Critics have described Slaley Hall as the ‘Gleneagles of the North East’, the ‘Woburn of the North’ the ‘Augusta of the North’ and the ‘Gleneagles of the South’ but it was Golf World which described Slaley Hall as the “Manchester of the North East – every time a tournament goes there, such is the deluge.” Regardless of the weather, the Hunting course at Slaley Hall is a challenging layout, located in a county devoid of many top-notch golf courses.
The Hunting course opened for play in 1989 and was designed by Dave Thomas. The resort at Slaley Hall is now part of the QHotels portfolio, formerly the De Vere Group. It’s a big golf course, carved through a dense pine forest. Rhododendrons and cherry trees provide welcome seasonal colour, but it’s the pines that will punish the wayward shot, for they are predominant throughout the round.
Dave Thomas is renowned for designing unique and interesting holes and he’s done himself proud at Slaley Hall. His bunkering design is masterful. No doubt there was some land to be moved, but he appears to have skilfully used nature’s features effectively, especially the streams on the front nine.
As we have already said, the Hunting course is a big course, measuring over 7,000 yards from the back tees. The layout plays across varied ground, and whilst the majority of holes are park-like in nature, there are some holes that have distinct moorland characteristics with springy crisp turf. Either way, the Hunting has been immortalised by the European Grand Prix, formerly called the Slaley Hall Northumberland Challenge, and it’s seen some famous champions, including Retief Goosen and Colin Montgomerie.
There’s an American feel to the course and the resort in general. With plenty of tees to choose from, make sure you select wisely, because the Hunting plays its length. The layout is invariably in good condition and there is absolutely no doubt that the Hunting is one of the better young courses in England.
July 21, 2007