Links at its best

If you do like to golf beside the seaside Paul Corney discovers a great course to play

Over the years I’ve heard many comments made about Newbiggin Golf Club, some good and some not so good but on coming off the course, I can honestly say I am impressed and surprised at the quality of what was on offer – Newbiggin is a very fine course.

Designed by Willie Park Junior, the layout has stood the test of time and has hosted many county events, including the recent Dixon Cup, an elite scratch stroke play event which brings together the winners of the Hadrian League, North Northumberland League, Newcastle and District League, North Durham Union and the Teesside and District League.

Newbiggin is never going to be recognised as a Turnberry or Troon but I will say that the front nine holes are a treat to play – benefitting from the undulating land and offering spectacular views.

The second half of the round is played over flatter ground, which at times resembles moorland but surprisingly, retains a links quality.

There are two double greens where finding the wrong section will leave monster putts and the danger of three-putting or worse – these undulating surfaces are very good – quick and true requiring a solid putting stroke.

Although the course measures over 6,800 yards off the back tees, and is a serious test of golf, it doesn’t play its yardage thanks to the fast running fairways and just two par threes.

And of course, there is the wind to contend with. Most days you will be subjected to sea breezes which affect the flight and roll of the ball, so having the ability to hit low shots is an advantage.


Caddy’s tip
Take some time to practice your chip and run shots. There are lots of banks and slopes that can be used to gather the ball towards the hole, so rather than opting for a wedge, keep the ball low and let it run

The first and second provide a gentle introduction to the course before the challenging third. At 429 yards off the back tees, there is out of bounds on the right and the elevated green requires accurate club selection.

Measuring only 278 yards, the fourth is drivable for the longer hitters but a lay up and a short pitch is probably the best option to secure a birdie putt.

The drive at the 448-yard par-four fifth is demanding while the long approach is played to a semi-blind green where you can only see the top of the flag – club selection is all important again.


Signature hole
The signature hole at Newbiggin has to be the sixth. Not a long par four but it requires a lot of thought and has to be played a few times to work out your strategy. The green is set in a deep bowl – this one makes you realise what links golf is all about

Following the signature hole sixth, there are three shortish par fours where you can really get stuck in to try and put a good card together. The seventh measures 375 yards and slightly dog-legs to the right before a tricky approach to a green with a lot of gorse-like bushes close to the back – you don’t want to be long here.

The eighth measures 370 yards with well-placed fairway bunkers which have to be avoided and the final hole on the front nine is a solid 372 yarder, where you will have a blind approach if you favour the right side of the fairway.

Although the back nine is considerably shorter, the course still has to be respected and demands your full concentration. The 10th and 11th are both strong par fours and strokes three and one respectively on the card. Next is the first of only two par threes, and at 214 yards off the back tees, this one is a real tough proposition, especially if played into a head wind.

The 13th is a shortish par four with out of bounds along the right side. A good drive to the centre of the fairway and a wedge to the centre of the target should result in a birdie chance.

Next up is a 514-yard par-five played back towards the sea. There is a ditch to watch out for, half way along the hole which traverses the fairway at an angle but two sensible shots and a short pitch should leave another good chance of making birdie.

Following a relatively simple par three, the final hole at Newbiggin is a 396-yard par-four with out of bounds on the right and a green which slopes back to front – try to keep your approach shot below the hole to leave an uphill putt.

After your round you can relax in the friendly clubhouse, enjoy good food, drink and reflect on a challenging but very enjoyable round of golf.

Paul Corney’s verdict
Newbiggin is a very fine test of seaside golf and well worth a visit. I was brought up playing links golf on the Ayrshire coastline and this course is as good as most – it’s fun to play and trust me, you won’t be disappointed