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Bishop Auckland golf

This might be the craziest golf course you’ll play in the UK

The routing is crazy. The holes range from difficult to brutal. This County Durham layout is a real white-knuckle ride. And we’re here for it…

 

It is brilliant and yet utterly bizarre at the same time. Bishop Auckland Golf Club was established at a time when par just didn’t matter. It probably didn’t exist.

This County Durham course might be the most insane you’ll find in the UK. Yes, there is Painswick and its iron age fort. Yes, there is Shiskine and its 12 holes.

But from the first tee shot, Bishop Auckland bewilders with a routing that would get a modern day architect kicked out of the committee room for suggesting anything that resembled it.

It’s probably worth laying out the holes as they are – a collection that’s been described as “curious” and “among the most unusual in the world”.

Bishop Auckland golf

So here goes, feast your eyes on this:

1, Par 4; 2, Par 5; 3, Par 5; 4, Par 5; 5, Par 3; 6, Par 4; 7, Par 3; 8, Par 3; 9, Par 5

10, Par 3, 11, Par 5; 12, Par 3; 13, Par 4; 14, Par 4; 15, Par 4; 16, Par 4; 17, Par 4, 18, Par 4

Bishop Auckland Golf Club is anything but routine

Eclectic, right? And just in case you missed it. Three par 5s in a row. Three par 3s in four holes and five in eight. Six consecutive par 4s to finish.

But it’s not just the numbers that bedazzle you. The holes themselves are incredibly quirky. The locals say you have to score early, but those trio of early par 5s are 556, 528 and 525 yards off the back tees. And two of them have got a creek right in front of the green!

You have to walk over the 9th fairway to get to the 6th tee. You have to hit your tee shot at the 7th over a ravine. The challenge just doesn’t stop.

Even that sextet of 4s at the end aren’t routine – moving through big elevation changes, crossing every point of the compass, and finishing with a 260-yard trek up to the clubhouse.

bishop auckland golf

Bishop Auckland is a relic, but a welcome antidote to what we’ve seen in more recent golf course construction.

Built in 1894 before bulldozers and earthmovers, and extended to 18-holes in 1913 by professional and groundsman James Kay, the holes were designed to fit the land.

The club simply used what they had. The result is a course that’s unique, and odd in equal measure, by modern standards but is a thrill-seeking roller-coaster of a four-hour ride.

It’s tremendous value, too – a Sunday afternoon round available for as little as £22! If you haven’t put your game to the test here, at a course the like of which we promise you will will never have seen before, what are you waiting for?

It might be the UK’s craziest golf course. But it’s a whole heap of fun too.

Have you played at Bishop Auckland Golf Club? What did you make of the course and how did you score there? Let me know with a tweet.

stroke-and-distance

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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