White tees 6,341 yards (Par 71) Yellow tees 5,966 yards (Par 71) Red tees 5,725 yards (Par 73)
- Welcoming clubhouse with superb food particularly the burgers - Pro shop - Buggy hire - Trolley hire - Large practice area with grass tee and mats, and putting green
Dean Bailey pays a visit to the Harry Vardon-designed course at Morpeth Golf Club
Golfers in and around Morpeth are blessed with some of Northumberland’s best golf courses on their doorstep. While links enthusiasts head to the coast and those who enjoy modern design head to new courses, those who relish the traditional English parkland style head to Morpeth Golf Club.
Designed by six-time Open champion Harry Vardon, who picked some fascinating pieces of ground to layout his golf courses in our region, today the course presents an exacting test of ball striking with its tree-lined fairways leading to a set of 18 unique greens.
Lengthened in recent years to a total of 6,341 yards from the white tees, continued refinements ensure the course stands up to the modern game.
Measuring just 253 yards, the first is a good place to pick up an early birdie, but be warned, the overly aggressive can tangle with the out of bounds lines, which border both sides of the fairway. Instead, lay up short of the two bunkers on the right and leave a 90-yard pitch to one of the smallest greens on the course.
Having crossed the bridlepath, the 400-yard-plus second provides a stern test. The fairway is generous between the trees and the green is guarded by two bunkers cut well short of the putting surface, from which bogeys are almost unavoidable.
One great shot is required at the par five third. Those who hit driver must beware the penalty area to the left side, which the fairway feeds towards. Those who play short must hit a long second shot to get a look at the green, while those who manage to hit the narrow right side from the tee can be aggressive and leave a short approach over four deep bunkers which guard a long, reverse-P-shaped green.
Tee shots at the 190-yard fourth must carry a deceptively short bunker while navigating between a pair of greenside traps to find a safe spot on a generous putting surface.
The rolling hills of the 454-yard par four fifth present a real test. There’s a bunker hidden by the hill on the right side of the landing area 200 yards from the green, and you must challenge this to leave a manageable second shot. The green is generous and has no bunkers, but steer clear of the slope leading to a penalty area on the left.
Another brilliantly contoured hole follows at the par five sixth. Tee shots directly over the marker post on the brow of the hill will find another generous fairway flanked by tall trees with out of bounds right, and give a view down to the green. Those taking aim at the green in two must avoid a narrow trench some 60 yards short of the green. Beyond this lie two bunkers which pinch the front third of a wide green.
The 391-yard seventh hole can yield birdies to those who make the most of this wide fairway and stay clear of the fairway bunker on the left. Three bunkers on the right side en-route to the green, including one set well short, can cause trouble for those who approach from too far back.
The par three eighth is just 156 yards but can cause problems as the wind tends to swirl among the trees. The cavernous bunkers on both sides of the raised green are card-wreckers.
The straightaway par four ninth can be stretched to 425 yards and those who tangle with the trees will find themselves in trouble. The green is large and designed to welcome shots hit with long irons or fairway woods.
At the 587-yard par five 10th, caution is advised with out of bounds posts on the right and a bunker waiting for those who bail out left. The boundary is close by en-route to the green too, though the fairway is generous when you play short of the two bunkers around 120 yards from the green. Steer well clear of the deep bunker on the left of the green and you should escape with a par.
Players who hit driver up and over the hill at the 376-yard 11th hole can be richly rewarded with a run down the slope and a wedge shot to a well-guarded, two-tier green featuring three steeply faced bunkers.
The relatively short par four 12th can be played in two ways – either lay up short of the bunker some 140 yards from the green on the right to leave a long approach over a pair of daunting greenside bunkers, or shape a drive around the trees into the wider section of the fairway and leave a much simpler wedge shot in.
At 312 yards, the 13th should be one of the simplest par fours at Morpeth, and it would be if it weren’t played up a near-vertical slope. A long iron to the the foot of the hill gives you the opportunity to play your approach with some air in your lungs before climbing the hill to the green, which features a cruelly positioned bunker some 15 yards short on the left and two more at the front right and back left corners.
Played back down the hill, the 14th got our pick for signature hole.
Having made it to the top of the hill, take a moment to enjoy the view from the 14th tee… and catch your breath. A spectacular downhill par three, this 184-yard hole plays a lot shorter than its yardage and can be particularly tricky when the wind blows across the hillside. The bunkers on the right side are popular landing spots, while shots which carry beyond these are rewarded with a simple chip or a chance for a birdie two
A pair of incredibly tight driving holes featuring well-bunkered greens follow. You must have a straight look at both greens to have an unobstructed route. At the 16th, lay up short of the two bunkers on the left around 60 yards short of the green as beyond these lies a penalty area.
Making the carry to the green at the 151-yard par three 17th is essential with a burn and deep bunker short. A further three bunkers complete a ring of traps which guard one of the most undulating greens on the course.
The near-400-yard 18th is the stuff of nightmares. An enormous fairway should be easy to find, but out of bounds on both sides can cause havoc on the final tee shot of the round. The hole turns gently to the right with a deep bunker on the left corner some 30 yards short of a large green surrounded by trees which can be very tough to find from the right half of the fairway.
While the fairways are generous, they’re bordered by tall trees – and worse – so those who spray the ball with driver should play cautiously from the tee
Harry Vardon’s golf courses in our region are a treat and Morpeth’s tree-lined fairways laid out across a great piece of land make it one of the best