Alan Hedley heads to Co Durham for a round at Beamish Park Golf Club
The North is blessed with a number of classic English parkland courses and Beamish Park is surely one of our finest examples.
Designed by Sir Henry Cotton, the original nine-hole layout at Eden Hill opened in 1907. The club led a fairly nomadic existence in those early days with nine hole courses at No Place, then behind the Shepherd and Shepherdess pub, before moving to the Deer Park in 1927.
Deer wandered throughout the course – as they do today – and the course was extended to 12 holes in the 1930s by professional Bill Woodend. The Second World War saw the club dissolved, but in February 1948 it was reformed at Beamish Hall. When the hall was taken over by the National Coal Board in 1955, the club moved into a pavilion near Beamish Burn and the course became 16 holes.
The big breakthrough came in 1963 with 65 acres rented from the NCB and construction of an 18-hole course based on a design by Henry Cotton. A new clubhouse came 10 years later, extended in 1982 to produce one of the best 19th holes in the region. The journey was completed in 1989 when the club bought the course.
Progress has been steady thereafter and the course is one to return to regularly given its quality and the warm welcome.
At just under 6,200 yards, the challenge here is plotting your way through the parkland and woodland, with several changes of elevation providing truly spectacular views.
The opening par five may seem easy at just over 500 yards, but it demands an accurate drive to a sloping fairway. Don’t go left here, and avoid the ditch and a big tree to the right side if you’re aiming to reach the green with your second shot. If not, a steady shot will leave a wedge into the narrow green.
The second also requires a decent tee shot, back over the ditch, while your approach to the elevated green has to be spot on. The par three third is tough, played close to 200 yards to a well-bunkered, narrow green.
At close to 450 yards, you must find the fairway at the fourth and be long enough to have a chance of carrying the ravine in front of the green with your approach.
The same ravine menaces the drive at the par five fifth, but get to the crest of the hill and it’s downhill to the green – a good chance for birdie.
The sixth is all about the second shot, which is played to a raised green, while the stunning seventh offers a fairly comfortable downhill approach.
The eighth measures just over 300 yards and may tempt the big hitters to have a go at the green, but there’s out of bounds right and some well positioned bunkers – an iron from the tee for most here.
Accuracy is again the key at the ninth and the approach must avoid the slope on the right of the green, and a hidden bunker on the left side.
The 10th is a great driving hole with a well bunkered, sloping green while the 11th is a cracking par three of around 150 yards.
There’s more temptation for the big hitters at the dogleg 12th, but the drive is fraught with danger with two ponds on the left – heading down the right side of the fairway is the much safer option. Another smashing par three played over a stream follows.
Two ponds are in play at the 14th if you pull your tee shot left, and you’ll require two very good shots to find the plateau green some 400 yards from the tee.
The 15th, The Ravine, is the signature hole here (see fact file) and it signals the start of a big finish.
Escape with a four at the 15th and another lovely par three follows. There are two keys to the 16th – don’t go left and avoid the front bunker. Par here is a great result.
Par is also a great score at the long 17th with your tee shot needing to avoid the trees, the stream and out of bounds left along with a ditch in the fairway.
Your drive at the 18th must favour the right side to give a real chance of finding the final green. Reach it in two and you’ll deserve refreshment in the superb clubhouse with its two lounges and dining area with views across the course.
Beamish Park Golf Club
The Club House, Beamish, Stanley, Co Durham, DH9 ORH
Tel 0191 370 1382
Professional 0191 370 1984
For visitor enquiries and green fees, contact Bill Ward, tel 0191 370 1382
White tees 6,180 yards
Yellow tees 6,122 yards
Red tees 5,478 yards
Buggy, trolley and club hire
Three practice areas with a short game/chipping area near the third hole, a medium iron layout between the fifth and sixth holes, and a full practice area of more than 300 yards next to the 10th hole
Locker rooms with changing facilities
Accuracy off the tee is the key here
The Ravine, the 384-yard par four 15th hole, is played from a high tee with a severe drop down to a fairway snaking through the ravine. You have to aim at the trees to find the fairway, but there is out of bounds on your left and more trouble on your right – many choose an iron off the tee to avoid the hazards here. If you get it on the fairway, the second shot is played to a narrow downhill green guarded by pot bunkers. A short, tricky par four that can make or break your round.
One of the best looking courses in the North and a real pleasure to play.