Seaton Carew Golf Club – Spotlight on Seaton

Seaton Carew Golf Club Tees Road, Seaton Carew, Hartlepool TS25 1DE
YARDAGES (Micklem)
White tees 6,594 yards, par 71
Yellow tees 6,290 yards, par 71
Red tees 5,513, par 72
-150-year-old championship venue
-Welcoming clubhouse with excellent food
-Pro shop with trolley and buggy hire
-Practice area and putting green

Dean Bailey profiles England’s 10th oldest golf course ahead of the English Amateur championships

The golfing landscape of Seaton Carew has changed dramatically in its 150-year history. The evolving nature of the linksland has seen the course change several times – most notably in the 1920s when golf course architect Dr Alister MacKenzie made the short trip north to advise on significant changes as the golf course moved eastward into recently formed sand dunes. In the 1970s, Frank Pennink oversaw the creation of four additional holes to ward off the potential loss of four others, though this never came to fruition and today Seaton has a unique 22-hole layout which can be utilised in a number of ways. Most recently, course manager Tom Coulson has overseen the removal of sea buckthorn from the course to reopen the dunescape after more than 100 years of overbearing growth, while architects Mackenzie & Ebert have begun working with the club on redefining the challenge of the course, notably the bunkers, reimagining the course in Dr MacKenzie’s style for the 21st Century.

For the 2024 English Amateur championships, the best male and female golfers in the country will compete over the Micklem Course – a 6,594-yard configuration devised by two-time English Amateur champion Gerald Micklem ahead of the British Boys’ in 1986 – which promises excitement and challenges in both strokeplay and matchplay.

In order to reach the most intriguing land for golf, we must venture away from town and the clubhouse, beginning with a short par four. Just 360 yards from the white tee, the fairway is generous at the first, though long hitters should take note of the out of bounds to the right. Two imposing bunkers, set well back from the green, sit above players as they approach the green and disguise the space available on and around the putting surface.

The straight away par five second also invites players to make use of a generous fairway, though the hole becomes significantly tougher as you approach the green – weaving around an approach bunker cut into a slope on the left, while another smaller bunker blocks the route along the ground from the right side. A bunkerless green complex slopes from back right to front left and away from the centre in all directions, while two distinct waves create three sections on the green. A deep hollow at the front left corner of the putting surface must be avoided.

Reimagined in recent months and returned to the imposing short hole envisioned more than a century ago, the 173-yard third – Doctor – presents the first truly daunting shot of the round. The bunkers – including the vast front trap below the putting surface, a pair of traps to the right and a hidden bunker on the left side of the green with a large catchment area – have been reconfigured to elevate the challenge of the hole. The green plateau slopes from right to left towards the left bunker, and is a fascinating mix of severe and more subtle contours.

A pair of sub-400-yard par fours follow. At the fourth, a tee shot short of the bunker on the left leaves the best angle to approach a well-defended green encircled by three bunkers and steep mounds with both closely mown turf and thick rough. Pins on the right are more accessible than they first appear.

At the fifth, long hitters should be wary of the fairway bunker on the left, some 70 yards short of the green, while two bunkers to the right and one to the left are cut well below the putting surface. The green is split into two sections by a central ridge, which can be tough to navigate when putting uphill to back hole locations.

Mashie – a 169-yard par three – follows. A complex patchwork of dunes and rough linger left of the green, while a trio of bunkers guard the right side of a long putting surface which is narrowest in the front third.

Heading towards the turn, holes seven to nine will each provide excitement in matchplay. The 355-yard seventh features steep dunes along its right side, which stretch all the way to the green. Here a slim entrance is squeezed by two deep bunkers. Another bunker on the left contributes to forming a heavily contoured bowl for the green to sit in.

At the short par four eighth, a trio of bunkers protect the corners of the fairway as it doglegs right. The bunkers around the green – including a brilliant free-flowing trap with railway sleeper details on the front left corner, a back left bunker set above the green, and two more on the right side – ensure that missing this steeply contoured green is severely punished.

Toughened recently with the addition of two fairway bunkers, the ninth – Jimmy Kay – is named after the club’s longest-serving professional. A small, back to front sloping green is ringed by five bunkers – including two terrifying pot bunkers on the right side.

Walking back to the furthest point from the clubhouse, the tee shot at the 394-yard par four 10th must find the fairway to allow you to control the ball into the tiny, elevated green. Two approach bunkers and a cavernous greenside bunker on the left side, and a shallower back right trap, are positioned to penalise those who bail out left off the tee.

Players who take driver on the 371-yard 11th hole – Lagoon – can be richly rewarded with far easier access to a challenging green site, or heavily punished by one of the three fairway bunkers, including a treacherous trap on the left side. Favour the right side off the tee and left side into the green – where two deep bunkers are cut well short on the front right corner and a closely mown area presents a short game test should you miss right and run off down the steep slope.

Surrounded by dunes and played slightly uphill, the 409-yard 12th hole demands an accurate tee shot – particularly now there’s a narrow scrape bunker to the left of the landing area. A single front left bunker, mounding and thick rough protect an enormous green which slopes back to front and offers little room for error.

Judging the line at the 90-degree dogleg right 13th can be tricky, particularly in the wind. Out of bounds borders the right side and cautious players will favour going left. However, this route to the green is far tougher with a fairway bunker and two greenside traps on the left as you make your way to the elevated green on this 484-yard par five.

The tough shots keep coming at the 14th, where a new elevated back tee will be in play for the English Amateur. Being able to control your approach is vital here as the upturned green runs away in every direction – particularly its sides, where bunkers lie in wait at the bottom of the slopes.

Another brilliant par three, the 15th – Cosy Corner – can be pushed back to 205 yards, where the deceptively short first bunker can begin to intimidate players. The long, back to front sloping green is shaped to catch shots with longer clubs, while mis-hit tee shots will be captured by the pair of front bunkers.

The longest of the closing trio of par fours, the 453-yard 16th is well-guarded by fairway bunkers – two left and two right – before the hole turns slightly to the left. Three more bunkers are cut below the green, which is the longest on the course.

The 17th is a demanding signature hole.

Favour the right side from the tee at the 398-yard 17th hole – Snag – to leave the most favourable angle into a spectacular, raised green. Pinched and ringed by four bunkers in its front half – two on each side cut well below the putting surface – the green rises significantly to its flatter back section. The landscape drops away dramatically in every direction from the green, creating an infinity effect and highlighting the contours in this incredible green site further.

There is more fairway than you may think at the near-400-yard closing hole – though out of bounds lurks close to the right side. Left is best into the final green, which sits in front of the clubhouse and has no bunkers, though the swales and hollows short can leave a tricky final chip shot to this vast putting surface.


One of the most important championship venues in our region, Seaton Carew is a delight to play in calm, summer conditions and an exacting challenge when the wind blows. We can’t wait to see it in the spotlight this summer, and to return as it continues to develop.