The Course

Holes

White Yards273
Par4
Yellow Yards268
Stroke Index18
Red Yards268
Ladies Par4
Stroke Index11
Sponsored by

Hole 1 “Parkside”

An enticing opening hole on account of its shortness, its simplicity and the sense it must offer an ideal birdie opportunity because the green can still be in reach even after a poor opening drive. Yet danger lurks throughout. For instance, when the tee position is closest to the river, with only the green’s very front edge visible from the tee, even a leading tour pro would probably opt against a controlled hook directly to the green. Instead the prudent opening drive is straight down the centre of the fairway, to where it turns sharp left, and a short approach between the two front bunkers. A more direct line risks entanglement in the group of trees short and left of the green which grow higher by the year. A sharp hook and the river beckons, unless one of the line of tall beech trees marking the western boundary of the course intervenes. Anything drifting right risks an awkward lie among trees loitering beyond that edge of the fairway. Most players walk to the second tee satisfied with a par.

White Yards382
Par4
Yellow Yards373
Stroke Index8
Red Yards322
Ladies Par4
Stroke Index7
Sponsored by

Hole 2 “Castle”

Lumley Castle creates a lofty and majestic backdrop looking down on the fairway and provides a line from the tee either at its center or left hand tower. For many, the drive from a medal tee hard up against the out of bounds fence is intimidating, even reaching a flat lie on the fairway is an achievement. Because of the slope a half-decent strike drifting right can all too readily finish in a small copse. The hole then turns left, all the time climbing steadily to a small two-tier green making it play longer than the measured length, except in a westerly wind. The deep bunker short and left of the green is to be avoided while the bunker digging into the centre right hand-side is visited surprisingly infrequently. This is perhaps because, when the pin is sited on the lower tier (signalled by a red flag), a third or fourth shot from just short of the green is preferable to putting down from the upper tier.  From there stopping a putt by the pin can be an art form. If on any hole the pin is in the middle of the green, the flag is yellow. A white flag indicates a pin position on a top tier.

White Yards423
Par4
Yellow Yards402
Stroke Index10
Red Yards390
Ladies Par5
Stroke Index17
Sponsored by Cooper-BMW

Hole 3 “Spire”

The reward for the climb up the second fairway is to be returned back from where you have just come, plus a spectacular view of  the town and parish church (hence the name of the hole). Yet the two holes are quite separate, only a wild hook on either bothering players ahead or behind. This part of the course, in the original Lumley Park, has centuries old Beech, Ash and Oak trees dominating the landscape, planted long before anyone thought of adding a few golf holes. The positioning of the three tee boxes are quite separate but the longest drivers are advantaged, able to carry the huge trees that advance into either side of the early part of the fairway. More modest hitters must thread their tee-shots through to a fairway which, over its last hundred yards, falls steeply to the green, with anything short invariably kicking left. A high approach, landing directly on the raised green is best. The alternative, a low shot running down the slope, can in a dry spell run through the green into a hidden rear bunker, intended as a protection from the out of bounds. Neither outcome is attractive.

White Yards510
Par5
Yellow Yards500
Stroke Index14
Red Yards490
Ladies Par5
Stroke Index5
Sponsored byCoveris

Hole 4 “The Haughs”

A short walk, with Lumley Beck on the left, soon brings The Haughs into view, the second distinct area of the course. Opened in 1995, the landscape appears remarkably mature with trees and tall bushes replacing farmland which, although it was featureless before the arrival of golf, nevertheless contains some of the richest soil in the country. This is the first of two par fives on the course – the other appears only two holes later. The fourth dog-legs slightly right with the dense woodland of the Lumley estate providing a threatening out-of-bounds throughout the length of the hole. Standing on the tee with the green barely visible over 500 yards away, it is difficult to imagine Bob Stephenson, then 76, holed his second shot during a 2007 seniors tournament for that rarest of birds, an albatross – the only one in the club’s history. Usually the hole requires a drive avoiding three bunkers to the left, a second shot short of the narrow ditch crossing the fairway 80 yards from the green, a third stroke and two putts. Be cautious if the pin is directly behind the deep bunker at the front right of the green.

White Yards406
Par4
Yellow Yards391
Stroke Index6
Red Yards376
Ladies Par5
Stroke Index15
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Hole 5 “Watersedge”

The walk to the fifth tee is short but now the direction turns westerly into the prevailing wind, helping to make this the most difficult hole of the outward nine. Yet viewed from the slight elevation of the medal tee, the drive seems inviting enough. True, there are trees, bushes and undergrowth stretching all along the left while the first hint of the river encroaching from the right is only too obvious. Yet the landing area, if not the fairway, looks sufficiently broad. It is too easy to line up on the tallest tree in the far distance, be phased by the two bunkers on the left and allow a drive to drift right, maybe sufficient to make any shot to the green demanding, especially if it has to be played from among a growing clump of trees. If you pull your second shot the line of hawthorns stretching alongside the final part of the fairway on the left can be unforgiving. The green itself is comparatively flat but tightly bunkered at the front on both sides. Standing on the tee, all but the very best would accept a par.

 

White Yards557
Par5
Yellow Yards506
Stroke Index4
Red Yards486
Ladies Par5
Stroke Index3
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Hole 6 “Riverside”

The name of the hole derives from the River Wear – providing the right hand boundary throughout its length – rather than the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground occasionally visible in the mid-distance, which used to be called The Riverside Ground.  The river rarely receives a visit – not so the accompanying vegetation close to the fairway, particularly where an average drive or second shot might land. Similarly, there is little relief on the left, with uninviting territory the entire length of the hole. But waywardness is always possible with distance at a premium. This, the second and last par five, is the longest hole on the course. One advantage, though, is that from the tee the bunker on the left side of the fairway is out of reach for most players, as is the bunker on the right for second shots. The narrow green is well banked to both back and right and front bunkered on either side.

White Yards176
Par3
Yellow Yards161
Stroke Index16
Red Yards149
Ladies Par3
Stroke Index13
Sponsored bySRG

Hole 7 “Park View”

The first of three par threes on the course, the easiest at stroke index 16 and arguably the most pleasant.  The fairway trees don’t come into play and the green is easier to hit than on the 12th and the 16th. This green is also more receptive, sloping from back to front. There is not much rough, just a semi cut on both sides and if the ground’s firm, and if you are short but reasonably accurate, the ball will run on to the green.  There are three bunkers around the green – one on the right by the river and two on the left – and there is a lot of unseen ground between tee and green where the land falls.  The far left bunker, which is very deep, tends to be the most visited hazard on the hole.  The lower unforeseen land in front of the green encourages a misjudgement of distance and, with the wind usually right to left, it is tempting to be enticed into aiming too far wide of the river.

White Yards393
Par4
Yellow Yards366
Stroke Index12
Red Yards340
Ladies Par4
Stroke Index9
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Hole 8 “Bridges”

Probably the most straightforward hole on the outward half, yet still a testing par four. From the medal tee, looking backwards across the river to the park, one reason for the abundance of wildlife on the course is only too obvious with ducks, geese, swans, water-hens and even sea-gulls being fed a never ending supply of stale bread. On the left of the hole, the lush vegetation of trees and bushes bordering the fairway is impenetrable. Yet from the tee, the gap seems wide enough, a good drive beyond the two left bunkers often helped by a gentle slope towards the green. However everything moves right, bringing a fairway bunker into play from the tee for the longest hitters and, more significantly, a front right greenside bunker, visited far more frequently than its companion on the left. Little compensation that the green entrance is generous, and the mounds surrounding three sides prevent many shots running through to the undergrowth beyond.

White Yards438
Par4
Yellow Yards423
Stroke Index2
Red Yards374
Ladies Par4
Stroke Index1
Sponsored by

Hole 9 “Boat House”

The last hole of the outward half is a long, demanding par four. Part of the difficulty results from length. For many, for most of the year, two very good hits are needed, often a third. Shape is another problem, the hole bending further left than might appear at first glance from the tee. In fact, the most direct line involves a drive up the fourth fairway then an accurate if possibly risky shot over some trees. By contrast the designated route up the middle avoids a bunker short right, another further up on the left, and leaves a long second down a relatively narrow fairway. But there is room off the fairway on the right before dense undergrowth comes into play, though less space on the left. The green, sloping from the back is not easy to read although the entrance, bunkered on either side, is comparatively wide. A cottage behind the green, only recently demolished, gives the hole its name, a memory of days when the journey from castle to church needed a river crossing.

White Yards306
Par4
Yellow Yards301
Stroke Index9
Red Yards301
Ladies Par4
Stroke Index4
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Hole 10 “Road Hole”

Chester-le-Street’s version of the identically named hole at St Andrews but without its own road bunker – indeed, the only hole on the course without a bunker. Yet like its namesake it is praised and criticised in equal measure. The first of two holes on return to the Park, it is for most players a dog-leg right starting at river level before climbing steeply for the seventy or eighty yards immediately in front of the elevated green. Before that, a good drive needs to be far enough along the valley but not over far nor over left, to avoid the out of bounds woodland that falls away to the beck. A short drive to the right, especially beyond the road snaking its way up to the castle, is the direct route but is beset with problems. From the centre of the fairway the hole turns sharp right beyond a crop of developing trees. The approach up the hill ought to be straightforward enough but not for anything pulled left. For the longest hitters, though, the temptation to aim straight at the green carries various risks . . . of not carrying all of the tall trees on the right, of approaching the green sideways and of an awkward kick off the steep slope on its right hand-side, more so when the pin is sited on the small lower tier (red flag).

White Yards336
Par4
Yellow Yards316
Stroke Index17
Red Yards316
Ladies Par4
Stroke Index12
Sponsored by D&W-BELL

Hole 11 “Clubhouse Corner”

A short but craftily designed par four with much of the play determined by a small copse of ancient beech trees on the right hand side of the fairway, straddling the direct route from tee to green,. The drive, from a tee close by the castle boundary, ought to offer few problems if held left to avoid the inevitable bounce towards the copse. And there is ample room further wide even if it doesn’t appear so from the tee. However, the drive down the designer line must either be short of the two bunkers in the centre of the fairway or beyond. Too far though and the out of bounds of the road to the castle can come into play. The approach, from the middle of the fairway down to river level, can look inviting enough. But beware. The green is small, very narrow at the front, built up on three sides, delighting in throwing slightly misplaced shots off both left and right or, worse, the back. It’s the sort of hole where a three beckons on the tee but all too often is converted into a five, occasionally more.

White Yards170
Par3
Yellow Yards155
Stroke Index11
Red Yards160
Ladies Par3
Stroke Index10
Sponsored by Tarmac

Hole 12 “Ha-Ha”

This start to the Home Field – the last of the three distinct areas of the course – brings the second of the par threes. A comparatively straightforward hole, it climbs gently but steadily from a tee overlooked by the inviting clubhouse bar to a green only just outside the grounds of the castle. Hence the name, referring to an ancient hidden ditch close behind the green, invisible from the tee but not to be visited – invariably resulting in either a penalty drop or, more likely, a tramp back to the tee. The ditch, originally intended to prevent livestock wandering too close to the castle, apparently provided insufficient protection from golfers when the then Earl of Scarborough sanctioned the first course design in 1909, meaning another twenty years before the hole could be brought into play. Then, as now, the slope leading up to the green leaves the flag, but not the hole, visible from the tee, although the entrance, between deep bunkers is relatively wide. The slope from the back can be beguiling with the embarrassment of a firmly struck putt running down and off never far away.

White Yards379
Par4
Yellow Yards366
Stroke Index3
Red Yards306
Ladies Par4
Stroke Index14
Sponsored by

Hole 13 “Broadwood”

If a tee-shot finishing in the Ha-Ha ditch is a rarity at the short twelfth, at this hole it is commonplace with the ditch now parallel to the line of play on the left, providing a tight out of bounds turning into a fence when the ditch runs out. This hole belies its name, Broadwood, as  the trees narrow it on either side. There is ample space, but only on the far right and on the parallel fourteenth hole. Closer to the fairway, a poor drive often ends in Hodgson’s trench – a gravel based drainage ditch running in the direction of the hole – while all too often even a good tee shot can be hindered by a large hawthorn bush intruding well into the right hand side of the fairway. A straight drive leaves an attractive second shot, the fairway sloping gently to the green. But a mishit in either direction leaves a trying shot from the long grass surrounding numerous groups of trees. The green entrance is narrow with the boundary fence only a few paces to its the left, while the collection of bunkers front right and left require a controlled recovery shot to save par.

White Yards363
Par4
Yellow Yards350
Stroke Index15
Red Yards350
Ladies Par4
Stroke Index8
Sponsored by

Hole 14 “The View”

Another par four, still in the area of the original Broadwood, starts with a tee shot from well beyond the previous green back in the opposite direction. A wild shot right can easily find the parallel thirteenth fairway. Yes, it lengthens the hole because the intervening trees have to be carried but a shot to the green is always possible. Not so from a good drive just off the right hand edge of the narrow fairway. The ball might sit well – none of the trees are particularly large – yet neither room for a full swing nor a clear route to the green are guaranteed. The potential injustice can prove even greater down the left where the trees are thicker and pushing more into the fairway. The angle to the green from way out wide is more attractive and less cluttered. The ideal is a long and straight drive, leaving the very hardest hitters close to the green and pitching to the largest, flattest putting surface on the course, before enjoying another splendid view to the town and beyond.

White Yards455
Par4
Yellow Yards445
Stroke Index1
Red Yards438
Ladies Par5
Stroke Index2
Sponsored by

Hole 15 “Long Haul”

The longest par four on the course, justifiably stroke index one and aptly named – only a minority of members ever having reached the green in two. Frustratingly, nestling in front of a crop of tall conifers, the green is clearly visible for the full length of the hole with the fairway climbing gently but steadily – especially in the latter part. The fairway may be relatively narrow but is largely untroublesome apart from occasional trees running up either side, thickening at drive length on the left and merging with bushes and undergrowth on the right close by the green. For most players the most severe obstacle is a deep bunker, fairway wide, eighty yards from the green. Playing short of it might make for a relatively straightforward approach but as a third shot. Even then problems remain. The shot has to be part directed towards the out-of-bounds only two or three yards from the putting surface. A deep bunker front right always threatens while the slope of the green has many times hastened a three putt. For most golfers, a par is both a rarity and an achievement.

White Yards192
Par3
Yellow Yards182
Stroke Index5
Red Yards135
Ladies Par3
Stroke Index18
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Hole 16 “Home Turn”

A walk through the conifers, at the highest point on the course  brings the sixteenth tee and the last and most demanding of the par threes. Part of the difficulty arises from length, approaching two hundred yards, some from the intimidating gorse bushes immediately in front of the tees, but most derives from features around the green. The most obvious is a deep bunker guarding the right hand entrance ten yards short. A visit there rarely yields a par. Beyond are another two bunkers, mostly hidden from the tee, running down the right side of the green. A fourth bunker, back left, is also barely visible from the tee. Add these to the adjacent out-of-bounds fence on the left – now dwarfed by hawthorns – a relatively shallow entrance, which hides both a steep drop beyond the green plus subtle borrows and it is not hard to appreciate why the hole is both the most difficult short hole of the round but also the third hardest hole on the course according to competition scores. At least though, as the name suggests, walking from the green you turn for home.

White Yards373
Par4
Yellow Yards352
Stroke Index7
Red Yards349
Ladies Par4
Stroke Index6
Sponsored byW'ton-Components

Hole 17 “Riggs”

The final two holes head directly back towards the clubhouse and are both helped whenever the wind is anywhere near southerly. The first of these is a flat, comparatively straightforward par four; its name relating to a series of regular undulations running at right angles to the direction of play. The undulations probably date back to when the land was farmed. So the length of a drive can be highly dependent on chance, that is where it lands. Even a forward bounce rarely proves long enough to reach the small ditch that eats into the left hand edge of the fairway ninety yards from the green. But that remains the favoured side. There is space, if not fairway, before the undergrowth guarding the practice ground intrudes on the left. In contrast, any shot from out right – even on the edge of the fairway – must contend with strategically positioned trees, with thicker woodland running much of the length of the hole. The shot to the green needs to avoid front bunkers on either side, although the opening is wide enough. But better to aim left for an up-hill putt, away from the river.

White Yards347
Par4
Yellow Yards329
Stroke Index13
Red Yards323
Ladies Par4
Stroke Index16
Sponsored by

Hole 18 “Cestria”

The eighteenth leading down to the clubhouse provides, as befits a final hole, the most inviting of drives with the bonus of an unhindered view of the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground on the other side of the river. But there are dangers. There is room on the left but that soon turns into unplayable rough while any of the trees on the way can easily obscure a shot to the green. The problems on the other side are potentially greater. The ideal tee-shot on the right side of the fairway – to avoid the kick left and down – all too readily drifts further right. Then it might be long grass, large conifers, other trees, a sloping lie but, whichever, a direct shot to the green can prove all but impossible. So a drive straight down the middle is ideal. Yet, however short, never under-estimate the approach shot nor the resultant putt. The green is narrow, slopes sufficiently from the right to throw even a firmly struck shot off left while the variation in gradient means no guarantee of two putts. It might be the most likely hole for a birdie but, most times, a par is highly satisfactory.