FEW clubs have changed as dramatically as Heworth going into the 21st Century.
Back in 1986, Heworth purchased the freehold of their 18-hole course at Gingling Gate just off the A1 for £70,000.
The course had been extended from nine to 18 holes only 10 years before but that £70,000 was money well spent. In fact, it proved a bargain and was the catalyst for a spate of improvements which turned the Gateshead course into an excellent lay-out.
Those improvements included course irrigation in 1990 followed by a four-year tree planting programme.
As if that wasn’t enough, Heworth then built a magnificent £560,000 clubhouse, combining the last word in facilities and comfort while managing to retain the warm atmosphere and friendliness that characterised the old one.
That old clubhouse was then transformed into the flourishing golf retail outlet with Adrian and Warren Marshall at the helm.
On the course, further improvements included a new green at the seventh, new tee at the eighth, new bunkers and mounding at 11 and 16. Further plans have seen extra length added to the seventh and 12th.
So the club approaches its centenary in 2012 in fine fettle and ready to celebrate in style after a top-notch 2010 with success at league and county level, as they won the North Durham Union Championship for the first time in one of the tightest finishes in the 63 years of the league.
In the last game of the season, Heworth managed to top the table with 124 points, one ahead of South Moor.
Another highlight was the inaugural 36-hole Keith Shivers Bowl – the third event in the ZFL North East Masters Series – which attracted a top-class entry. The event was started in memory of Keith Shivers, who sadly died in April 2009, and the bowl was donated to the club by friends of Keith.
The year also ended on a high note for Heworth when Faye Sanderson and Terry McAllister won the Durham County Mixed Foursomes Championship, defeating South Moor’s Rebecca McGinley and Neil Harker-Bell at Crook in an exciting final.
It needed a birdie on the last to close out the championship and that meant a sixth county mixed foursomes title for Faye, two of them in a row with Terry as a partner.
Faye, an England cap, also captained the England Girls team to another success in the Home Internationals.
Last year, the club hosted the Durham v Yorkshire Northern Counties League clash and next year the Durham County Championship will be at the Gingling Gate course. They will also host the English Seniors County Finals.
The original Heworth Golf Club was opened in June 1912. The course currently stands at a 6,421 yards with a par 71 from the white tees, a 6,180 yards par 71 from the yellow tees and a 5,581 yards par 73 from the red tees.
The course is pretty much a parkland course with tree-lined holes, excellent fairways and some of the best greens in the North East of England, thanks to the work carried out on irrigation and drainage.
Before the trees became established, Heworth looked and felt more like an inland links course with holes separated by rough with fast-running fairways and large firm greens.
The first three holes and the last six holes were the original nine holes and include most of the shorter holes. However, the fourth to the 12th are a much tougher test and include four par fours over 400 yards and two excellent par fives while the two finishing holes deserve a special mention as they are as challenging as any on the course.
Hole 1 Par 4 (White 341/ Yellow 321/Red 309) Gingling Gate
The first is a short par 4 to start, but there is out of bounds down the right- hand side which also runs close around the back off the green and with trees on the left and three fairway bunkers, this is not that easy a tee shot followed by an approach to a well-guarded green that slopes from right to left with a shelf that runs straight through the middle.
Hole 2 Par 4 (366/320/297) Three Horseshoes
Another par four but it plays downhill and often with the prevailing wind so can be shorter than the yardage suggests, but again there’s out of bounds down the right side and a ditch runs across the fairway which then turns 90 degrees and continues to run down the right to the green which has a tricky and undulating surface and slopes front to back.
Hole 3 Par 3 (124/119/114) Mouse Trap
Short and easy? Forget it! It’s not named Mouse Trap for nowt. The wind can fool you big time and the hole is well guarded by four bunkers and a small run-off area back left. The green itself slopes left to right and back to front with a small shelf three-quarters up the green. Take a par and run!
Hole 4 Par 4 (383/378/320) Tunnel
More out of bounds on the right and more trees on both sides and if the OB isn’t enough, there is also heavy rough down the right-hand side. There are also two well-placed fairway bunkers but a good tee shot will leave a long to mid iron into a generous green that has a ditch running across the front and a big bunker on the right.
Hole 5 Par 4 (437/423/359) Chimneys
A real cracker with more trees right and left and out of bounds on the right again making this a tight driving hole and the fairway slopes left to right. Watch out for the two hedgerows 150 yards from the green which is protected by three bunkers and slopes front to back.
Hole 6 Par 3 (177/161/150) Dixielanders
A mid-length par three which plays slightly uphill and usually into the prevailing wind. It is well-guarded by bunkers left and right with a narrow entrance to the green which again slopes back to front with a small shelf. Par is a good score here.
Hole 7 Par 4 (374/368/330) Pebble Creek
Another par four which is not hugely long but it is one of the harder tee shots because it is probably the tightest hole on the course with tees left and right and deep rough on the right. A good tee shot leaves a shot to a green that is protected by a ditch that runs across the front and large bunkers left and right.
Hole 8 Par 4 (378/346/333) Gap
A dog-leg right to left par four with deep rough right and trees left, it also has a fairway bunker on the corner of the dog-leg. You can take it on and a good tee shot will leave an approach to an undulating greens protected by three bunkers.
Hole 9 Par 5 (496/473/418) Round the Bend
It may not be a long par five but it dog-legs left to right and there is yet more out of bounds, deep rough and trees so hitting the fairway is essential, as is avoiding the fairway bunker on the left with your second shot. Do that and the short iron third is to a big green with mounding on the left and two bunkers on the right.
Hole 10 Par 4 (442/429/394) Whitemare Pool
A good old-fashioned (and what’s wrong with that) long par four with trees left and right. A good tee shot is needed. Do that and it’s a mid iron, but most could be looking at a rescue of fairway wood into a green that has bunkers front right and left. Better to be long than short.
Hole 11 Par 5 (562/555/471) Wrekendyke
A proper par four followed by a proper par five – a long par five with out of bounds, deep rough and trees running all the way up the right. You have watch those trees on the left but a good tee shot and a good second will leave a relatively straightforward approach into a big green protected by two bunkers.
Hole 12 Par 4 (444/435/422) Airport
Another proper par four! Pretty long with trees right and left and four fairway bunkers, two of them 220 yards from the green and two 100 yards from the green which has mounding on the right and a run-off area back left. It’s one of the biggest greens on the course sloping front to back and right to left.
Hole 13 Par 5 (504/494/454) Palmers Hall
Not a huge par five but trees and deep rough all the way up the right and more trees up the left, plus a slight dog-leg from left to right, makes it tricky and there are two bunkers 150 yards from the green which also has two pot bunkers and run-off areas, and if you manage to stay on the green, it has some subtle breaks.
Hole 14 Par 4 (295/293/293) Monument
Relief at last. A short par four with trees either side and fairway bunkers left and right. But you can get close with a big drive and a good tee shot will also leave a short iron in to a generous green that has two small bunkers at the front.
Hole 15 Par 3 (158/151/143) Ditch
A big green with bunkers left and right so club selection is vital for the tee shot on this par three. The green has a big slope from front to back and it can be a tricky two putt from above the hole.
Hole 16 Par 4 (306/297/248) Follingsby
A shortish par four with two mounds just off the fairway and three well-placed fairway bunkers so it needs a good tee shot to leave a short iron into a tricky green with a pot bunker on the right and two big swales that run across the green from front to back. Again a tricky two putt if you’re on the wrong side.
Hole 17 Par 4 (406/395/314) Long Pull
Another strong par four which plays slightly uphill with trees right and left and normally into the prevailing wind to a three-tier sloping green which will test your putting. The green also has two bunkers at the front. Four is a great score.
Hole 18 Par 3 (228/222/212) Castle
What a cracker to finish and a real card-wrecker. There is out of bounds left, right and long and there are also four bunkers protecting this big green that slopes left to right, and many will opt to play it as a par four.
Name: The Heworth Golf Club
Address: Gingling Gate, Heworth, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, NE10 8XY
Telephone: 0191 469 9832; Fax: 0191 469 9898. Pro: 0191 438 4223
Email: Secretary: firstname.lastname@example.org and administrator: Bernie@theheworthgolfclub.co.uk
Location: Heworth is located just off the A1/A194 and A184 Felling Bypass and the B1288 road towards Springwell. Turn right at the traffic lights at the junction on B1288 and the entrance to the car park is 50 yards on the right-hand side.
Membership (2010 rates): Men £560, seniors £365, women £390, Seniors £255, Juniors, under-14 £65, under-16 £85, under-18 £100.Green fees: Summer rate – weekdays and weekends £25 without a member, £15 with a member. Winter rate – £15 without a member, £12 with a member.