Dean Bailey heads into the Northumberland countryside to play Longhirst Hall’s Dawson course
In a little more than 22 years, Longhirst Hall Golf Club has been transformed from an opencast mine into one of Northumberland’s best golf destinations.
Now the site of two courses, the Dawson and the Lakes, the club founded by Ashington businessman Tommy Dawson has become a complete golf resort of the highest quality.
The Lakes and Dawson courses have both hosted the EuroPro Tour in recent years and both promise to test the very best golfers. Water is less prominent on the par 73 Dawson layout, though the strategic test is arguably greater given the smaller greens and the number of holes which require two or three very accurate shots to navigate them successfully.
The opening three holes are a key place to build a good score. A short opening par five of 487 yards requires less than driver from the tee for most. From here the fairway is generous and the green is guarded by a single bunker in the front right corner and a pond on the left side beyond the green. Lay up to your preferred pitching distance and look to make birdie here. A short par four of just 324 yards from the white tees follows – the bigger hitters can leave a short approach and look to make birdie here. A par three of 169 yards, the third has a small, flat green and there are no bunkers here.
A good start comes in very handy as the fourth and fifth holes are two of the most difficult par fours at Longhirst. At the 404-yard fourth, your drive must take on the pond on the right half of the fairway some 230 yards from the tee to leave a good angle to the green. Those that bail out left, away from the out of bounds on the right of the fairway, face a long approach to a green which slopes from back to front.
Turning 180 degrees, the fifth got our pick for signature hole (see fact file).
The 510-yard par five sixth is in reach in two for some of the big hitters should they avoid the bunker on the right side of the fairway around 240 yards from the tee. From here the route to the green in unobstructed, just stay out of the bunker on the front right corner of the green and a birdie chance is yours.
The 400-yard seventh follows and a good drive will leave an unobstructed route to a small green set above the approach. At the par four eighth, picking a point to cut the dogleg is essential if you hit driver. Those who lay well back will face a tough approach to a narrow green.
A par five of 573 yards leads you into the turn. A real three shotter, water is in play for each shot and a cautious approach is advised. Favour the left side from the tee to leave a second shot over the corner of the lake. From here it’s a narrow entrance to the green with water on both sides.
The 317-yard 10th offers a little respite. Lay up in the widest part of the fairway from the tee to avoid running out into the lake to the left of the green. A short approach to a relatively flat green can yield a birdie putt. Another birdie opportunity follows at the short par five 11th – just get your drive past the lake on the left and it’s a straight run to a green which welcomes shots running up towards it.
The easiest of the par threes, the 12th, is just 161 yards. Avoid the bunker on the right – it’s tough to get up and down from in there.
Three tough par fours right in the middle of the back nine have ruined many good scores. The 371-yard 13th requires an accurate tee shot down to the bridge. You’ll want to get as far down as possible as the uphill approach is long, and the front of the green slopes steeply away from the putting surface.
The 414-yard par four 14th offers plenty of room from the tee, and you’ll need a big drive to have a chance to getting up to the green. The best line to the green, avoiding the single bunker on the front right corner of the putting surface, is from the left of the fairway. The 379-yard 15th finishes the tough stretch. Big hitters can cut the corner of the dogleg by taking on the bunker, shortening the approach to a small green with a single bunker on the front right corner.
Many good scores here start with the opening three holes and are wrapped up with the final three. At 190 yards, the 16th is a straightforward par three – as long as you make the carry to the green. Anything short will leave an uphill pitch or risk finding a bunker cut deceptively short of the front right corner of the green. Meanwhile, the 364-yard par four 17th is a good birdie chance with room from the tee and a generous green.
On to the last, a 386-yard par four which turns from left to right. Plot your course around the corner here – some can take on the bunker and shorten the hole while most play left and tackle the long approach, which is played downhill to a green which features a bunker across much of its front edge.
Contact Longhirst Hall Golf Club Longhirst, Morpeth, NE61 3LL Tel 01670 791 562 www.longhirstgolf.co.uk Facebook @LonghirstHallGolfCourse Twitter @longhirstgolf Instagram @longhirstgolf
Green fees Booking is available online through longhirst-hall-dawson.play.teeitup.com A range of packages are available for groups, societies and golf days, please contact the club for more information
Total distance White tees – 6,713 yards Yellow tees – 6,446 yards Red tees – 5,607 yards
Features Two golf courses – Dawson and Lakes Buggy and trolley hire Covered, floodlit driving range Short game practice area Putting green Pro shop Changing facilities Clubhouse with bar and dining area
Caddy’s tip A good round with the driver will unlock good scores here – the on-site driving range is a perfect spot to warm up before your round.
Signature hole The 394-yard par four fifth hole requires a confident tee shot. Being brave, hitting driver into the narrowest part of the fairway and getting close to the hazard on the right side of the fairway gives the best chance of hitting the near-island green in two. Approaches from too far back or from behind the trees on the left side are almost impossible. The small green has water around 90% of it – good luck!
OUR VERDICT An all-round resort of the highest quality, Longhirst Hall provides everything we want in a golf club.