Club in Focus: Alnmouth Village
It’s a bold statement to make. Alnmouth Village reckon the view from the 7th tee is the ‘finest in North East golf’. Given the spectacular stretch of Northumberland coast on which this 9-hole layout sits, it would have to be something special.
And so it is, says committee member Steve Forman, re ecting on a club going from strength to strength.
“It’s stunning to look over on a nice summer’s evening,” he said. “The first five holes all run along the coast, with tight out of bounds on the right.
You play up the hill on the 6th and then you get to the tee on the 7th and you catch your breath.
“You’ve got the beach and the sea to your left, bracken on the right and you are playing down the fairway. You can
see the village and right down the coast – all the way to the windmills at Blyth 20 miles away.”
Forman has been enraptured by Alnmouth Village for two decades and, he reveals, that more and more people are starting to discover its delights.
Alnmouth Village has been around for a long time. What’s the secret?
The club has always had a really friendly and welcoming atmosphere for visiting golfers and as a way of attracting members. The club has never got too expensive – it’s very affordable golf. You can play winter golf for £10 and you can join for £300.
That’s all- year-round golf and it’s very good value for money. That’s probably what has kept the club going through some of the tough times. We have had massive growth in green fees in the last year and we have also got Northumberland County using us as their winter practice base.
The greens are always superb and the course is always playable. The only thing that ever closes us is a covering of snow.
Given that we are all time- restricted these days, 9 holes doesn’t hurt either, does it?
It does help. We can offer the time-pressured a quick round of golf. I can get round in three hours and you can easily play nine holes in an hour and a half.
We are lucky in that the course is never really heavily occupied and you can play anything from four to 18 holes with the way that the course is laid out.
It’s quite an honour to soon be celebrating your 150th birthday. What have you got planned for the future?
We’ve recently changed the whole set up of the club and the clubhouse is no longer restricted to members anymore.
We’ve started to see a lot of walkers using the cafe-style dining room. They come in for a tea or coffee and a scone and a cake. We
are looking to develop that side of the business further every year to make the club a more pro table place.
That all helps in the long term, from a members’ point of view, to keep subs at £300 for the foreseeable future.
(On the course) We’ve brought in two buggies, we’ve recently opened a practice putting green and we have plans for a driving net and practice area for members before competitions.
Did you know?
Alnmouth Village will celebrate a rare feat in 2019 – it will be their 150th birthday. While it’s not uncommon for clubs to have struck a century these days, and increasing numbers are now creeping up to 125, there aren’t really that many at all who can raise their bat in triumph for a third time.
Alnmouth Village is proudly England’s oldest 9-hole links course. The picturesque layout was designed, and created, by Mungo Park and formed in 1869.
Park, who was the club’s first professional and greenkeeper, would win the Open at Musselburgh in 1874 and would record four further top 10s in the world’s oldest major championship.
In 1905, Mungo’s nephew – Willie Park – laid out an extra nine holes above the existing links course and the 18-hole layout was marked with an exhibition match between JH Taylor and Harry Vardon.
Taylor took the honours with a two- up victory. When the course at nearby Foxton opened in 1936, Alnmouth Village reverted to a nine hole course and the layout that’s played today is largely unchanged from the one the earliest visitors to the links would have played in the 19th century.