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The Northumberland

Yardage
6683
Par
72
SSS
72
Built
1898
Architect(s)
Colt and Braid
Nature:
Fine turf across the centre of Gosforth Park race course. A championship course with typical Colt/Braid bunkering
Location/Address:
15 minutes north of the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne in High Gosforth Park. (postcode: NE3 5HT)
http://www.thengc.co.uk
Secretary
Jamie Forteath
Telephone
0191 236 2498
Professional
-
Green Keeper
Gordon Proudlock
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Access Policy:
Visitors welcome
Dog Policy:
No dogs
Open Meetings:
None
Fees in 1960s
37p
Fees today
£50 per round WD

Review

The North East is only sparsely populated with Fine courses but The Northumberland Golf Club, founded in 1898 by a group of local merchants, stands out. The Club’s history is interwoven with the racecourse company based in High Gosforth Park on the north side of Newcastle. Inaugurally, all its Directors became Vice Presidents of the golf course, which winds its way across the open area of the race course itself.

Before the new, big, lush target, courses were built from around the 1980s, The Northumberland regularly hosted professional tournaments like the Senior Service Tournament that attracted a crowd of 30,000 in 1966. The Club has hosted The Brabazon and continues to host many top Amateur – particularly national ladies’ and youth – events.

This Club has strong traditions and, reading its centenary history book, there are copious examples of the humorous and gentlemanly approach to behaviour by members and sensible behind-the-scene words, to minimise embarrassment to anybody contravening the Club’s high standards.

The odd person has called it a ‘stuffy’ club and there is no doubt its fine qualities of excellence are well defended while moving with the times.

clubhouse from 8th green

clubhouse from 8th green

Recently some of the dark wood panelling of the interior of the Clubhouse has given way to an airy bay window that overlooks the 18th green, much enhancing the accommodation, and the locker room facilties are finished to a high standard.

The original course was redesigned by both Harry Colt and James Braid over a number of visits and, though the land is reasonably level apart from the 1st and 18th, they created a classic challenge with strategic bunkering, often 100 yards out from the green and posing interesting questions. The land has some of the heathland characteristics of heather and gorse and the fairways, being 80% bent and fescue grasses, have an uplifting crispness.

There are a few clumps of trees but they are not a main feature (as on many parkland courses) as race-goers wish to see how the horses are faring on the far side of the race-track!

The course is well balanced and a fine test without any particular hole standing out. You will need all the clubs in your bag and, if on your game, with long straight driving, you will be well satisfied. The fast greens, normally cut at 3mm, have 40% poa grass in them and it is recognised that the higher the percentage of fine grasses, the easier it is to produce first-class surfaces all the year round.

2nd green from 8th green

2nd green from 8th green

The 13th is thought to be the hardest hole and is certainly tight, lying between the race-course railings and a wood on the outside of the course.

The 14th is in a pretty setting, which unfortunately did not come into it, as is recalled, when: “one member, playing in a mixed foursomes, found his lady opponent’s ball in an impossible place in the heather. Being a true gentleman, he kicked it into a decent lie, whereupon the lady produced a rule book to see who had won the hole!”

Although inland, there is often a wind and the prevailing westerly gives a great matchplay finish to a fine course of 6683 yards, Par 72, SSS 72.

There is no professional based at the Club, which undoubtedly is the best inland course between Ganton and Scotland. Similar to Blackwell and Little Aston, this is an exceptional club with a fine course rather than an exceptional course with a fine club.

See: 100 Years a The Park, The Northumberland Golf Club Story 1898-1998; Part I is by George Harbottle and Part II by Stanley Middleton.

Review by Lorne Smith 2008.      Leave us a comment below

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