Rockliffe Hall - Durham - England

Rockliffe Hall,
County Durham,
DL2 2DU,

  • +44 (0) 1325 729999

  • Davy Cuthbertson

  • Marc Westenborg of Hawtree Limited

  • Jon Stacey

Visit for a golf holiday at Rockliffe Hall

Rockliffe Hall is set close to the meandering curve of the River Tees just to the south of Darlington. It’s undoubtedly the most exciting golf resort to have opened in England’s northeast.  Rockliffe Hall, the tastefully restored 18th century country house, is the centrepiece of the resort and it is surrounded by 350 acres of majestic County Durham parkland.

The estate has been privately owned throughout most of its history and the current owner, Steve Gibson, knows a thing or two about football. Not only does he own Rockliffe Hall but also Middlesbrough Football Club, whose training HQ is sited within the Rockliffe property. Gibson commissioned one of England’s oldest and most established golf course design firms to fashion a championship course as an accompaniment to the five-star facility. Hawtree Limited has been in the golf course architecture business since 1912 and it was their associate architect, Marc Westenborg, who was also responsible for the highly acclaimed redevelopment of Dooks Golf Club, who laid out the course at Rockliffe Hall. 

Opened in 2009, the multi-million pound course is one of Europe’s longest tracks, measuring a whopping 7,879 yards from the tiger tees. Built with championship golf in mind, Rockliffe Hall is a stern test, not only due to its length, but also due to its strategic and occasionally penal design.   

Lakes, wetlands, woodland and bold bunkering (especially around the greens), coupled with deep tangly rough combine to make Rockliffe Hall a supreme challenge. There’s even an island green at the par three 5th, which many consider to be Rockliffe’s signature hole, but the 242-yard one-shot 15th is the most daunting par three on the card, where water cuts in along the hole’s right side… a par here is one to be cherished. 

Our advice is to choose one of the five tee boxes carefully and keep any macho tendencies for a different course. Some think Rockliffe Hall is a potential future Ryder Cup venue and we have no doubt that it is a tough enough test, even for the world’s best golfers.

In 2013 Rockliffe Hall hosted the English Senior Open, which Denmark’s Steen Tinning won by one shot from Spain's Santiago Luna. The English Senior Open returned to Darlington in 2014 when Argentine Senior Tour rookie Cesar Monasterio cruised to his maiden European Senior Tour victory - thanks in no small part to carding a course record-equalling nine under par 63 in the second round.  

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Reviews for Rockliffe Hall

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Description: Opened in 2009, the multi-million pound golf course at Rockliffe Hall is one of Europe’s longest tracks, measuring a whopping 7,879 yards from the tiger tees. Rating: 4.7 out of 6 Reviews: 3

A second visit for me (first 2010) and very happy to report that things are moving in the right direction. The course has definitely improved in terms of ‘settling in and maturing’ and finding it’s feet. No course is the finished article in the first couple of years of opening (just ask visitors to the Trump in Aberdeen which is already great but has still a long way to go to reach the projected potential) – course maturing cannot be bought, it just takes Rockliffe Hall Golf Course - Photo by reviewertime. What I do like about Rockliffe is that when the rough is up and the holes are defined perfectly, this is a very technical course that has to be respected with very well positioned shots. Add in some classy bunkering and you can see why the course has been chosen again for the English Senior Open… Some of the modern style courses have what maybe is an impossible job when ‘competing’ for rankings against the obvious Links and Heathland beauties that normally can be found towards the top of any listings. I do think that Rockliffe over these early years can now be seen in the same light as other courses built in the last fifteen years like; The Grove, The London Club’s Heritage and also The Centurion – all of these feature in the current English Top 100 so the future could be ok. One of the best features of the course since my round in 2010 is now all of the green-sites; super condition and plenty of severe run-offs.
5 / 6
Rockliffe Hall
July 20, 2014

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Until the trees grow in 20 years time this will remain a very open and windy course. It's not the most scenic of courses and the lie of the land is flat. Everything else is top drawer. Always in fantastic condition, playable all year due to the drainage, well designed holes, plenty of sand and water, terrific greens and as long as you want to make it by picking your tee box. With flat, wide fairways and not too many carries off the tee (at least without a cop out option) its accessible for all standards of golfer. My only golfing criticism is that for most players every hole, wind dependant, is driver off the tee. First class practice facilities, friendly staff, excellent course. Well worth a visit.
5 / 6
Rockliffe Hall
June 28, 2011

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J Traits
February 12, 2013
Just played Rockliffe Hall as it is about the only course in my area in good condition and what can I say! Fantastic! Every hole was a test and for this time of year there can't be any where better. The fairways and greens are in great condition and it's a pleasure to play off proper tees and not the usual mats. If you are anywhere near here, make sure you visit.
Visiting a newly opened venue is always pretty exciting and Rockliffe Hall lived up to expectations on many fronts - the main being, the course has the obvious new look to it but the potential to develop is certain. There has been a lot of thought in the design and the decent use of fairly flat land. The variation of the holes with at least twelve of these having brilliant bunkering at the green is clear. Seven of the front nine holes have water hazards to negotiate with one of the highlights coming at the 5th, an island green par-3 (I am sure golfers will mention the 17th holes at TPC Sawgrass and a little nearer home, at Chart Hills in Kent when arriving at the tee). My pick on the front include the par-5 3rd, where it is all about the approach shot; water left, bunkers right and a tricky green with plenty of sneaky run-offs. Another hole with a memorable approach is the 11th - probably about a mid-iron to another bunker protected green. The run-in from the 15th is the strongest part of the course; it starts with a long par-3 with water down the right, a jigsaw-piece shaped bunker front left and a nasty run-off at the green back towards the water. The 16th is the longest hole on the course and like many par-5's, the shot to the green is key; this time there are no bunkers at the green but the use of some dead-ground just short is very clever, plus the run-off at the rear of the green is bound to catch-out everything that is over-hit. I have something in me that says all courses should have a 'big' 17th hole...and Rockliffe does, in fact it is my choice of best on the course - the reason being I just do not think you can get away with anything less than really good shots to score well on this hole. The drive is tough with water and bunkers flanking the fairway at landing-point, this then leaves a mid to short iron to yet another difficult green with those now familiar run-offs at the back! The final hole includes out-of-bounds for the duration down the left and a perfectly positioned bunker right in front of the green. Like all new courses, this can be described as work in progress but the early signs are strong enough for me to give a 4-ball rating, as for the off-course facilities, well these are already the finished article ... a wonderfully unique hotel, and a 5-star attitude from everyone I met during my stay.
4 / 6
Rockliffe Hall
September 08, 2010

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