Nestling on the outskirts of Alnwick is a golf course that is now maturing into one of Northumberland's finest and a super test of golf. The mixture of serene tranquillity, beautiful views, abundant wildlife and a very welcoming atmosphere, all combine to give visitors a memorable day out.
Founded in 1907, the original 9-hole Alnwick course was designed by George Rochester, the club professional at Alnmouth. For many years, it remained unaltered with both members and visitors enjoying an immaculately presented course. It wasn't until the early 1990's when work on extending the course commenced and the new 18-hole layout designed by Alistair Rae, finally opened for play in May 1995.
Since then many different types of trees and shrubs have been planted and the seasonal colour around the course has to be seen to be believed. Many visitors return time after time to repeat their experience at Alnwick and its not surprising that the open competitions held at the club are always well attended.
Alnwick Golf Club has produced some fine golfers over the years, most notably Peter Deeble who played for Northumberland on 106 occasions. He won the English Amateur Championship twice, as well as other major tournaments, represented England 67 times and also played twice in the Walker Cup. If Alnwick was good enough for Peter, it is certainly more than good enough for the majority!!
The traditional old club house is another great asset, it is warm and friendly and everyone is treated equally. Be it a sandwich or a full dinner, you can be assured of top quality food, accompanied by drinks from their well stocked bar.
A visit to Alnwick Golf Club is recommended, it is only 30 minutes drive from Newcastle and in the very heart of one of the finest counties in our country.
At 6260 yards off the medal tees, 6101 yards from the yellows and 5667 yards for the ladies, Alnwick golf course is more than a test for low handicap players and off the front, a really good course for the average golfer.
The opening hole is a shortish par 4, played downhill and a very good birdie chance. There is a bunker on the left, 205 yards from the tee to watch out for but a drive of around 200 yards will be propelled further down the fairway courtesy of a steep down slope. The green is a smallish target with a solitary bunker front right however; an accurate pitch should result in a par or better.
Although the par 3 second is only 146 yards, the tee shot is steeply uphill and the hole plays a lot longer than it looks. There is no guarantee of a two putt at this one, the green slopes severely back to front and right to left.
With trees lining both sides of the fairway, the 406-yard par 4 third is stroke index one and deservedly so. The uphill drive needs a precise shot to find the tight landing area and needs to be long to leave any chance of reaching the green in regulation. For many, this hole has to be played as a three-shotter in the hope that a pitch and putt will save par - a bogey is by no means a disgrace.
The fourth is another par 3, played slightly downhill to a green sloping front to back and protected by a bunker front left. Clear the large tree in the centre of the fairway and you should find the putting surface without too much difficulty.
And then it's onto the new section of the course, beginning with a 536-yard par 5. The inviting tee shot may tempt you into opening the shoulders and giving the ball a good belt - be warned, go left and the quarry is out of bounds. The big hitters will try and clear the mound on the right, to leave a second shot of around 240 yards and the possibility of an eagle putt. There is a bunker 50 yards short of the green on the right and another front left to watch out for but three steady shots should secure a par.
The sixth is a 365-yard par 4 with out of bounds and a lateral water hazard all along the right. Played from a raised teeing area, there are two fairway bunkers to avoid but the landing area is generous and a good drive will leave a shortish iron approach shot to a saucer shaped green.
Play the next three holes in regulation and you can give yourself a pat on the back. The seventh is 457 yards and a very strong par 4 with out of bounds both right and left. Following a long straight drive, the second shot is played uphill to a tricky two-tier green protected by a deep bunker front right.
Another long par 4 is the eighth, measuring 415 yards and requiring two good accurate shots. With the fairway sloping right to left, aim for the right side and your ball should gather towards the centre. There are two bunkers to avoid on the approach and out of bounds at the rear, so take care with the second shot.
The final hole on the front nine is a 370-yard par 4 and a slight dog-leg right. Having avoided the fairway bunker on the right 200 yards from the tee, you are then faced with a tricky shot to a small target protected by a very deep bunker front right. Miss this green and you will be left with a devilish chip and the possibility of dropping a shot or two.
The back nine at Alnwick is a lot shorter and providing you have a decent score already on the card, you could be well on the way to putting a good round together.
The tenth is only 330 yards and a relatively gentle par 4.
Knock a good drive down the centre and a short pitch will leave a very good birdie chance.
Take care with the drive at the next, the fairway bunkers are 220 yards from the tee and you will need a carry in excess of 235 yards to take them out of play. This hole dog-legs right and the approach shot is played to a flattish green protected by two bunkers.
And then it's onto 'Lang Whang' an uphill monster of a par 5 and at 573 yards you will do well to make a par at this one. This is a true three-shotter needing two accurate long strikes and then a difficult uphill third to a plateau green - many a medal card has ended up in the bin at the next hole!
The gorse bushes at the thirteenth hole appear to be everywhere but the fairway is wide with plenty of room on the left. The difficulty at this 381-yard hole is the intimidating approach shot which has to be played semi-blind over the gorse to a very small bunkerless target. There is plenty of room to the right of the green, so pick the right club, trust your swing and forget about the gorse.
Only 300 yards, the par 4 fourteenth is drivable for the big hitters. The tee-shot is uphill and providing you miss the bunker on the left 50 yards from the green; a short pitch will result in another very good birdie chance.
The fifteenth is an uphill par 3 and although only 167 yards, consider taking an extra club. There are two bunkers at the front of the green and some very deep rough to the rear - club selection at this hole is important, there is not a lot of room for error.
The sixteenth is 349 yards and only a straight uphill drive will avoid the large mature trees on either side of the fairway. The approach is played to another tricky putting surface overlooked by the Camphill Monument, a column that commemorates the battles of Waterloo and Trafalgar.
The penultimate hole is a downhill 179-yard par 3 with a very testing tee-shot. A large tree on the left overhangs the fairway, so ideally, aim for the front right of the green and the ball will gather left towards the centre.
And finally a 379-yard par 4, with out of bounds all along the right and a fairway sloping left to right. The drive is tight and you do need to aim for the left side of the fairway. Find the short stuff and you will only have a shortish downhill approach to the green nestling in the corner - a very good finishing hole.
Alnwick's golf course is a real treat to play and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable golfing experience.
Address: Alnwick Golf Club, Swansfield Park, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 1AB
Telephone: Club - 01665 602 632 Secretary - 01665 602 499
Directions: From the A1 take the Alnwick slip road, turn left into Willowburn Ave (signposts for golf club), straight on at roundabout then turn left into Greensfield Ave and follow signs for golf course
Green fees: Weekdays - £20 a round, £30 a day. Weekends & Bank Hols - £22 a round, £30 a day. Juniors half price. Twilight Golf (from 3pm) £10 a round (any day)
Membership: Available - No joining fee. 18 months - full Gents/Ladies (To December 2009) - £450. 18 months - Country (To December 2009) - £350. Juniors (To December 2008) Under 16 years - £30, 16/17
Societies: Welcome - various packages available. For details - contact the Secretary on the above numbers
Buggies: £12.50 a round