reaching the corners of doglegs and avoiding the fairway bunkers will allow you to access the greens from the best angles.
The seventh may seem simple enough at just 165 yards but this downhill par three requires a well struck approach to find a narrow green beyond a lake with a steep slope to the right side. There are no bunkers here but there is also no miss – the green is the only safe spot!
A fine example of parkland golf with woodland, lakes and great views, Linden is always a pleasure to play.