Dean Bailey stays close to home and finds a classic track in great condition
I’m lucky to live within a few minutes drive of some of our region’s finest parkland clubs, with challenging layouts and classic tracks available every weekend.
An old favourite, and one with a great history having celebrated its centenary in 2013, Tynemouth Golf Club offers everything a golfer wants on a Sunday morning in late September – an inspiring sight from the tee, good quality greens to end the playing season, not too tough a walk, and a good Sunday lunch.
The start at Tynemouth is far from easy. The 400-yard-plus par four requires a drive between deep fairway bunkers – a recurring feature here – with the practice ground and out of bounds right. The green at the first, like many here, has subtle borrows and breaks which require a keen eye to work out.
At the second and third, the ravine which runs through the heart of the course makes its first appearance. At two, lay up short of it and the fairway bunker right to leave an unobstructed view of the green. At the par three third, anything short will fall back into it leaving a tough pitch. With few places to bail out – a steep drop left and cavernous bunker some 10ft below the green right – finding the green is a must.
The par four fourth, fifth and sixth holes each present good birdie opportunities should you find the tree-flanked fairways. At five, the longest of the three holes, the approach has to carry the ravine to find the putting surface while six may be in reach for the longest hitters, who must avoid the cross bunker 60 yards from the putting surface.
The par three seventh features the best green on the course, one Nick Faldo would argue has elephants beneath it, with its severe mounding and huge slopes making for the trickiest putts on the course.
Heading towards the turn, the eighth is a tough par five with water right of the landing area. The second shot is again played over the ravine to a well-guarded fairway with three cross bunkers. The green here is large, though two deep bunkers protect its front edge.
Tynemouth has developed throughout its 103 years, with new holes constructed in the 20th Century as land was acquired and improvements made to the practice ground with covered bays in more recent times. The developments are set to continue with the first of three phases of drainage work recently completed, and work continuing on developing approaches and green surrounds to enhance natural run-off areas.
The ninth and 10th are both worthy of signature hole. Played over and parallel to the ravine at its deepest point on the course, the ninth got our nod. The 372-yard par four ninth at Tynemouth is the most visually inspiring hole on the course. Played over the ravine at its deepest point, the drive requires a carry of at least 170 yards, increasing as you head towards the green. Tall trees guard the right of the fairway should you play away from the ravine, while the green is tricky to read and protected by three bunkers.
The par four 10th, though slightly shorter, is the trickier of the two. Played uphill from the tee, the line is difficult – play away from the steep fall off left and there’s a good chance you will run out of fairway to the right.
The 11th is a tricky par three defended by deep bunkers, while the 12th is a great par five, with a huge fairway bunker left an imposing sight while out of bounds guards the right side. Two more huge bunkers await a misplaced lay up to the right of the fairway. Anyone making it to the green in two has played two superb shots here.
Caddy’s tip With such difficult fairway bunkers, club selection and distance control are key from the tee. Knowing your yardages will make a big difference. Work on your pace putting on the putting green, the greens here are big and good touch will save a lot of shots.
The back nine at Tynemouth features many tricky drives, guarded by trees and fairway bunkers. Out of bounds waits right at the 13th, where anything too far left will find tall trees and leave a tricky punch out which will be caught by the ravine just short of the green. The 14th deserves its stroke one billing with the most difficult tee shot. From the back tee, it must make the 250 yards to the corner of the 90-degree dog-leg right, but be less than 280 yards as the fairways runs out. Anyone risking a longer shot, and cutting the corner, is likely to find the thick rough and tall trees which guard the right side.
The final stretch at Tynemouth is very scoreable, with the short par four 15th requiring a solid tee shot avoiding the water right of the fairway, though there is plenty of space at this 368-yard hole. The 16th is the best birdie opportunity. Lay up with a long iron between the imposing fairway bunkers 230 yards from the tee to leave a short iron to a well-bunkered green.
The 172-yard par three 17th has a generous green, though anything short will find a tricky bunker shot over a steep face.
At 18, a driver will leave just a short pitch, while a sensible play with a long iron will avoid the fairway bunkers. Two more bunkers wait at the front edge of the green, while the car park awaits anything which flies the green.
OUR VERDICT An easy walk, the fairway bunkers and devilishly difficult greens offer great visuals and a tough test with the putter – what more could you ask for?