High Gosforth Park,
Tyne & Wear,
- +44 (0) 191 236 2498
5 miles N of Newcastle
Welcome - contact in advance
Northumberland Golf Club was formed in 1898 when disaffected members of another local club decided to set up their own course at High Gosforth Park, adjacent to the Newcastle racecourse, and a small clubhouse was constructed close to the start of the mile-long straight to cater for the new membership.
Sometime after 1905, when another clubhouse was built in a more commanding position to the west of the property, Harry Colt was called in to redesign the existing layout. Unfortunately, World War I intervened during the rebuild, and this work was never completed.
According to the book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses, by John F. Moreton and Iain Cumming, “James Braid went there in 1919. He made various suggestions which included filling in a burn, levelling certain areas of fairway and lengthening some holes. Not much of his work appears to survive”.
Today, the fairways weave in and out of the racecourse, starting at the par five 3rd. Holes 4 to 12 are then routed inside the rails before the tough par four 13th (stroke index 1 on the scorecard) leads golfers back outside the track for three holes. The 16th and 17th (formerly named “Paddock” and “Grandstand”) are played inside the track, ahead of a tee shot back to the clubhouse at the 408-yard 18th.
The club has hosted a number of notable tournaments down the years, including the Dunlop Masters in 1972, which New Zealand's Bob Charles won by two shots from England's Tony Jacklin. More recently, the club staged Open Regional Qualifying for the R&A over a five-year period from 2013.
I have mixed feelings towards Northumberland GC. Being a local, and by local I mean I live in the estate next to the course, I can emphasise with other local players who dash Northumberland for its gathered reputation and its selective nature in membership. This is also not helped with Parklands GC, a club for the working man and general public, being located no more than 500 metres down the road. I would say the contents of car park at Northumberland is a good representation of the type of membership you are entering.
I've lived in the suburb of Gosforth my entire life and only last week did I finally step onto the course with a good friend who holds membership, thanks to his father being a long serving member. In years gone by, prior to holding a membership elsewhere, I would turn to City of Newcastle or Newcastle United Golf Club as my go-to tracks, mostly down to tee-time availability and course quality.
Anyway, back to the course at hand. Practice facilities are fantastic: a large range, 2 nets, a dedicated chipping green (astro turf for easy maintenance) and a large putting green. I made full advantage of the putting green, as the reputation of the pace on the greens is quite frankly legendary. For any visitor I would recommend a fair chunk of time on there to make your visit enjoyable!
The 1st tee is a beautifully framed dog-leg to the right, the racecourse set out in front of you and somewhat of a mystique to the rest of the course. The first par 5 is lovely, being cut with bunkers at about 300yds and little run off behind the hole for safety.
But from there on out, the course did not give back the same feeling of excitement or gusto I was expecting standing on that 1st tee. Holes came and went quickly with little to distinguish them. Staring at the scorecard it's noted 2 Par 3s hold roughly the same length off the tee. If you asked me to describe them individually, it would be hard to distinguish one from the other.
And as if like that I found myself on the 18th tee-box, questioning where the round had gone? However it has to be said, the jeopardy of hitting through a small gap in the trees into a drop away fairway followed up by a second shot to an elevated green did put a smile on my face. Going round in 80 was a good day for me, but something was nagging me about the round. Perhaps the feeling of unmemorable was it, perhaps something else.
Regardless, Northumberland is a test for any golfer, that cannot be denied, the quality of the course is brilliant, that too cannot be denied, but there are certainly courses in the county that offer more from a visual standpoint and general 'fun to play' feeling.
At a current rate of £60 per round, I'd be unwilling to part with that cash knowing what else is available in the area, however at £20 with a member I would snap your hand off.
We saved Northumberland to the last of our four golf course tour of the county believing it may be the best, despite the lowest green fee. So ultimately we were a little disappointed rating it below the other three we played - Goswick, Slaley Hall (Hunting) and the quirky, fun Bamburgh Castle, in that order.
The course maintenance was superb, and the perfect greens lightning fast, but far too quick for us moderate golfers. However it was the lack of memorability and blandness of the holes which let Northumberland down.
Sure enough, the golf course blended all right in the ever-present if unlikely setting of Newcastle race track, even if it seemed of secondary importance. The routing was uneasy, and at times it was not clear the direction of the next tee, and did feel as if we were in a ‘big field of flags’. The par five third was to us the stand-out hole, with a splendid drive over the racecourse railings to a wide fairway neatly split by cross bunkers about 300 yards from the tee.
Technically strong for the golfing purist, in a setting more links-like than parkland, the course simply failed to inspire and feel fun. Perhaps on another day if we could master the greens, we would have enjoyed the experience more. Northumberland is well set-up and a stern test for all handicappers which is why the R&A probably decided to have their Open qualifiers here in recent years.
Northumberland GC was my first foray into golf within a race course and while driving off across the rails is a little disconcerting, it didn't detract from the enjoyment of a good course, well designed and well maintained. The greens were slick, the speediest I've encountered this year (it was good to meet the ubiquitous member who told us 'they are normally quicker than this) but rolled true.
There was a stiff breeze when I played which made the final holes to the clubhouse really testing. The last 4 holes are pretty much from the far end of the course back, so you need energy in your tank to finish a good round.
There are a couple of blind tee shots, so the course/card would benefit from offering some guidance in places. Chat on the tee around 'I think its a dogleg right' doesn't instil confidence in your drive. The last hole is a beauty, a drive across the rails to a fairway below you, then a mid iron up to an elevated green that sits right next to the patio area. No pressure there then on a summers evening with a big crowd!
Northumberland is a golf course that you should play if in the area. It is easily accessible, welcoming and fun. Well worth the effort.
North-East England is not widely regarded as an area with an abundance of top quality golf courses. However, The Northumberland Golf Club stands proudly as a fine exception.
Strategic bunkers, fast running fairways and immaculate greens make it stand out as a real Angel of the North when it comes to inland golf in this region.
It is no surprise that the R&A have chosen The Northumberland Golf Club to host regional qualifying for The Open Championship until at least 2017 and its rich history also includes the staging of several professional and national amateur tournaments.
Indeed I recently enjoyed golfing here on three consecutive days in the English Mid-Amateur Championship (Logan Trophy) where the course was set up superbly.
Two famous course designers from the Golden Age of golf architecture were influential in the layout; first Harry Shapland Colt and then, following the first World War, James Braid. They have helped shape an excellent course which continues to stand the test of time and modern equipment.
It may surprise you to learn that most of these holes are played within the Newcastle Racecourse at High Gosforth Park! Naturally some of the holes border the track but it never really interferes with play. The only exception to this is at the par five third hole and par four 13th where you must drive over the running rails which obscure what would otherwise be superb views down the holes, the third in particular with strategic bunkers to contend with all the way down its 497 yards.
Nicknamed 'The Park' this is probably something of a misnomer because it implies a parkland layout and this is anything but the case. You won't find any tree-lined holes, pretty ponds or lush green fairways here. Target golf, this is not. In fact there is very much a 'linksy' feel to most of the holes, especially around the greens.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
I can only assume that the previous review was submitted by a bitter member of a local club. His comments simply do not reflect the reality that you will find when you visit this course. Unfortunately Northumberland GC has a bit of a historic PR problem locally, with the primary focus less on golf and more on the social standing/calibre of the membership in days gone by. That has all but disappeared now with a younger, more diverse membership but unfortunately the long-held reputation locally is harder to change. In terms of the course itself it is immaculate and in my view there is only one course in the region that provides the same quality on the course and that is the inordinately expensive Colt course at Close House. Northumberland is a much tougher test of golf than the Colt course though, with narrower fairways, less forgiving rough and faster, more undulating greens. The bunkering at Northumberland is also very impressive, both in terms of positioning, sand quality and maintenance. Close House provides visitors with the full bells and whistles visitor experience, but in terms of a golfing test on a quality layout, in my view, Northumberland has no equal in the region. This is evident when Northumberland members play other courses – a handicap from Northumberland travels very well. My own top three standings in this region would be Northumberland, Goswick, Colt in that order.
Clearly this review was written by a Northumberland member, a 6-ball rating suggests the reviewer hasn’t played any world class courses. What rating would you give Dornoch, Sunningdale or RCD?