Dr Duncan McCuaig founded the Durham and Yorkshire Golf Club in 1874; this was the first golf club in the North East of England and originally it was laid out as a 14-hole course. Other golf clubs in this area were formed towards the end of the 19th century, so in 1887, the club changed its name to Seaton Carew Golf Club. The course was extended to 18 holes in 1891.
Another doctor called MacKenzie came along in 1925 and modified the layout. Ten years later, Dr Alister MacKenzie went on to design Augusta National, home of the Masters. Continuing the doctor theme, the 3rd hole called “Doctor”, a short par three, remains as per its original design and serves as a tribute to Dr McCuaig, Seaton Carew’s founder.
There are now 22 holes at Seaton Carew, following Frank Pennink’s addition of four new holes. The members now have a number of playing options. The Old course, an out and back layout, is the original MacKenzie design. The Brabazon course incorporates 14 of the original holes; Pennink’s four new holes come into play at the turn. The Brabazon, an uneven par 73 (35 out, 38 back), is now considered the championship course and is tougher and longer than the Old course.
The club claims that it can make five different 18-hole layouts, but we're bemused as to how and why. According to Frank Pennink's Choice of Golf Courses: "Seaton Carew has the special merit of always being dry and playable, and four new holes near the sea should raise their already enviable status to a links of major championship quality. They will replace the 7th to 10th." Clearly the club decided to keep all holes open to confound all but the most knowledgeable scholars by devising a few too many permutations.
In 1985, Seaton Carew hosted the Brabazon Trophy (English Amateur Stroke Play Championship), producing a tie for first place between Peter Baker and Roger Roper.
Don’t be put off by the industrial surroundings of chimneys and chemical works; this excellent golf course is one of the best on the East coast of England, a real MacKenzie treat. There are a few ridges of sand dunes and the fairways undulate gently, but otherwise this is a relatively flat links course, always at the mercy of the wind.
The 17th hole, called “Snag”, is one of many great holes at Seaton Carew. The late Derek Hornby, a historian and author of the History of Seaton Carew poetically describes the 17th. "The seventeenth's dangers are countless, beginning with whin, gorse and dune, the rough and gathering bunkers, and the green's undulating tune, to veer even slightly is fatal, the cost is distressingly high, many the card that's been torn up, just here with home oh so nigh".
June 05, 2009