As proud as the whole of the North East is of its many outstanding 18-hole courses, with Foxton Hall at Alnmouth among the finest, Foxton’s little sister just down the road is commanding national attention.
The course at Alnmouth Village is England’s oldest nine-hole links – opened in 1869 – and has been named among the best nine-holers in the North by Today’s Golfer.
The magazine describes the scene looking out to sea from the tee on the seventh hole as “magnificent, with amazing coastal views which will blow you away.”
At this point on the course, golfers find themselves on top of a bracken hill, surveying the beach, Alnmouth Bay, Coquet Island and the far horizon.
As any golf club official will tell you, alongside beauty comes the beast of burden and the Village’s work on improving their gem has been helped by Sport England with a £50,000 Olympic legacy grant.
Sir John Hall, no less, will be pitching up on Saturday to open a new sprinkler and drainage system at the Village.
The course was designed and created by Mungo Park, who won The Open Championship at Musselburgh in 1874. He held a dual role as the Village’s first professional/greenkeeper.
A current source of pride is the junior section, which has ballooned from single figures two years ago to a far more healthy 60-plus now.
Linzi Hardy, a teaching professional who coaches at both Alnmouth and Alnmouth Village, said: “Yes, that view at the Village is spectacular.
“It is unusual in that you walk uphill on the sixth, the fantastic view at the top of the hill is from the seventh tee and then you walk down the hill on that hole.
“The village club has a quirky little course and you have to keep the ball straight because it has narrow fairways.
“Golfers do not want to slice on any the first five holes played along the shoreline because if they do, they will be over the road and on the beach.”
Overall, the Village is a traditional left-hand loop of nine holes.
It has a testing home run of four holes generally played into the prevailing wind.
Golf at both Alnmouth and the Village owes its existence to the growth of the North Eastern railway system, which killed off Alnmouth’s coastal shipping trade.
That encouraged wealthy families to build houses or rent holiday cottages and subsequently led to the formation of both courses.
“We are very close neighbours with Foxton not only in terms of distance, but many other factors,” said Jack Kidd, a retired executive with Coca Cola, a Village committeeman and an amateur photographer.
“Apart from Linzi coaching at both clubs, we have a very close working relationship, especially between the greenkeepers.
“A lot goes on behind the scenes and socially.
“Historically, there have always been close ties between the clubs – Alnmouth was formed out of Alnmouth Village - and we get on very well.
“Linzi operates closely with our Junior Liaison Officer,Hilda Blythe.
“These first steps youngsters take when they are introduced to the sport are vital and we are delighted at how they are being brought along.
“Linzi and Hilda work hard at generating support from the club members and the youngsters’ families, all of whom are all very quick to roll up their sleeves and help out at our Saturday morning sessions for youngsters - doing whatever needs to be done.”