Played by NCG: Hartlepool
Reason for a Hartlepool Golf Club review
I’m captain at Sandburn Hall, in York, and every year we have a reciprocal with Hartlepool. They pitch up at our place and, this time, more than 30 of us travelled north for 27 holes.
Where is Hartlepool Golf Club?
What to expect
There’s a little bit of everything a links lover could want at Hartlepool. The club website says the course was partly designed by James Braid but, actually, you can see his influence all over the 6,300 yard layout.
A driveable par 4, with plenty of trouble left, is a fun start but Hartlepool really earns its stripes when it starts to hug the coast midway through the front nine.
From there, it’s absolutely epic. The 6th (pictured below) and 10th are both blind tee shots – and the walk up a slight hill through the big dunes of the latter to be greeted by the full splendour of the North Sea is worth the green fee alone.
The view from the 12th – the second of two consecutive par 3s – is similarly outstanding.
Despite it’s relative lack of length, there are still five par 4s over 400 yards. It’s open to the elements, there’s some undulating holes (unusual for a links) and a grand finish with a monster bunker to avoid for those who want to sign off in style.
The 5th is a showstopper – 156 yards of links brilliance. The beach and sea are prominent to your left and an iron to the green needs to negotiate a crevice between the course and the sand below.
It’s a simple hit if conditions are calm but add a crosswind in there and the hole looks anything but straightforward.
If you put this hole in Lancashire, or Scotland, people would never stop talking about it. The par 3s in general are very strong and a close second for me is the seventh. It’s only 111 yards off the whites but it requires a very precise hit.
If you are short, there’s a steep drop and a lot of rubbish waiting to claim your ball. Go long, though, and you’re trying to chip close from some more thick grass and a severe bank.
My best bit
The opening nine holes of the day had been a touch torrid, but I set myself up for a much improved 18 in the afternoon thanks to a birdie at the 376-yard 9th. After striping a drive, I stiffed my approach and landed a confidence-boosting four pointer.
What to look for
Links courses might be synonymous for their sea and sandy locations but it’s not that often you’ll get full view of the coastal landscape.
That’s not the case at Hartlepool. The course is so close to the beach, part of it forms a public walkway and you will see people walking the paths while you’re trying to hit a drive.
But that also means that you’ll get a proper look out to sea from a number of holes on both the front and back nine.
Teesside is a place of heavy industry, particularly around nearby Seal Sands, but you won’t see any of that at Hartlepool. It’s an archetypal links in every way.
When I go back
I’ll pack some waterproofs. You can get four seasons in a day at Hartlepool. I witnessed sun, gales and heavy rain on my visit. But surely that all adds to the fun? An essential part of links golf is dealing with the elements and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
For more information, visit the Hartlepool Golf Club website.