United score with course

Newcastle United is not just about Premier league football but also first class golf as Paul Corney discovered

A trio of Tyneside clubs – Newcastle United, City of Newcastle and Northumberland can all trace their origins back to the late 19th century.

The City of Newcastle Golf Club was founded in October 1891 with gentlemen members playing a course designed and laid out on the Town Moor by the legendary Tom Morris Senior.

When it opened, locals played without permission so, to introduce an element of control, the City decided to encourage the formation of an ‘Artisan’ club.

Newcastle United Workman’s Golf Club came into existence in June 1892 and for a number of years, the City and United Clubs played alongside each other. The Artisan club later changed its name to Newcastle United Golf Club, a title it has maintained.

City’s days on the Town Moor were numbered and as a result of restrictions placed on development by the Freeman and City Corporation and a continuing problem with locals, a splinter group broke away in 1898, to form Northumberland Golf Club at High Gosforth Park. The remaining City members lasted a further nine years before moving to the Three Mile Bridge in August 1907 and leaving the United club in sole possession of the Town Moor course.

Now located on Nuns Moor, the course begins with a 408-yard par four where a straight drive, usually downwind and over the marker post, should find the centre of the fairway. The only problem at this hole is the semi-blind approach.

Although the second may be slightly shorter than the first, the hole is played back into the prevailing wind and is a much tougher proposition. There is a bunker on the left to take into account, 200 yards from the tee, but find the short grass and you will be left with a middle iron to a bunkerless pear-shaped green.

Only 154 yards, the fourth is the first of the par threes where care has to be taken with club selection. The narrow green is nearly 40 yards long so there could well be three clubs difference, depending on the pin position. In addition, there are five green-side bunkers to worry about along with trees and deep rough to the left.

Having hopefully started well, the Newcastle United course now starts to ask questions about your long game. The sixth is all of 546 yards and for most of us, a genuine three-shotter. A drive of 250 yards or so to the marker post, followed by a well-positioned second shot avoiding the five fairway bunkers will leave an approach of about 100 yards. The well bunkered green is a small target and take care not to leak the approach right or your ball will disappear down a steep slope, leaving a tricky chip.

The seventh, a 159-yard par three played slightly uphill to a green defended by three bunkers is followed by a tough 436-yard par four and a hole where most will be more than happy to make par.

At 561 yards, the ninth is a straight par five with out of bounds along the right. And gentlemen be warned, you need a drive of 180 yards at this one, just to make the ladies tee. The fairway is flat to start with and then rises uphill to the green, adding distance and making the hole play even longer.

If you think that was long, the 10th is 566 yards and another strong par five. Saying that, the fairway is wide but you will require two very good strikes to get within 100 yards of the green. Watch out for the bunker on the right, 90 yards from the target and a further three protecting the target.

The 12th is an acute dog-leg left. A sensible tee shot of around 220 yards will leave a downhill approach on this par four, to a green protected by bunkers on both sides and sloping severely back to front.

Another good par five at 13 is followed by back-to-back par threes including the signature 14th (see factfile).

The drive at the 17th is semi-blind but the marker-post is the line and the fairway does open up. The green has bunkers left and right and there is a very deep hollow at the front – this par four maybe just 367 yards but many golfers have dropped shots as a result of coming up short.

The final hole is 417 yards and a good finishing par four with out of bounds left. Avoid two fairway bunkers and you will be left with a middle iron to a large green.