Without doubt the County of Northumberland can lay claim to possessing some truly inspiring and varied golf courses. From the fast-running links at Dunstanburgh and Goswick, to the majestic parkland settings of Linden and Hexham and the American style courses at Longhirst, the county offers golfers a really exciting choice of venues.
But if you are looking to sample a fine round of golf which is challenging without being frustrating, then the course at Morpeth Golf Club could just well be the ideal place for you.
Formed back in 1906, the gentlemen of Morpeth initially played their golf in a field at Tranwell before moving to the club's present location on the outskirts of the town, where six times British Open champion Harry Vardon designed a truly scenic golf course.
In 2006, Morpeth Golf Club celebrated their centenary year in style. The men's league team won the Newcastle and District League title and Craig Penny was awarded the Player of the Year. Sandy Twynholm earned his 100th county cap, won the county's Fenwick Smith Trophy and for the 14th time, Morpeth's Club Championship - his morning round of 63 set a new course record. During the afternoon, Gary Wilson was on target to go one better but a bogey at the last saw him shoot 63 - not many clubs have seen the course record broken and equalled in the course of a single day's play!
Not to be outdone, the ladies team won both the Norah Percy Trophy and the second division and the juniors were victorious in their league - a clean sweep of all the county and League major trophies - the script for their centenary year couldn't have been written any better.
Morpeth Golf Club is a traditional Members club, steeped in history and with a thriving membership of 800, including 150 social members, a favourite focal point for the residents of Morpeth. The facilities in the clubhouse are of the highest order with an excellent lounge and bar area, dining room and a terrace overlooking the 1st tee and putting green - an ideal spot to watch members and visitors practicing and trying to stay out of the flower beds!!
The club's professional, Martin Jackson and his staff, operate a well stocked pro shop and are available for teaching sessions should your swing require some fine tuning throughout the season.
This lovely parkland course with fantastic panoramic views of the countryside, including the picturesque Cheviot Hills, features a whole host of challenges to your game that will excite and test you to the absolute limit.
Morpeth golf course may not be the longest in the region but this lovely parkland layout does require accurate shot making and good course management to avoid disaster. Although there are a number of very short par 4s, where the big hitters may be tempted to go for the greens, any tee shot off line will result in a provisional ball being required.
At 6104 yards off the medal tees and a par of 71, the first hole is a short par 4 of only 252yards. Unless you are sufficiently warmed up, leave the driver in the bag, as out of bounds beckons on both sides of the fairway. A sensible long iron to the left side of the fairway should leave a short approach shot to a fairly generous green and an obvious birdie chance.
The same cannot be said about the 2nd. At 433 yards and usually into the wind, a long straight drive is required or there is no chance of reaching the green in two. With trees and out of bounds on both sides of the fairway, this par 4 is the toughest hole on the course.
The par 5 3rd, again into the prevailing wind, plays all of its 521 yards. A drive to the right side of the fairway will keep you clear of a burn and newly constructed pond on the left. A long second shot, slightly uphill, over a gully to the centre of the fairway will leave you in range of a green sloping from back to front and guarded by four bunkers. Again trees and out of bounds protect the right side of the fairway so any shot leaked right will find trouble - a good three shotter.
The 4th is the first of four par 3s on the course. At 181 yards in length, the green is protected by three bunkers and is not an easy target to find. The hole plays longer than it looks, so consider taking an extra club and risk over-hitting the green. Making par here is a good score.
The 5th is another long tough par 4 and plays all of its 450 yards. The tee shot should be to the left of the big tree on the right, avoiding a bunker on the left 215 yards from the tee. The fairway then swings to the right before straightening towards the green with out of bounds on the right. If the wind is blowing, play this hole as a par 5 and hope for a single putt.
The next hole is an excellent uphill par 5 with out of bounds all along the right. Two big shots might find the putting surface but beware the fairway bunkers 125 and 80 yards from the green.
The 353 yard 7th is a par 4 and a slight dogleg right from the back tees. There are a number of pot bunkers 200 - 230 yards from the tee but a good solid strike should carry them. The 2nd shot might only require a short iron, played to a generous green protected by three bunkers.
The 8th is a 146-yard par 3 played slightly uphill to a green sloping left to right. Take note of the bunker at the front of the green, it tends to shorten the hole, making club selection tricky.
And the final hole on the front nine is a long straight par 4 and one of the tightest driving holes on the course. With trees and a ditch to the right, trees to the left, find the fairway here and you've done well. The second shot plays longer than it looks so again, serious thought has to be given to club selection.
Negotiate the front nine in anywhere near your handicap and you may well be on to a winning score.
The 10th is the longest on the course and a genuine three-shotter. At 568 yards from the back tees, keep to the centre of the fairway to avoid out of bounds all along the right. A well-struck second should leave you in range of an awkward green with a bunker front left. Try to keep left of the pin as the ball will gather to the right.
At 373 yards, the par 4 11th is a super hole. The tee shot is uphill and over the brow of the hill. The fairway
gathers to the left for the first 200 yards and then to the right on the other side of the hill. Keep to the left of centre and hope your ball doesn't roll into the woods on the right. The large two-tier green awaits the approach shot where it is important to find the right tier to avoid three-putt country.
The 12th, a shortish par 4, should only require a wedge to the green, providing the ball finds the fairway. New tree plantations on both sides of the fairway, 200 to 300 yards from the tee, await any wayward drives.
At 304 yards, the par 4 13th might appear simple but it's anything but. The fairway slopes steeply up to the green surrounded by bunkers. A full-blooded drive will leave a blind uphill pitch from an awkward stance. An iron from the tee might be more sensible leaving a longer second but from a flat lie. The green slopes severely from back to front and in the height of summer will test your putting ability to the full. No gimmees here!
The 14th is a challenging downhill par 3 and plays a little shorter than its 181 yards. With a copse on the left and bunkers short right, the green is a difficult target.
The 15th and 16th are both short par 4s, both under 300 yards and drivable in dry conditions. Go for the greens and make it, you could be in birdie or eagle country. Fail and you're in big trouble!!
The par 3 17th is a gem of a short hole. Only 142 yards, it is the shortest on the course but requires a very accurate tee shot. Trees to the left, bunkers front, left and right, a burn at the front and out of bounds to the rear, there is no room for error. Miss this green and there will be little chance of making par.
The final hole is a strong par 4 with out of bounds down both sides of the fairway. A long straight drive is required to an undulating fairway, which is a little wider than it looks. And the final approach is made to a severely sloping green protected by a bunker front left. It's a good feeling to walk off with a par at this hole.
It is quite understandable why Morpeth Golf Club continues to be selected to host both national and county events - it's just a cracking golf course.
Name: Morpeth Golf Club
Address: The Clubhouse, Morpeth, Northumberland NE61 2BT
Telephone: Office 01670 504942 Fax 01670 504918
Pro shop: 01670 515675
Location: Situated 2 minutes from the town centre of Morpeth, just 15 miles north of Newcastle
Green Fees: Adults, Weekdays £30 a round £35 a day Weekends £40 a round £45 a day. Juniors Weekdays - Under 16 £12 a round
Memberships: Joining Fee currently suspended. Male £561, Female £416, Junior £220, Child £125. Intermediate Membership available for 22 to 31 year olds
Social Memberships: £22 - many events throughout the year
Societies: Packages available - for further details please contact the club
Buggies: £20 a round