We profile four places to get a game of golf near this beautiful university city

Durham City
This course is a delight, running uphill and down alongside the River Browney on the early holes and through woodland.

Durham City is one of the oldest inland clubs in England, having been inaugurated in 1887, but this is its third site. This course was only built in the mid 1970s.

Durham City Hole 1

The 1st hole at Durham City Golf Club

There is good variety to the holes. The opening ones are tight and the river lurks on the right on some, including the pretty 3rd and the 6th with its fierce sloping bank to the right of the green.

Durham City has 19 holes. The par-3 7th is only used in summer – because the trees around it provide a screen which hinders its winter condition – and so there is another part-time par-3, which comes in at 11 on the winter card.

Hartlepool
About half an hour from the city of Durham is Hartlepool’s attractive course. Sadly some of the prettiest parts of this course have been tumbling into the sea, including the original tee on 7.

This hole is short – 111 yards from the whites – with a chasm before the shallow green and a steep run off behind. In competitions this hole often plays the hardest, but the club thought it would look daft on the scorecard having a stroke index one hole of 111 yards.

Hartlepool 7th hole

Hartlepool’s 111-yard 7th is deceptively difficult

Hartlepool has some links holes around the turn which are particularly pretty. he best stretch of holes come from 5 to 8. The 5th is a par-3 as a crescent around the cliffs. The 6th is a par 4 played blind to a tight fairway with the green atop a rise and well protected by bunkers.

The 8th is a long par-4 dogleg, the tee set high in the sand hills and offering a panoramic view of course and coastline.

Ramside
There were three nine-hole courses at Ramside Golf Club: Bishop’s, Prince’s and Cathedral. But the first two have merged, into a course called Bishop Prince’s and the last has been redesigned into a new 18-hole Cathedral course.

The Prince Bishop is exposed and on windy days the elements play a huge part. So long as you avoid the artificial lakes splashed about the layout, it is hard to lose a ball as the woodland is well spaced and cleared underneath.

Ramside Hall Hotel & Golf Club, Cathedral Course

Ramside Hall Hotel & Golf Club, Cathedral Course

The 4th gives far-reaching views and is the prettiest hole on the front nine and the Dormy House behind this tee is where Martin Shaw stays when filming Inspector George Gently. The 13th is the back nine’s beauty.

One of the old Cathedral holes lingers on in the design of the new 18-hole Cathedral course. The architect for this was Jonathan Gaunt, who designed the other courses here. The new Cathedral has been designed to have a heathland element in places and other areas run through mature woodland.

Seaton Carew
Seaton Carew’s 22 holes are configured into four different layouts, only one of which is available to play at any one time. The Old Course was designed by Alister MacKenzie.

Four of these holes were on land not owned by the club, and when it seemed that this land was going to be sold, the club employed Frank Pennink to create four replacements. These were on new land formed by the sea retreating and, in The Gare, has the prettiest hole on the course, played into dunes which were not there when MacKenzie laid out his track.

Seaton Carew's Gare hole

Seaton Carew’s Gare hole

But the land was not sold. So the Old Course remained and the Brabazon course was formed with Pennink’s four new holes included. The Old Course is the one most played, but the Brabazon is the championship layout.

With few fairway bunkers, Seaton Carew is receptive to the bump-and-run approach. This tactic also helps combat the elements on this exposed stretch of land. Another feature of the course is that, bar on one hole, the flag can always been seen from the tee but the sea can only be glimpsed from one tee.