Parkland golf at its best

Dean Bailey heads to the south of the region to play Thirsk & Northallerton Golf Club

Despite being more than 100 years old and home to one of North Yorkshire’s finest parkland layouts, Thirsk & Northallerton Golf Club is continuing to build on its reputation year-on-year.

Few clubs have made as much progress with their course as Thirsk & Northallerton has in the last two years. Much of the work may no longer be visible – miles of new drainage added to the oldest parts of the golf course in October 2018 – but the benefits are clear.

Investment in new machinery and growing the full-time greenstaff to six are all providing improvements on the golf course.

Laid out in 1914 as a nine-hole course before being re-routed to make an 18-hole layout, the course is designed to completely test of your abilities from tee to green. A number of generous fairways allow you to let loose with driver before requiring an accurate approach. Meanwhile, narrower tee shots through corridors of ancient trees reward those who find the fairway with angles to attack pins. While 6,564 yards from the back tees, taking out driver often brings with it a great deal of risk and reward as tress and greater penalties lie in wait for those who stray too far.

The 400-yard par four first is a tough opener, which requires a long tee shot to leave a mid or long iron into a small green which is narrower in the back half. The second, a 515-yard par five, also requires a long tee shot to leave a good view of the approach down to a stream which crosses the fairway around 70 yards from the green. Leave as short an approach as possible here into one of the smallest greens on the course.

The 163-yard third is a great looking par three from the tee with three bunkers all cut below the putting surface while the short par four fourth, just 384 yards, is a good chance for birdie should you take your tee shot over the tree guarding the right side of the fairway while avoiding the penalty area which runs up the right side.

The fifth and sixth holes, a 531-yard par five and a 457-yard dogleg right par four, are both played to generous fairways and big drives are rewarded with easier approaches to two of the most difficult greens on the course.

Heading towards the turn, the par four seventh and ninth holes are both good birdie chances at roughly 350 yards, if you find the fairways. The par three eighth measures 208 yards and is the toughest of this three-hole stretch – watch out for the pond short right, which has a knack of catching anything which lands short of the green.

At the 150-yard par three 10th, beware the tree on the left side en-route to the green. You will need a draw around it to get close to any pin on the left side. The green is one of the trickiest on the course.

The short par five 11th can be a card-wrecker, despite measuring less than 500 yards. The tee shot is played blind to a generous fairway flanked by out of bounds right and tall conifers on the left. The hole gets narrower as you head towards the green, where you must lay up short of the burn which crosses in front of the green. A short pitch to a bunkerless green can yield a birdie chance should you reach the right spot in the fairway in two.

The short par four 12th is also a great birdie chance at just 321 yards. The fairway is generous should you take on the tee shot over three fairway bunkers on the right side. Another bunker on the front right corner of the green and a huge bunker to the left side must be avoided.

The 551-yard 13th is the only par five without water here and you should try and take advantage of the downhill tee shot to a wide fairway. The best line is to the right side, from which the ball will run into the centre of the fairway. From here you can sling a wood around the corner to the green or head towards the left side of the second dogleg to leave an uphill wedge shot to a green which slopes from back to front. The bunker to the left catches anything towards the left side of the green and leaves a tough bunker shot.

The straightaway par four 14th is 382 yards and requires a solid drive through a corridor of trees to leave as short an approach as possible uphill to the green, particularly when the flag is on the right side, bringing the bunker cut below the green and guarding the right half of the putting surface into play.

The 15th, signature 16th (see fact file) and 17th are a tough trio of par fours. At the 407-yard 15th, the tee shot is again the key. Played through a narrow corridor of trees it must find the left side of the sloping fairway to avoid running into the tress on the right. At the slightly shorter 17th, the tee shot must favour the right half of the fairway with out of bounds left. From here you are faced with a shorter approach around the dogleg to a two-tier green guarded by two bunkers on the left side.

Played in front of the clubhouse, the 182-yard par three 18th is a challenging final shot, played uphill and often back into the wind. A generous green awaits a good shot while two bunkers on the front edge will catch any mistruck shots.


Thirsk and Northallerton Golf Club Thornton le Street, Thirsk
North Yorkshire, YO7 4AB
tel 01845 525 115
Facebook @thirskandnorthallertongolfclub
Instagram @tngcgolf
Twitter @tngcgolf

Green fees
Weekday £30
Weekend £36
For more information, including group bookings, contact the secretary

Total distance
6,564 yards (white tees)
6,314 yards (yellow tees)
5.600 yards (red tees)

Practice area
Pro shop
Clubhouse bar and catering
Buggy/trolley hire

Caddy’s tip
Manoeuvring the ball and plotting your way through the ancient trees from the tee is a big advantage. Be careful with club selection into the greens – many of them feature several distinct plateaus.

Signature hole
The short par four 16th, just 330 yards, is far tougher than its yardage suggests. A huge tree sits in the centre of the fairway while more timber flanks each side of the route to the green. Your tee shot must head down the right side, towards a pond, to leave a view of the green around the tree. From here a short iron is played over the pond and stream to the green, where a left pin is often accessible while a right pin is incredibly tough to get close to as you play over a bunker to the smallest part of the green with steep slopes running away in every direction.

A fine parkland layout which requires strong course management and the ability to hit 18 different tee shots – from long drives to accurate long irons. The course is great fun to play while very challenging for good players from the back tees.