Short and sweet

Dean Bailey visit Cocken Lodge and finds a fantastic short course

Whether you’re making the jump from the driving range to the golf course, or sharpening your skills around the greens, a short course is a fantastic stepping stone – though they don’t often look and play like Cocken Lodge.

Opened in 2000, the nine-hole loop around the floodlit driving range is truly special – with USGA specification greens surrounded by stadium course mounding to create a fantastic course of 1,486 yards with two par fours and seven par threes.

A game should take between an hour and 90 minutes, ideal for a quick golf fix in the evening while the large greens with multiple tiers and daunting slopes will test the best players. Beginners and youngsters will enjoy the shorter holes while low handicappers can sharpen the most important part of the game – those shots from inside 100 yards which make up around 70% of every round.

The greens are well defended by mounding and small, well-placed bunkers while there are a number of candidates for signature hole. The par four third is 233 yards with out of bounds to the left side and a fairway bunker to the left, while the large green is dissected by steep slopes and runoffs – a daunting pitch shot awaits every time you play this one.

The par four eighth, a 261-yard dogleg right would sit perfectly on any course in the region with a near-impossible target for those taking on the green over bunkers and water. Laying up to the fairway doesn’t make things much easier with a long iron into the fairway leaving a pitch to a green protected by two bunkers to the right and water left, with a green which will gather the ball back towards the hazard.

The ninth would also be well placed on any course, it’s huge amphitheatre-like green with Durham Cathedral in the distance, protected by bunkers at the front left and front right and steep mounding on three sides.

Away from the course, the recently refurbished clubhouse/café is very welcoming with hot drinks, sandwiches and draught beers, while the 18-bay driving range (12 covered bays) has recently been upgraded with LED lighting and is open until 9pm daily. The club is also home to PGA professional Doug Brolls and PGA assistant professional Phil Maitland.

Cocken Lodge, Cocken Road, Leamside Houghton-le-Spring, DH4 6QP. Tel 0191 5841 053,

9 holes – £10
18 holes – £15
Juniors – half price
Seniors (Mon-Fri) – half price
Loyalty card – pay for six games and get seventh free
50 balls £3
Four tokens for £10

Total distance
Yellow tees 1,486 yards
Red tees 1,340 yards

Nine-hole course
Floodlit driving range
Chipping and putting greens
Large clubhouse and café
PGA professional tuition