Championship Quality

There are no easy par 4s, a number of intimidating drives and with accuracy a must - the course at Whitley Bay is one of the finest tests of golf in our region and a true championship golf course.

There are no easy par 4s, a number of intimidating drives and with accuracy a must - the course at Whitley Bay is one of the finest tests of golf in our region and a true championship golf course.

Whitley Bay Golf Club was founded in 1890 with their members playing a 9-hole course on Whitley links, a narrow strip of land along the coast with the club house opposite the "Spanish City". This could only be played between October and June because of the popularity of the links to visitors during the summer.

In 1899, the club rented a field near St Mary's island and in 1902, Whitley St Mary's golf club opened as a summer course.

At that time there were continuing problems with both courses resulting in the club terminating the agreement on the St Mary's course.

In 1906, the club moved to land near Briardene and George Rochester, a well-known professional from Alnmouth, designed a new 9-hole course covering 67 acres with a playing length of 2770 yards.

Four years later, the 1912 Open Champion Ted Ray further developed the course and extended it to 18 holes. Following compulsory opencast mining between 1949 and 1955, the course was re-designed and a new layout made possible.

And in 1970, new holes in a field to the north were opened to replace those lost with the club relinquishing their lease on land to the east of Claremont Road. That same year, the club hosted their first professional tournament, an event dominated by somebody called Lee Trevino!

Seven years later, Roy and Ian Caller sponsored an International Open Golf Tournament at Whitley Bay, which succeeded in attracting players from all over the world. The likes of Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bob Charles and David Graham all competed for the first prize of £5000, won eventually by a relatively unknown South African, John Fourie.

Since then, the club has been selected to host several County and National amateur events which are not surprising - the course is a superb test and a real thrill to play.

The amateur course record stands at 65 shot by Tom Hesketh in June 2005 and the professional record 64 carded by Gary Donnison, two years earlier.

The practice facilities at Whitley Bay are also top class. There is a putting green, a practice chipping area, driving net and a practice fairway with a green and bunker.

There is an excellent bar and lounge area along with a separate dining room where visitors can relax and enjoy the warm welcoming atmosphere.

Peter Crosby, the newly appointed golf professional runs a well-stocked pro shop and is on hand, to iron out all the faults that may have developed in your golf swing.

The course

This par 71 course measures 6579 yards off the back tees, 6304 yards off the yellows and for the ladies 5754 yards (par 73).

The first is a good opening par 5. Although only 476 yards, short by today's standards, the drive is played slightly downhill to a fairway that swings left and rises to a big sloping green. There is out of bounds all along the left and severe rough and mounding on both sides - it might be wise to hit a few practice shots before starting the round!

At 422 yards, the par second is a really tough hole. No choice at this one, only a long straight drive will leave any chance of getting home in two. The approach is played uphill avoiding two bunkers 40 yards short of a very tricky green.

The third hole is a 172-yard par 3 where you do need enough club to ensure you hit the centre of the target. If you find the very deep hollow at the front, you will have a devil of a chip to contend with. Also bear in mind the two bunkers on the right of the green.

The drive at the fourth is from an elevated tee to quite a generous fairway. This 377-yard par 4 is one of the easier holes on the course and providing you find the fairway, a good birdie chance. Favour right of centre from the tee to leave a slightly uphill approach to a green sloping back to front, defended bunkers left and right.

The first of the intimidating drives is at the next where a carry of about 180 yards is needed to make the fairway. There is a deep ravine full of trees, bushes, rough and water in front of the tee, all combining to put that little extra pressure on your golf swing. This par 4 is just under 400 yards, so ignore what's in front of you and a good drive will leave a 7 or 8 iron to the green.

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Factfile

Name: Whitley Bay Golf Club

Address: Claremont Road, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, NE26 3UF

Telephone: 0191 252 0180

Fax: 0191 297 0030

E-mail: secretary@whitleybaygolfclub.co.uk

Web Site: www.whitleybaygolfclub.com

Green Fees: Weekdays £30 a round, £40 a day Monday & Thursday between 10am and 12 noon and 2pm to 4pm £20. Weekends £35 a round (Sunday PM only). Juniors (weekdays) Under 18 & Accompanied £15. Juniors (weekends) Under 18 & Accompanied £16. Twilight Golf after 6.30pm - £16

Membership: Gents - currently full (waiting list in operation). Ladies and Junior memberships available (For details, contact the secretary on the above numbers)

Societies: Welcome - Various packages are available. For details, contact the secretary on the above numbers

Buggies: Available. Members - £9 per round, £18 a day. Visitors - £18 a round, £25 a day. Twilight rate after 6.30pm £6

 

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