“Few clubs have as rich a history as Tyneside Golf Club, situated at Western Falls, Ryton, just south of the River Tyne,” wrote authors Adrian Green and Tim Wellock in North Country Golf. “Believed to be one of the first 50 clubs in England, the original site was adjacent to the railway line on a 60-acre field known as The Willows, with the clubhouse a disused stick house dating from 1879.
The course was laid out by the club’s first professional/greenkeeper Mungo Park, winner of the Open in 1874, who was approached when at Alnmouth, Northumberland.
Once the layout was completed in 1880 Mungo was joined by his nephew, the revered Willie Park Jnr, at the tender age of 16 and he remained there until 1890, during which time he won the 1887 and 1889 Opens.
Willie Jnr, who spent 12 hours a day practising his putting – believing that: ‘The man who can putt is a match for anyone’ – left Tyneside to work alongside his father in the ball and club-making firm of W Park and Sons before embarking on a career in course architecture…
Twelve years after Park’s departure the Tyneside club negotiated a move to Western Falls, where they made do with a hotch-potch of holes until 1910 when Harry S Colt was commissioned to remodel the course.”
It’s not known who designed the original course (or even how many holes were in operation) but all that changed when Harry Colt's course opened in 1911, which is the layout that’s been in play ever since.
Today, the course extends to a little over six thousand yards, playing to a par of 70, with one par five hole featured on either nine. Although most holes are orientated on an east-west axis along the river valley, all the par threes play to a different compass direction: the 195-yard 6th to the west, the 152-yard 9th north, the 172-yard 12th east and the 120-yard 16th south.
Tyneside has recently built a new 6-hole par three course and driving range to complement the main course. The club also partnered with Frank Pont, who specializes in restoring Colt courses, and a 10-year improvement plan has focused on mowing lines, bunker restoration and reshaping a number of green surrounds.