Formed in 1892, when golfers first played on a 9-hole course within Tyne Green Country Park, Hexham Golf Club moved less than a mile west to its present location in 1907. Harry Vardon, one of the Great Triumvirate, had a hand in designing this new layout and the setting out of an 18-hole course within such a compact 80-acre property was quite an architectural accomplishment for the 6-time Open champion.
James Braid visited the club in April of 1921, tightening up a number of fairways by installing cross bunkers, repositioning a couple of greens and lengthening at least one of the holes. When more land on the Spital estate became available in the early 1950s, the club engaged Ken Cotton to remodel the layout and he reconfigured eleven holes on the existing site and added seven new ones on the newly acquired ground.
In the modern era, the course now extends to 6,294 yards from the back markers, playing to a par of 70. The opening three holes and closing four holes are routed around the ground that lies to the east of Spital Lane, with holes 4 to 14 occupying the terrain where Harry Vardon fashioned the club’s original 18-hole layout. Hexham enjoys a mature parkland setting on the south banks of the River Tyne, where a surprisingly undulating landscape adds greatly to the playing interest.
The first of the five par threes on the scorecard arrives early in the round at the 166-yard 2nd, named “Paddock”. Playing slightly uphill and into the prevailing wind, with out of bounds to the left, a sharp fall off to the right and a marked back to front sloping green, this is a crafty little hole that plays a lot harder than it looks from the tee.
The run of par four holes from the 393-yard 5th (“Lepers Oak”) to the 349-yard 9th (”St Andrews”) is particularly demanding, with the long, left doglegged 6th (”Tyne View”) rated stroke index 1. It’s vitally important for the tee shot to find the right hand side of the fairway on this hole as it slants from right to left, leaving a long approach into a narrow green that’s guarded on either side by a bunker.
On the back nine, the 10th, 13th and 16th are all terrific par threes, with the 146-yard 13th (“West Shaws”) perhaps the pick of these short holes, playing from an elevated tee box to a well-protected two-tiered putting surface. The round then concludes with the 344-yard 18th (“Spital Home”), a tight driving hole where the fairway crosses the opening hole as it rises steadily towards the home green next to the clubhouse.