Dean Bailey visits Prudhoe Golf Club and learns why the course has produced players with more than 150 county, national and international honours between them
Play Prudhoe in the height of summer and you’ll understand why the club has produced some of the region’s finest golfers.
From British Amateur champion and tour player David Curry and British Ladies Amateur Strokeplay champion Janet Soulsby to British Mid Amateur champion Shaun Philipson and a number of county players through its 87-year history, the Northumberland club’s short but tactically challenging layout and fast, undulating greens make it a stern test.
Make it though the opening stretch in a good score and you may begin to ask how the best players could go on to tackle the toughest courses in the UK and beyond – though you’ll quickly realise that Prudhoe bites back around the turn and into the back nine.
Short for many modern players at just 5,839 yards, the key to good scoring is patience and playing into scoring positions while respecting the toughest holes and having a sharp short game.
The opening seven holes are where scores are made with a number of short par fours yielding birdie chances should you play them sensibly and avoid the trees bordering the fairways.
Heading downhill, the 345-yard first plays shorter than its yardage, though a tight fairway is bordered by trees on both sides which will make approaches from either side tricky to a long, two-tiered green with steep drops around its rear half and a deep greenside bunker at the front left.
Tougher tee shots wait at the second and third, which measure 308 and 385 yards respectively. Both tee shots will land out of sight – the second playing steeply uphill to a fairway which turns right to a small green with new trees narrowing the fairway at 220 yards. A deep bunker to the right of the green will leave a very tricky up and down particularly to the higher back half of the green. Meanwhile, you must play left at the third to avoid thick rough and out of bounds to the right – and leave an approach to the green with tall trees guarding the corner of the dogleg and blocking your view.
The par four fourth, fifth and sixth are all very good birdie chances, particularly the 265-yard fifth which is driveable, though four bunkers narrow the route to the putting surface. The first par three, the 175-yard seventh, plays longer than its yardage up the hill with two bunkers to the right waiting to catch any tee shots which leak right.
While scores are made in the opening eight holes, many of them are lost through the turn where tactical tee shots and accuracy are key.
The 357-yard eighth sweeps downhill away from the clubhouse and requires a long tee shot to have a good look at the approach to a generous green with two bunkers at the front edge.
The ninth is the toughest hole on the front nine. At 416 yards, this dogleg par four sweeps right to left back uphill to the clubhouse with trees guarding both sides of the fairway and a bunker hidden to the right side at the top of the hill. A long second shot leads to a steeply tiered green which will make putts to the wrong half of the green very tough.
The par four 10th is the toughest hole on the course at 468 yards from the back tee. Played downhill, a long drive is required to leave as short an approach as possible to a wide green with severe slopes at the front.
The 174-yard par three 11th plays downhill and you must carry the ball to the green to avoid three front bunkers, while accuracy is required at the 12th with a tee shot playing up and over the crest of the hill leaving a short pitch steeply uphill to the green. Watch out for the burn in the fairway 50 yards short of the green at this 275-yard par four.
The par three 13th is a great looking short hole requiring a long and accurate tee shot between three bunkers well below the level of the green with out of bounds just beyond the back of the green.
One of the best par fives in our region, the 14th got our pick for signature hole (see fact file).
The steeply downhill par three 15th is the easiest par three at just 139 yards – though long putts can be very tough on a fast, sloping green. At 16 your tee shot much reach the corner of the dogleg right at 240 yards to have a look at the green which sits above the fairway with a bunker to the right side which will gather anything missing the green on this side.
Two tough par fours lead back to the clubhouse. The 17th is a sharp dogleg right to left with a large tree in the centre of the fairway while the 18th is a very tough finishing hole with out of bounds left at this uphill, 461-yard par four. Play to the right side of the fairway to leave a long iron up to the top of the hill where the front edge of the green will feed anything short back into the fairway leaving a tricky pitch to another very fast green.
Prudhoe Golf Club, Eastwood Park Prudhoe, NE42 5DX
Tel 01661 832 466
Mon-Fri £18 (juniors £5)
Sat-Sun £25 (juniors £7)
Packages available for groups and societies
White tees 5,839 yards
Yellow tees 5,698 yards
Red tees 5,342 yards
Large clubhouse with bar/lounge and dining room
Locker rooms and changing facilities
Practice range with short game area
Accuracy from the tee, with the driver and irons is key. Find the fairways and you can build your score
The 547-yard 14th at Prudhoe is one of the toughest par fives in our region. The drive must find the left of the fairway to leave the best view of the green and landing area for your second shot. Thick rough protects the right side of the hole and your lay up must avoid two bunkers to the left – which will gather anything landing too close to them. The approach is played steeply uphill to a small green with a steep drop off on the left side and trees and out of bounds right