Between Durham and North Yorkshire lies some of the region’s most spectacular golf courses, join us on our journey to three of Teesside’s best
Seaton Carew Golf Club Site of England’s 10th oldest golf course, the links at Seaton Carew have been shaped by centuries of North Sea waves and the expertise of some of golf’s greatest architects, including Dr Alister MacKenzie.
Much of MacKenzie’s redesign of Seaton Carew is still in play today as the Old Course, although many holes have been lengthened since his work here in the mid-1920s. The only major changes were made within a few years of his re-construction – removing MacKenzie’s eighth and replacing it with what is now the 12th; and the extension and re-routing of his 11th hole to become a new 13th. In the early 1970s, with the prospect of losing some of its land, the club added four Frank Pennink-designed holes, and today offers a set of routings using a mixture of its 22 holes. Further enhancements are ongoing under the guidance of course manager Tom Coulson, with an extensive programme of works planned to return the landscape to the one MacKenzie first saw in the 1920s.
Host of numerous England Golf events in its history, the club will host the English Amateur Championships in 2024 in partnership with Hartlepool Golf Club, as part of its 150th birthday celebrations.
A true links golf test, the fairways here are generous, but they are lined with punishing sand dunes, whins and rough. Meanwhile, if the wind blows, this is a fearsome test. Bunkers lie close to greens and gather in any balls which venture nearby. Scoring is dictated by accuracy here – particularly on the challenging set of par three holes with their penal bunkering. Seaton Carew Golf Cub, Tees Road, Seaton Carew, TS25 1DE, tel 01429 266 249, www.seatoncarewgolfclub.co.uk
Wynyard Golf Club Wynyard’s Wellington Course is a fine example of modern golf course design which challenges driving distance and accuracy as well as the putting of even the most accomplished players.
Host venue for the 2005 Seve Trophy as well as European and Seniors tour qualifying schools, the course’s mature trees and vast bunkers ensure accuracy from the tee is richly rewarded. Meanwhile, large green complexes featuring mounding, run-off areas and more fiendish bunkers will challenge those looking to attack flags.
Designed by Martin Hawtree, the course opened in 1996 and has matured into a widely respected layout which remains a regular host of top professional and amateur events. While it can be stretched to more than 7,000 yards, a wide variety of tee boxes ensure everyone can play a course which suites their game.
Highlights of every round include the par four second hole with its elevated tee shot and the par three third played over water, while the snaking par five 16th has ruined many rounds as it weaves between water and sand. Wynyard Golf Club, Wellington Drive, Wynyard, TS22 5QJ, tel 01740 644 399, www.wynyardgolfclub.co.uk
Billingham Golf Club The golf course at Billingham Golf Club occupies a superb landscape for golf. Rolling hills, valleys, water and many trees create a fascinating layout with a mix of demanding tee shots and birdie opportunities for those who keep their ball in play. Water features sparingly and enhances the challenge of just a few holes, including this relatively short course’s main defence – holes 11-13.
The highlight of the Billa’s Wrath stretch is the signature par four 11th. This 400-yard par four is the stuff of nightmares for players who shape the ball left to right. The narrow fairway is flanked by tall trees while water runs down the left side. The hole then turns to the left, crossing the water and a large pond before rising to the green, which is guarded by a bunker on the right side. Driver is required to shorten the second shot and give a good view of the green – miss the fairway and big numbers are in play here.
While the club was founded in 1967, the golf course – overseen by designer Frank Pennink – officially opened for play in 1969. Today, many will be surprised to learn it is little more than 50 years old given the maturity of the trees and the strategic roles they play. While trees form the primary defence, bunkering here is penal too and positioned to provide challenges for better players and obvious routes around for the higher handicapper. The green complexes have a modern feel, using mounding and slopes to support the challenge presented by the bunkering. Plot your way around if you have any doubt of finding the fairways – the trees are tall and quite dense which means most trips off line will lead to at least one dropped shot. From the fairways, Billingham presents a tremendously fun day out. Billingham Golf Club, Sandy Lane, Billingham, TS22 5NA, tel 01642 533 816, www.billinghamgolfclub.com