Paul Corney makes the journey north to experience one of Northumberland’s finest golf resorts
Golf course architect Jonathan Gaunt must have rubbed his hands with glee at being given the job of designing the golf course at Linden Hall. Combining a mixture of mature woodland, wonderful countryside, established lakes, ponds and streams, Gaunt has been instrumental in delivering a perfect mix of golf holes that are a real treat to play. Opened in the mid-90s, the course appears a lot more mature than its tender years might suggest.
There are four loops of holes, all starting and finishing near the hall and it’s ideal for those golfers who do not want to play a full 18. At the higher points on the course, players are treated to magnificent views of The Cheviots and the stunning Northumberland countryside. The Linden Hall course starts with a strong, slightly uphill 417-yard par-four, played usually into the prevailing wind. With trees lining both sides of the fairway, the drive is a little intimidating but the fairway does open up around the 150-yard marker. A good drive should leave a medium to long iron to a generous green sloping right to left. Walk off with a par and it’s a good start to your round.
The second is another good par-four and at just under 400 yards. A ditch crosses the fairway at around 265 yards but this only comes into play for the longest of hitters. The second shot is played to an elevated and undulating green protected by two bunkers on the right. The third is the longest hole on the course and a genuine three-shotter for most of us. Try to keep to the left side of the fairway to avoid being blocked out by a tree on the right, 55 yards from the green.
The short fourth is the first of four very attractive par threes on the course. No room for error here, the 159-yard tee shot is over a large pond to a small green surrounded by trees.
Holes five and six are both par fours well over 400 yards. Played from an elevated tee, the drive at the fifth is downhill to a generous landing area with out of bounds to the left and a water hazard on the right. The approach shot should be no more than a mid iron to a green protected by three bunkers. The sixth dog-legs sharply to the right, with a stream crossing the fairway 125 yards from the green. The second shot is played slightly uphill to a green which slopes right to left and falls away to the left.
The par-three seventh is the second gem on the course. Played from another elevated tee, the green is protected by a large pond on the left and surrounded by trees. The last hole on the front nine is a 516-yard par-five back towards the Hall. Two large bunkers left and right come into play from the tee and if avoided, the longer hitters may well have a go for the green in two. Play the second shot to the left side of the fairway to leave a clear pitch to a large green.
The back nine begins with the stroke index one 10th and a dog-leg to the right. With out of bounds to the right and three bunkers protecting the corner of the dog-leg, an accurate drive is required to leave any chance of making this 400-yard par-four in regulation. The signature hole 13th (see factfile) is followed by a 395-yard par-four and a dog-leg right. The fairway is generous for the tee shot, but it does tighten up the closer you get to the green. The third of the par threes is the 15th and well worth adding to your photograph collection. At 173 yards from the back tee, the tee shot is played through a narrow avenue of trees, over another large pond to a receptive green surrounded by trees.
At 530 yards, the 16th is the easiest par-five on the course. A very wide fairway awaits the drive before rising uphill towards the green. Played usually downwind, this hole should be a good birdie chance.The final par-three on the course is next. This 176-yard hole requires a good long iron, over a water hazard to find the large putting surface. With two bunkers on the right and another pond on the left, a par here is a bonus.
If you have a good score running, take care at the final hole or disaster looms – a very tough 429-yard par-four finishing hole with water on the right and trees, gorse and bushes on the left. A long accurate drive is required to reach the corner of the dog-leg to bring the green into view. The approach is then played through large trees and over a stream to a green protected by bunkers left and right.
Finish with a four and you’ll certainly enjoy a pint or two in the Linden Tree Pub.
Contact MacDonald Linden Hall
Golf & Country Club
Longhorsley, nr Morpeth Northumberland, NE65 8XF
Tel (golf) 01670 500 011
Hotel 01670 500 000
GREEN FEES Weekday Adults £50, Juniors £25
Weekends Adults £60, Juniors £30
Full memberships available – £499
Buggies available £25 a round
TOTAL DISTANCE Douglas course
White tees – 6,502 yards
Yellow tees – 6,117 yards
Red tees – 5,530 yards
FEATURES 18-hole parkland course
Driving range and short game practice facility
PGA tuition available
Well stocked shop
Excellent bar and dining facilities
Ample car parking
CADDY’S TIP Make use of the short game facility and practise your chipping and approach play – even the best of players will have difficulty hitting some of the greens in regulation
SIGNATURE HOLE The 556-yard par-five 13th is a classic and a genuine three shotter. A double dog-leg requiring two accurate shots to get within range of a small green protected by water front, left and right. Total commitment is required for the third shot otherwise a watery grave and a bogey or worse will be the end result – a very good test of course management.