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Brancepeth Castle

This club is famous for… one of the world’s hardest holes

There are plenty of challenging holes in the UK - and then there is the par 3 ninth at Brancepeth Castle...
 

The 12th at Augusta National, the eighth at Oakmont, the Postage Stamp at Royal Troon: All of which would feature on any list of formidable par 3s.

But there’s one short hole that might have passed you by.

It’s more than a match for any of its illustrious contemporaries – and it’s found in County Durham.

Not much fazes me on a golf course, but the ninth at Brancepeth Castle sends a chill through my heart. The hole is brilliant, and pure evil.

At 207 yards off the blue tees, it’s the signature at the Harry Colt-designed track.

The ninth occupies part of the Castle gardens and you can still see the gateway to the grounds among the shrubbery.

It really is a perilous shot, forcing players to hit across a ravine to a green that’s angled, narrow, and cut out of the bankside.

Dodge the cedar tree in front of the tee, said to have been planted to commemorate a visit by Queen Mary to the castle, and cross the bridge. Pray you have cleared that ravine.

Let’s say you’re lucky and your ball finds the putting surface. Your worries are not yet over.

Fail to hit the correct spot and a tricky downhill putt – one that gets very fast in the summer – is what you’ll have to negotiate.

Once judged the hardest ninth hole in the world, Peter Alliss said if he had to choose his best 18, Brancepeth Castle’s contribution would certainly be among them.

The 10th isn’t a whole lot easier, with a shot back over the beck.

If you’ve got through the final hole of the front nine unscathed, you can start to think about putting together a good score.

Good luck.

How does your course compare? Do you have a hole that sends terror through those who play it? Tell us about it in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter

Click here for the full ‘This Club Is Famous For’ archive

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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