Headlam Hall Golf Course and Hotel Review
GF 9 holes: £13-£16; 18 holes: £18-£21
Par 32, 2,101 yards
GM Verdict - Short but enjoys a beautiful, peaceful setting and should give you a few birdie chances every round
Favourite Hole - The long par-5 4th which curls gently round from left to right along the highest ground to a beautifully framed green
Headlam Hall Golf Course and Hotel lies just five miles from the busyness of the A1(M) near Darlington, yet a million miles away from it in terms of feel. It is a splendid 17th-century country house retreat with its own very pretty little nine-hole golf course, complete with memorable island-green par 3 (more of which later). Although it wouldn’t rank among the best-known courses in County Durham, it’s well worth a game for its glorious ‘away-from-it-all’ feel and, if we’re being honest, a good chance to score well if your game is in any sort of shape!
That’s not to say it’s a pushover, though, with the strong 189-yard opener playing downhill towards a glorious backdrop of the Durham Dales. It’s followed immediately by a short sub-300-yard par 4 where many will fancy their chances, and then a delightful little par 3 in the corner, with free-flowing brooks all around.
Next comes a bit of shock to the system – a 519-yard three-shotter that makes up pretty much a quarter of the course’s overall length along the highest ground. A fine hole it is, too, sweeping round to the right via a rollercoaster fairway to a slightly raised green.
It's followed by a brute of a par 3 at 228 yards, then another tempting par 4 back up the hill that will be in range for some. That beautiful little island-green par 3 comes next – a mere wedge for most so no real problems with a decent strike if you can shut out the water.
The course finishes with another potentially reachable par 4 along the garden wall then a shortish par 3. The initial chute along which you have to fire your drive on the 8th may appear dauntingly tight, but if you can get it safely away, the sunken green is definitely in range if you can turn it over a fraction.
Away from the course, as far as country house hotels go, Headlam Hall is up there with the best. It hails itself a “rural retreat” and that pretty much hits the spot. The rooms are elegantly furnished in keeping with the building’s age and heritage and there are beautiful walled gardens to wander through. There’s still a working farm here, too, so it’s little surprise that dining in The Orangery is an experience to be savoured.
If you’re looking for a more informal light lunch or mid-morning drink or snack, the Spa Brasserie is a great spot to pass the time gazing out over the golf course. Talking of the spa, this excellent facility offers a good-sized pool, an outdoor hydrotherapy pool, a well-equipped gym and five first-class treatment rooms offering a wide range of therapies.
I guess you could perhaps say that a hotel of this quality might warrant a slightly bigger golf course, but I think the two actually complement each other perfectly at Headlam Hall. It has good practice facilities, too, if you want to spend a little time working on your game amid beautiful surroundings. And if you fancy taking on a slightly longer test, there are plenty of options nearby in Co. Durham, while some of the best Northumberland courses are a little over an hour away, too.
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Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
Jeremy is currently playing...
Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft
3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft
Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft
Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)
Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response
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