The Best Golf Courses In Durham

Can the nearby golf courses match the beauty of this university city?

We profile seven places to get a game of golf near this beautiful university city

The Best Golf Courses In Durham

Fast becoming an increased tourist hotspot, Durham with its beautiful buildings and architecture also offers some sublime golf opportunities too.

In this piece we have taken a look at seven courses that you should think about playing when in the north of England.

Related: Golf Monthly’s UK&I Top 100 Courses

Durham City

This course is a delight, running uphill and down alongside the River Browney on the early holes and through woodland.

Durham City is one of the oldest inland clubs in England, having been inaugurated in 1887, but this is its third site. This course was only built in the mid 1970s.

There is good variety to the holes. The opening ones are tight and the river lurks on the right on some, including the pretty 3rd and the 6th with its fierce sloping bank to the right of the green.

Durham City has 19 holes. The par-3 7th is only used in summer - because the trees around it provide a screen which hinders its winter condition - and so there is another part-time par-3, which comes in at 11 on the winter card.


Hartlepool 7th hole

Hartlepool's 111-yard 7th is deceptively difficult

About half an hour from the city of Durham is Hartlepool's attractive course. Sadly some of the prettiest parts of this course have been tumbling into the sea, including the original tee on 7.

This hole is short - 111 yards from the whites - with a chasm before the shallow green and a steep run off behind. In competitions this hole often plays the hardest, but the club thought it would look daft on the scorecard having a stroke index one hole of 111 yards.

Hartlepool has some links holes around the turn which are particularly pretty. The best stretch of holes come from 5 to 8. The 5th is a par-3 as a crescent around the cliffs. The 6th is a par 4 played blind to a tight fairway with the green atop a rise and well protected by bunkers.

The 8th is a long par-4 dogleg, the tee set high in the sand hills and offering a panoramic view of course and coastline.


Ramside Hall Hotel & Golf Club, Cathedral Course

Ramside Hall Hotel & Golf Club, Cathedral Course

There were three nine-hole courses at Ramside Golf Club: Bishop’s, Prince’s and Cathedral. But the first two have merged, into a course called Bishop Prince’s and the last has been redesigned into a new 18-hole Cathedral course.

The Prince Bishop is exposed and on windy days the elements play a huge part. So long as you avoid the artificial lakes splashed about the layout, it is hard to lose a ball as the woodland is well spaced and cleared underneath.

The 4th gives far-reaching views and is the prettiest hole on the front nine and the Dormy House behind this tee is where Martin Shaw stays when filming Inspector George Gently. The 13th is the back nine’s beauty.

One of the old Cathedral holes lingers on in the design of the new 18-hole Cathedral course. The architect for this was Jonathan Gaunt, who designed the other courses here. The new Cathedral has been designed to have a heathland element in places and other areas run through mature woodland.

Seaton Carew

Seaton Carew's Gare hole

Seaton Carew's Gare hole

Seaton Carew’s 22 holes are configured into four different layouts, only one of which is available to play at any one time. The Old Course was designed by Alister MacKenzie.

Four of these holes were on land not owned by the club, and when it seemed that this land was going to be sold, the club employed Frank Pennink to create four replacements. These were on new land formed by the sea retreating and, in The Gare, has the prettiest hole on the course, played into dunes which were not there when MacKenzie laid out his track.

But the land was not sold. So the Old Course remained and the Brabazon course was formed with Pennink’s four new holes included. The Old Course is the one most played, but the Brabazon is the championship layout.

With few fairway bunkers, Seaton Carew is receptive to the bump-and-run approach. This tactic also helps combat the elements on this exposed stretch of land. Another feature of the course is that, bar on one hole, the flag can always been seen from the tee but the sea can only be glimpsed from one tee.

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Rockliffe Hall

Opening in 2009, this multi-million pound facility has a truly stunning golf course within. One of the longest courses in the UK, this parkland venue measures an epic 7,879 yards. Most of the par-5s are longer than 600 yards with the 7th being the longest at 664 yards! However there are plenty of other tees available.

In terms of specifics, the island green of the par-3 fifth is spectacular and water comes into play on several of the holes which could all but ruin your round if you have a good score going.

The closing hole dogs its way to the left round some specimen trees to a green below the clubhouse, and you leave the course knowing that you have undergone a thorough golfing examination.

The course has already hosted two English Senior Opens, and with its 5-star accommodation, spa, superb cuisine, and its shooting, fishing and other activities, Rockliffe Hall is a complete resort.

Brancepeth Castle

A Harry Colt design, Brancepeth Castle opened in 1924 and is situated where the Brancepeth Castle Deer Park used to be. The old stables and coach house were converted into the current club house.

Heading to the course, one of the main aspects of the 18-holes is the huge ravine that comes into play on a number of the holes. The picks of the bunch include the par-3 second and ninth holes that measure at 154 and 207 yards respectively off the back tees.


The Wellington Course at Wynyard is another brute if played off the back tees. A combination of rolling parkland and mature woodland, the closing stretch is sure to make you earn your good score.  First, 15 is a short risk-reward par-4. The longer hitters will be tempted to go over the pond but the shorter ones will have to hit right of it which will leave a tricky shot into the small green.

16 is an absolute monster. 599 off the backs, out of bounds lurks left and right as do two fairway bunkers and further up the hole, a large lake. Take a bogey here if need be.

17 is a fairly innocuous par-3, before the final hole presents you with a tough drive. Three fairway bunkers await on the 450 yard par-4 but find the short stuff and you are left with a mid to long iron in.

What are your favourite courses in Durham? Let us know on our social media channels

Sam Tremlett
E-commerce Editor

A golfer for most of his life, Sam is a Senior Staff Writer for Golf Monthly. 

Working with golf gear and equipment over the last six years, Sam has quickly built outstanding knowledge and expertise on golf products ranging from drivers, to balls, to shoes. 

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Driver: Titleist TS3 (9 degrees) 

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