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35 miles N of Newcastle city centre
“The best compliment I can
pay to Alnmouth is this,” wrote Bernard Darwin in A Round of Golf on the
LNER (first published in 1925), “that after playing two rounds of it,
carrying my own clubs in a stiff south-west wind, it was only with the greatest
difficulty that I restrained myself from playing a third…”
“… One thing must be said, a little regretfully, about Alnmouth, there is not quite enough of it. Nature intended it to be a nine-hole course. The narrow undulating strip of golfing country between the sandhills on one side and the high grassy hills on the other must have been ideal for nine holes in the days of the ‘gutty’… Then, since the nine holes grew crowded, another nine holes had to be added on the summit of those grassy hills.”
The following article was written by Sean Arble who nominated Alnmouth Village as an English GEM in May 2018.
The 1874 Open was of historical importance because it was the first time the 9-hole Musselburgh links hosted the event. All eyes were on the high flying duo of Young Tom Morris and Willie Park, who already possessed seven Open titles between them. However, it was the ex-seaman and younger brother of Willie Park, Mungo, who carried the day on the back of a 37 & 38, posted over the first two rounds.
While successful, Mungo seems to have been in the shadow of his older brother’s (Willie) success in all aspects of golf, including architecture. However, true or not, it is fitting that some credit Mungo with the design of Alnmouth Village GC.
What is certain is that Mungo was the first professional for this pocket-size 9 hole links wedged between the winsome village and Alnmouth Bay. Established in 1869, it’s thought this is the oldest 9-hole links in England, but let’s not use this descriptor as a way to diminish the quality of the course. With lovely terrain and high quality turf, Alnmouth Village is the real deal.
It’s easy to confuse the Village Club with the much newer Harry Colt-designed Alnmouth Golf Club next door on higher ground. For a short period Alnmouth Golf Club had two courses, the upper and downer, until the Village Club was formed in 1936 and took over the management of the downer links. This in itself isn’t odd until we note that the parish has less than five hundred residents! While the links seem a sleepy affair these days, Alnmouth was one of twenty-four clubs which controlled the Amateur until the R&A took the reins in 1919.
Holes 2-7 all have something to shout about, but #s 2, 5 & 6 are exceptional. The second features a runway green. Hard on the beach, the fifth is a short par four to the corner of the property. Having run out of space, the 6th turns inland and a blind drive is sharply uphill. That isn't all; the volcano green is a tough target and makes this an All-England candidate. We now play downhill and toward the charming golf pavilion which hasn't changed much in over a hundred years.Alnmouth Village impressed me greatly and I can only wonder why it wasn't included in the True Links tome. I hope to return during a summer period when the course is in its glory, much as it was all those years ago.