Dean Bailey visits one of Teesside’s finest layouts – The Wellington Course at Wynyard Golf Club
Since it opened for play in 1996, The Wellington Course at Wynyard has earned an enviable reputation for its challenging, modern design; risk and reward layout; and superb playing conditions.
Host of multiple regional, county and European Tour events in its 27 years, the course also served as host venue for the 2005 Seve Trophy – the biennial contest between GB&I and continental Europe. Be sure to take a moment to visit the locker room and see where players from playing captains Colin Montgomerie and José María Olazábal to Pádraig Harrington and Henrik Stenson sat and prepared during the event.
Designed by Martin Hawtree, the Wellington Course, which can be stretched to more than 7,000 yards, remains fundamentally the same as when it hosted some of Europe’s best players in 2005 – though continued refinements have ensured it remains an exacting test.
The tee at the 470-yard par five opening hole is set among tall fir trees and feels far removed from the Wynyard estate which borders the course. The bunker on the left side, beyond the oak tree, is some 280 yards from the back tee, though beware playing too cautiously to the right and facing an obstructed route to the green. A bunker guards the line to the putting surface from the left side, though the landing area is generous to the right of this and leads slightly uphill to a long green which slopes back to front as features two front bunkers.
After a relatively easy opener, the tee shot at the second is one of the toughest. Some can go over the bunker on the left side, but many will need to play right of it while avoiding the out of bounds on the right side to leave a long, uphill approach to a green complex featuring steep mounding and two more bunkers – the front right one is particularly deep.
The par threes occupy the most picturesque green sites here and the third may well be the pick of the bunch. Stretching to nearly 200 yards from the back tee, the tee shot is played over a lake, which shouldn’t be in play, to an enormous green featuring four front bunkers – three on the right and one to the left.
The 400-yard fourth hole asks for one great shot – either a drive threaded between the fairway bunkers some 250 yards from the tee to run down the slope or a longer approach to a green set atop a steep rise with a cross bunker on the right side and a cavernous trap cut into the slope on the left.
Having faced a demanding stretch, the 360-yard fifth hole can offer birdies. Stay well right of the two bunkers on the inside corner of the right-to-left dogleg to leave the best angle to a small green which has one bunker on its front left corner.
Another 400-yard-plus par four follows, where long drives can be rewarded with an extra boost from the slope just beyond the fairway bunker on the left side, before another par three set beautifully in front of trees with bunkers scattered on the slope which leads up to the large green.
The 370-yard eighth hole can be very tricky to get right. Those who hit driver will run down the hill to leave a blind, steeply uphill approach while those who lay back get a better view of the green. From here, the very narrow green is set at a 45-degree angle with bunkers short and long.
At 350 yards, the ninth can yield another birdie opportunity if you stay clear of the fairway bunkers and make it up to the raised green with its steep runoffs and two bunkers short right.
Played parallel with the first, the short par five 10th is an equally good birdie opportunity when played correctly. Avoid the fairway bunkers and the green is tantalisingly close – though the front right bunker reaches out to catch many balls making a bid to bounce up onto the green.
For many, the tee shot at the 11th should be played over the bunker on the right into a generous fairway. From here, the route to the wide green is all in front of you.
Having presented little challenge so far, water is certainly in play at the 199-yard par three 12th. Set in a quiet corner of the course among the trees, the lake cuts back towards the green and is always in your eyeline. The sloping green, with its two front bunkers, is larger than it looks from the tee.
When you stand on the tee at the signature 13th hole, you may question if there is a fairway to be found out there. There is, though accurate club selection is needed to keep the ball from bouncing through into the sand beyond the landing area. Three more traps, including one well short of the green on the left side, wait to catch any mishit approaches to this small, undulating green
If the first two par fives were definite birdie opportunities, the 550-yard 14th is anything but. A steep mound and rough lie to the left side while out of bounds looms close on the right from the tee along with a single bunker at around 250 yards. From here, a long lay up is required to leave a treacherous approach over the largest bunker on the course to a raised green which is equally vast.
At just 363 yards, the 15th hole is an easy par four on paper, but it can be a card-wrecker. From the white tee, it’s 250 yards to make it over the lake on the left side, and 265 yards to clear the bunker on the right. Stray into either, or play too cautiously out to the right, and the route to the small green becomes far harder.
The longest hole at Wynyard, the 16th is 562 yards from the white tees and can be a daunting test late in the round. When playing it in three shots, it’s best to lay up short of the two bunkers which flank the fairway, leaving a long second shot which must steer well clear of the lake on the left side. From here, the long green appears far more inviting than it does from behind the lake with 200-plus yards to go.
The green at the par three 17th is a generous one with its bowl-like contours created by the three bunkers and greenside mounding.
At 432 yards, the 18th requires two long shots to reach the green in regulation. The fairway is very wide between the three bunkers – stay clear of these as they are deep and their mounding obstructs your view of the green. The route to the putting surface is very narrow between two front bunkers, while two more wait beyond the first pair of traps to further protect this back to front sloping green.
Wynyard Golf Club, Wellington Drive, Wynyard, TS22 5QJ, tel 01740 644 399, www.wynyardgolfclub.co.uk
Full range of options available including group bookings – contact the club by phone or visit the website for further information
Blue tees 7,063 yards (Par 72) • White tees 6,690 yards (Par 72) • Yellow tees 6,273 yards (Par 72) • Red tees 7,764 yards (Par 73)
Modern clubhouse with superb food, and outdoor drinking and dining space • Pro shop • Buggy hire • Trolley hire • Covered and outdoor driving range, short game area, and putting green
The fairways and greens are generous, but many are flanked with disaster. Knowing where to miss is important to keeping your score under control here