With its heavy cape of industry it may sound unlikely to many people, but Seaton Carew is first and foremost a resort. Although, the most famous, or infamous, incident of the area occurred when the Imperial German Navy shelled nearby Hartlepool on 16 December 1914. 86 civilians were killed, the first wartime casualties on British soil since the 17th century.
The founding of Durham and Yorkshire GC in 1874 was a direct result of the tourism which was dependant on the limitless beach. Like many Victorian seaside resorts, Seaton Carew has seen better days, however, the course remains! When founded it was the first golf club in Durham and Yorkshire, hence the sweeping title. While an 18 hole course existed long before Dr Mackenzie came on the scene in 1925, it is the work of the famous architect which endures.
Unusually, the course has 22 holes for in the mid 70s Frank Pennink designed four extra holes because the land was there! The result is the club has five routings with the New Couse being the most recent addition. At least four of the layouts are measured and rated for competitive play. It is the Brabazon Course on which the big events are played and indeed the Brabazon was staged at Seaton Carew in 1985 and 2014. I believe the main course remains the Old Course which is Mackenzie’s layout. For whatever reason, the day we turned up the Bishop Course was in play. Three of the four Pennink holes are in play on this card, 12-14. I believe #s 3 and 4 of the Old Course are removed for the Bishop, I don’t know which the third is.
The opening six holes head straight south along the inward half of the links. When looking at the pastoral land just off these holes it is easy to tell the difference between it and links for there were quite a few puddles....not so on the links. Industry is ever-present at Seaton Carew and it is fitting we had a gloomy, cheerless day as its hard to think of this course in beaming sunshine. It is clear from the outset that well placed bunkers and creative greens are the strength of this links. #1
The second is comfortably the longest hole and at 544 yards it is a proper three-shotter. Many of the greens are either on plateaux, raised and/or feature false fronts.
A large bunker is problematic on the third and yet again the green is very fine.
Truth be told, the quality of the putting surfaces (in January!) put many a world famous course to shame. In the past few years the only course I have seen which can match these are Burnham & Berrow's Channel Course.
Another long hole next. It is a bit confusing because there is a green out left at par 4 range, but we cruise past it and right. Mind you, the bunkers for this green are in play for us as well.
#5 is somewhat similar to the 1st with two large bunkers on either side of the fairway short of the green. One big difference is this green runs away from play.
More to follow