For 140 years golf has been played on the links at Alnmouth and it is easy to understand why visitors return time and time again to savour the delights on offer - this is the oldest nine-hole course in England and steeped in history. Founded back in 1869, the initial nine holes were designed and created by the legendary Mungo Park, winner of the Open Championship in 1874. Following his win on the Musselburgh Links, Park spent his life as a teacher, golf course designer and club maker.
In 1905 and under the direction of Willie Park, the course was extended to 18-holes using the hillside overlooking the links and Alnmouth Bay. In 1930, renowned golf architect H. S. Colt was commissioned to create what is now Alnmouth Golf Club at Foxton Hall.
Colt combined the hillside holes of the original course with a new nine holes to the north of the Hall leaving the links holes on the coast intact. Six years later, Alnmouth Village Golf Club was formed to take over and run the links as a separate club.
Both clubs maintain strong links and once a year they play a competition over the 1905 course, with members from each club partnered together playing for the Centenary trophy - locally known as the 'Upper and Downer'.
Many famous names of the past have visited Alnmouth links, including Harry Vardon, JH Taylor, Tom Morris and more recently HRH The Prince of Wales and Ronan Rafferty in his quest to play all the links courses in Great Britain and Ireland.
The picturesque coastal village of Alnmouth dates back to 1150. It lies four miles from the feudal castle and town of Alnwick, and because it could be navigated by small craft it became the most important medieval seaport between the Tweed and the Tyne. Following the construction of the east coast railway between London and Edinburgh, the carriage of goods became much cheaper and signalled its decline as a seaport.
Today, Alnmouth remains a beautiful and fascinating village with a variety of hotels and restaurants, pubs and coffee shops, gift shops and many other attractions for visitors to enjoy.
And to add a little spice to your visit to the village, the famous Schooner Hotel, only 100 yards from the beach and golf course, has the reputation for being 'The Most Haunted Hotel' in Great Britain and has been featured in the television series 'Most Haunted'.
There are plenty of challenges to be had at Alnmouth Village, from the rolling fairways which complicate otherwise straightforward club selection to the tricky, hard-to-read greens that threaten to play havoc with your short game.
If you have a tendency to hit the ball left to right, this course will cure you of that problem and it is definitely not one for the long, wayward hitters. In places the fairways are very narrow, flanked by a huge, bracken-covered hill on one side and the dunes and beach on the other.
And although it is only a nine-hole course, there are additional teeing areas so it can be played as eighteen-holes and ideal for those who have made a mess of the front nine and want to rectify matters!!!
Played as 18-holes, the course measures 6090 yards from the back tees and is a par 71 with a standard scratch of 70. From the yellows, it measures 5654yards and the reds 5188 yards. 1st & 10th
The 1st and 10th at Alnmouth is a 199-yard par 3 and quite a tough opening hole. The tee shot is played to a slightly raised green with deep rough on the left and the tee boxes for the next hole on the right. With the green falling away on three sides, it is not an easy target and you will do well to find the putting surface with the first shot of your round. There are no bunkers to worry about but miss this green and you will have a tricky up and down to save par.
2nd & 11th
It might pay to leave the driver in the bag at the next, a 350-yard par 4. Leak the ball right at this one and you will be in danger of going out of bounds and if you are lucky enough to stay on the correct side of the fence, the ball will disappear into some very deep undergrowth. The approach is played to a two-tiered green located in a slight dip defended by two bunkers on the left and another back right. Aim for the front right of this green and the ball should gather down the slope onto the long narrow putting surface.
3rd & 12th
At just over 300 yards, this hole is a short par 4 with the out of bounds all along the right. Favour the left side of the fairway from the tee and the approach should be nothing more than a short pitch over a big mound just short of the green. There are two bunkers on the left and similar to the previous hole, a shot played to the right side of the green will gather back towards the centre of a long putting surface sloping from front to back.
4th & 13th
This is a par 4 measuring 386 yards with out of bounds very tight to the right. The fairway is not visible from the tee and with all the humps and hollows in front of you, the drive can be intimidating. Again, aim to the left side of the fairway to leave a semi-blind second shot over a large hump. The tricky green falls away to the left and slopes back to front and left to right - miss this one left and you will be facing a very difficult chip to save par.
5th & 14th
This is another short par 4, only 294 yards with out of bounds tight right and the dreaded bracken-covered hill on the left. Only the bravest or reckless will chance a driver at this hole, a long iron or utility club should find the safety of the fairway. The bunkerless green is a very small target, banked to the right and falling away to the left. A good safe tee shot and a little flick on should result in a birdie chance at this hole.
6th & 15th
You will either love or hate this hole, a 309-yard par 4 played steeply up the hill to the highest point of the course. The blind tee
shot is one helluva challenge even for the low handicappers and if you find the short stuff, the green is located on a tabletop with unforgiving slopes on both sides. A driver at this one is not an option; you need to get the ball air-born quickly and as straight as possible. The approach is also steeply uphill to a slightly two-tiered green with no room for error - a card-wrecker of a golf hole.
7th & 16th
Having successfully negotiated the last hole, take a breather to admire one of the finest views in Northumberland - it is absolutely stunning.
The 7th and 16th is a 385-yard par 4 played from the top of the hill where you might be tempted to open the shoulders but beware, any tee shot going right and you will be digging in the bag for another ball. Aim for the left of centre and you should be left with a simple approach to a bunkerless green sloping back to front, left to right and falling away to the right.
8th & 17th
Played as the par 4 8th, this hole is a monster and at 473 yards out of range for the average golfer. Only the longest of hitters will be able to get home in two and for most, a chip and single putt to save par will be the only option. Make a couple of fours here and you can definitely give yourself a pat on the back. The green at this one has a bunker front left, another back right and slopes left to right.
Second time round, the hole plays as a 486-yard par 5 and relatively straightforward. Find the fairway from the tee and following a sensible second shot and short chip, you should be putting for birdie.
9th & 18th
The final hole is less than 350 yards with no real trouble and a nice wide fairway to aim at. There is a large pond on the right but if you find that you should be thinking about booking some golf lessons. There are no bunkers to worry about but there is out of bounds at the rear of the green should you take too much club.
And then it's into the small quaint clubhouse for a well deserved drink and some terrific home-cooked food.
This demanding picturesque course provides an ideal setting for a round of golf. And the spirit of the club is summarised in the Grace always used at Alnmouth's Club Dinners - "For Good Fellowship, for Foxton, and for what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful."
Course Name: Alnmouth Village Golf Club
Address: Marine Road, Alnmouth, Northumberland, NE66 2RZ
Contact: 01665 830 370 Fax: 01665 830 370
Location: From the north and south, take the A1 to Alnwick and then the A1068 to Alnmouth. On entering Alnmouth, turn right at the roundabout and drive through the village then turn left at the signpost for car parks. The golf club is situated at the bottom of the hill on the left.
Green Fees: Winter Special (Mon-Wed-Thur-Fri-Sat) till 30/4/09 Coffee & Bacon Roll + Round of Golf - £14.50 Must be Pre-Booked 1/5/09 onwards - £20 a round all week Juniors half price
Membership: Adults - £265 (No joining fee) Juniors under 14 - £30, 14 to 17 - £45, 18 to 21 - £100. Social Membership - £15
Societies: Various packages available - details can be obtained on the above contact numbers
Buggies: Not available