Club Membership - Co.Durham // Teesside area

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Sekiro

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Now that I’ve reached a point where I’m confident going out on to the course (not hacking up things too bad and know a little more around general etiquette), I thought it would be worth looking into Club Memberships that are available in my area and see if anyone on here could recommend somewhere.

I’m based in south Durham (Sedgefield) meaning my local course is Knotty Hill Golf Centre, the centre is generous offering 54 holes of golf, indoor/outdoor driving range and practice areas, the staff are helpful and very friendly but it’s a public course without a membership... well, it has a membership but it’s one of them pay once, member for life type things (£2 discount on a round once a member) it might be more active and have a community feel when we are no longer under COVID restrictions but currently the club house appears to be closed to visitors and there’s not a lot going on.

Ideally I’d prefer to join somewhere that has a bit more going on, there are a LOT of other courses in the area, a surprisingly large amount actually, which makes picking somewhere a little more difficult. I’d like to keep things reasonably local as convenience is key so probably nothing outside of a 15 mile radius. I do work in Darlington although haven’t been to the office since March and it’s unlikely that I’ll return until next year but I would consider something a little further outside of the 15 mile radius if it’s close to work. I’ll be hoping to try a few different places to see what I think of the course and to get a feel of the club before committing to somewhere but any recommendations would be great.
 
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Where to start, as you say there is plenty of choice. The obvious one would be Wynyard, very nice course, not too difficult but it is probably the most expensive in the immediate area, it's not a members club and the members often seem to come second as they do like a corporate golf day.
I wouldn't join any of the Darlington clubs. Darlington GC (Haughton Grange) is reckoned to be the pick of the bunch but I played it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and came away pretty disappointed.
West and North you have Bishop Auckland and Brancepth. Both cracking courses with Brancepth being one of my favourites.
If you plan to play all year then you might want to consider one of the coastal course. Seaton Carew and Cleveland both have great reputations but can be very difficult, not to say cold and windy. For year round golf and a really interesting course, as well as cold and windy it's Hartlepool all day long.
On Teesside you are looking at Eaglescliffe, Teesside, Middlesbough Brass castle (probably a bit expensive possibly a bit snooty) and Billingham. They are all pretty similar in price and year round availability. teesside is flat, Billingham hilly and Eaglecliffe somewhere in between.
Billingham would be your closest. It is difficult, water, trees and blind shots. Clubhouse is active and friendly. At he moment it is extremely busy having taken on seemingly hundreds of new members and a never ending stream of visitors.
Finally, it is probably a bit out of the way for you, but Castle Eden is a mighty fine course. Famous for pretending to have waiting list it is probably 20 to 30 minutes down the A689/A19 on a good day.
 
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pauldj42

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@Golfnut1957 I love your comment about Castle Eden 😁. Is that a local thing? Ongoing or historical?

I played it last year in an open , very nice set up. I suspect a good place to be a member.
No waiting list anymore, joining fee suspended for 1 month last year, now reinstated, but no waiting list.

Gets very wet in Winter and is closed quite a bit more than other courses in the area.
Teeside is another decent course, but that can suffer badly from flooding.
Brancepath is lovely, but Depreston (who’s a member there) has made some comments on its current condition in the greenkeeper’s thread.
 
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@Golfnut1957 I love your comment about Castle Eden 😁. Is that a local thing? Ongoing or historical?

I played it last year in an open , very nice set up. I suspect a good place to be a member.
Historical and pretty much tongue in cheek. We used to play there regularly many years ago but after getting a membership at our current club our visits became less frequent. When we did visit we used to joke about the notice in the foyer informing all and sundry that the waiting list was closed. This was when every other course in the area was screaming out for members.
 

Lord Tyrion

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No waiting list anymore, joining fee suspended for 1 month last year, now reinstated, but no waiting list.

Gets very wet in Winter and is closed quite a bit more than other courses in the area.
Teeside is another decent course, but that can suffer badly from flooding.
Brancepath is lovely, but Depreston (who’s a member there) has made some comments on its current condition in the greenkeeper’s thread.
The Castle Eden comment just tickled me as I had an image of a Capt Mainwaring type figure at the club panicking about a reduction in members, a loss of face and creating a false waiting list story to big them up locally. All in my head, not based on anything.

I'm surprised they haven't done something about drainage if it suffers in winter. It's a long standing club, gives the impression of having a few quid. I would have expected them to address that.

All good advice for the OP
 
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No waiting list anymore, joining fee suspended for 1 month last year, now reinstated, but no waiting list.

Gets very wet in Winter and is closed quite a bit more than other courses in the area.
Teeside is another decent course, but that can suffer badly from flooding.
Brancepath is lovely, but Depreston (who’s a member there) has made some comments on its current condition in the greenkeeper’s thread.
We played Brancepth in a comp soon after the lockdown was lifted and the greens were grim. We just put it down to lack of staff during the lockdown, it certainly didn't detract from our enjoyment of the place.
 

Johndfc14

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We played Brancepth in a comp soon after the lockdown was lifted and the greens were grim. We just put it down to lack of staff during the lockdown, it certainly didn't detract from our enjoyment of the place.
I have Often wondered what happened to norton golf course behind the garden centre. Is it still there as I haven’t heard about it for a few years . I used to play it when it was 9 holes and when it went to 18 . I stopped playing there when Darlington council introduced annual green fees at stressholme and I joined there before moving in to the old Blackwell course . At the moment I am a non member golfer and play the odd game at both oak leaf and hallgarth . I am playing in a charity event at woodham golf course on Friday . That’s a nice course and last I heard had no waiting list . I have heard that Blackwell grange is in fine nick and the greens are like carpets but there may be a waiting list there .
 
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Norton (Harpers) was a great course, a bit mickey mouse but it never closed for weather. It could have been 3 feet under water and it still would be open. In the winter when everything else was closed you could always get a game there, even though you were going to lose half a dozen balls on the fairway because they had plugged. Sharpley is the new Norton in respect of never closing.
Norton closed a good few years ago.
 

Zig

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OK, so I have a bit of a vested interest here... Hartlepool lad and member at Seaton Carew. Sadly, I'm not on commission from either club :)

Loads of options, but I'm narrowing it down just on my local knowledge. Some fab summer tracks like Darlington, Woodham etc not really suitable for year round golf.

Best parkland option I'd say is Wynyard. Close to you, great set up, top facilities. But, can be a bit of a slog/wet in the winter. Maybe a bit corporate/pricey.

I'd go seaside. Both Hartlepool and Seaton get more than their fair share of visitors throughout the winter when their own courses are closed. Conditions year round at both Hartlepool and Seaton are great.

I used to be a member at Hartleoiol. Fab place to play golf, scenic not too tough, seaside golf with several genuine links holes.

Obviously I'd plump for Seaton. It hasn't got practice facilities as good as Wynyard. The location's not as pretty as Hartlepool. And yes, it can be windy - whether it be August or January! But... it's within reasonable travelling distance for you, is the best course for miles - proper championship links, you get 12 months golf, and 4 layouts with 22 holes, changing monthly.

Everyone wants something different from membership though, so you'll have your own priorities which might tempt you somewhere I haven't mentioned. Wherever you choose, enjoy your golf, and good luck!
 

pauldj42

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Another to consider maybe Cleveland (Redcar) GC, another course open 12 months of the year.

Time and distance might be worth looking at.

1st choice for me would be Seaton Carew though.
 

Depreston

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No waiting list anymore, joining fee suspended for 1 month last year, now reinstated, but no waiting list.

Gets very wet in Winter and is closed quite a bit more than other courses in the area.
Teeside is another decent course, but that can suffer badly from flooding.
Brancepath is lovely, but Depreston (who’s a member there) has made some comments on its current condition in the greenkeeper’s thread.
Not Brancepeth mate Chester Le Street
 
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Sekiro

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Some great replies thanks a lot! I have some friends who play Seaton Carew and a few others that play Castle Eden (believe they are members). I’ve visited Wynyard but never played on the course (looks really good), Cleveland might be a stretch and at the outer limit of my radius, Billingham is really easy for me to get to though so I’ll check that out, I’ll take a look at a few of the others that are mentioned too. I don’t believe I saw any mention of Ramside or Rockliffe, any opinions on these?

I remember the Norton course, the entrance it initially moved IIRC when the first lot of houses were built, might all be houses now though. I also remember Eleven Arches in Bishop Auckland before it became Kynren.
 

Fromtherough

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As others have said, there’s loads of choice. It depends what you’re after. If it’s just a nice course to play, I would advise playing the courses mentioned above to see which you prefer. Most of them are decent, but everyone will have a different preference. Distance from home/work will be important and will impact on your ability to get involved on the social side (if that’s your cup of tea). Price inevitably could also be a factor. Rockliffe is circa £1600 per year, Ingleby Barwick is £400 but most of the others will be £700-£800ish.
 

Hobbit

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The first three I've been a member of but played the others many times.

Teesside GC - can be very wet, occasionally flooded. No doubt its matured somewhat since I was last there but the holes that were in the middle of the old race course were a bit boring.

Wynyard GC - great layout, especially the front nine. Back nine can play long if its windy. They're prone to shutting it at the first hint of a frost - probably shut too often.

Cleveland GC - was a member for the thick end of 30 years. 12 months golf, rarely shut. Can be tough if there's a hooley blowing but you get used to it(applies to Seaton too).

Darlington GC(Haughton Grange) - not played it for years. It used to be excellent, and one of my fav courses. Heard whispers that it had gone down hill a bit but a bit of graft would turn it round quickly.

Blackwell Grange GC - used to be a muni but the council sold it to the Blackwell members when Blackwell was closed. Good layout, no doubt matured quite a bit since I was last there. Heard getting on could be difficult as it has a large membership.

Eaglescliffe GC - nice course but the riverside holes can get exceptionally wet/closed. Not the 'warmest' of clubs I've visited.

Middlesbrough GC(Brass Castle) - a very decent course but, again, not one I'd rush back to for a welcome.

Billingham GC - very busy club. Used to ballot out members in the winter. A bit wet occasionally. A bit forgetable really.

Castle Eden GC - played there loads, inc during the winter. Yes it can get a bit wet but a lovely course/club. Very welcoming. Wouldn't be averse to being a member there.

Seaton Carew GC - I'd chose Cleveland over Seaton. Don't like the opening holes. A bit drab till you turn towards the dunes. Very tough closing stretch when the summer holes(Brabazon) are in use.

Hartlepool GC - a decent member's club, sometimes rated above Seaton for the quality of its greens. Worth considering.

Rockcliffe GC - a few decent holes but far too new and immature. A no from me.
 
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Billingham GC - very busy club. Used to ballot out members in the winter. A bit wet occasionally. A bit forgettable really.

Very busy club........and even busier since the post lockdown golf boom started, mental in fact. It will be interesting to see what happens come winter.
Used to ballot out members in the winter.........This has not happened for at least 28 years, guaranteed.
A bit wet occasionally..........like just about every club in the country that is built on clay the last few winters have been rather grim. I have pictures on my phone of the 12th where you can only see half the flag the rest being under water. That is a rather extreme example and at the end of the day who are we to complain when peoples homes and businesses suffer during such times.
A bit forgettable really........it would be interesting to know when you last played it. They planted 2500 trees about 20 years ago, they just about all took and really need thinning out as the course is practically a forest. There is no such thing as at flat lie at Billingham and if you are not on the fairway then you are in the trees. Like it or loath it and it is a difficult course, I'm pretty sure you'll remember it.

Edit. I agree with all your other assessments by the way, except Cleveland which I can't comment on having never played it.
 

banjofred

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How about Saltburn? A few guys that I play with just played a comp there last week and thought it was pretty decent.
 
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