Graeme Bailey takes in one of the North East’s finest golf courses – this time visiting the region’s oldest, Alnmouth.
Graeme Bailey travelled to the Northumbrian coast, to Alnmouth – home to the oldest club in the North East, the fourth oldest in England:
Dating back to 1869, Alnmouth is tucked away on the coast in the very pleasant surroundings of Foxton Hall.
Arriving at the venue, it is a pleasant oldy-worldy old club house, but very picturesque and in keeping with the surroundings.
Having read up on Alnmouth prior to the visit, and given its coastal location – it was hard to get our heads around the idea of a parkland course in a links location, but that soon disappeared from our thoughts as the course captured our imagination and pulled us in.
The first hole is a longish tester with a slight dogleg – an archetypal par-four which could be found on any inland course.
But then as you approach the second tee, you can see the sea for the first time and it makes for a fascinating location.
The second is an excellent par-four again and the first par of the day arrives as I put the four-putt on the opening hole behind me.
The third and fourth are par fours and require precession drives. Already one thing becoming clear is how different each hole is – a clear sign of the course’s age and something younger more acclaimed tracks suffer with by comparison.
The fifth hole is a breathtaking par three. All down the left is the beach, but again it is somewhat surreal that we are playing on lush green, well-kept grass when the dunes are literally in touching distance down the other side.
The sixth again utilises the beach to the left and, being a par four, the drives are in danger – and to my chagrin, I shank my drive onto the beach ready for one of the many dog walkers to find!
The second drive is not much better as my playing partner Adam Carter, playing off 16, drives down the middle and up to green without even noticing the undulating dunes to the other side.
We tackle the dog-leg seventh and the par three eighth with relative ease before the ninth brings us back to the club house.
Only just over 300 yards long, it is anything but simple with 10 bunkers protecting the fairway and green – but we both negotiate it well and carry a par to the tenth.
The short walk from the ninth takes you past the club house to the back stretch and if anything the views are even more stunning as the sea is always in view.
The tenth is a short par four with little trouble, and the 11th is a straightforward par three – but as per these are two of our worst holes and pars are nowhere to be seen on either scorecard.
One thing you will notice about playing of the yellow tees at Alnmouth is that there is only one par five, whereas off the whites there are an extra two. But the course is that interesting that you really hardly notice this.
A point in case is the 13th. A long, long par four which needs two pretty big shots to make it green side – fortunately I manage this to take a very nice par.
The 14th and 15th are both up-hill dog-legs, the first going right, the second swinging back left and the latter proves very costly to us both as we find this the most testing hole of the day.
That brings us onto the 16th and, just when we thought the course had shown us all it had in store, we are greeted with an awe-inspiring view. A slight dog-leg downhill, very long par five – with the sea dominating the distance.
Myself and Adam are agreed that you would be hard pushed to find a better looking tee-shot anywhere in the country, let alone the North East – and indeed the view seems to inspire us both as we claim pars following two great drives.
The 17th is a long par three which then brings us to the 18th – again a stunning tee position has Alnmouth beach all down the right with the clubhouse awaiting us and you can genuinely see the Harry Colt architecture in place.
We finish again with pars and to my amazement I have shot an 82, one of my best of the year – but without doubt the most enjoyable.
Adam, nearer 90, and I both agree that few courses in the North East can deliver what is on offer at Alnmouth.
The fact the course is Parkland but in a Links location is truly in its favour – nobody could argue that Alnmouth lacks interest, any golfer of any standard would truly appreciate what is on offer in this idyllic location.
Honestly there are harder courses up and down the coast, but you not have a more enjoyable round anywhere in the North East or the country.
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