A massively underrated links golf course


Newbiggin Golf Club

Newbiggin Golf Club

Date Reviewed
December 3, 2021
Reviewed by Ed Battye
It's a long time since I've walked off a golf course and been as impressed and surprised, compared to what I was expecting, than at Newbiggin.

Maybe it's because, based on what I had researched about the course beforehand, I didn't have huge expectations, however, at the end of the round I was left in no doubt that Newbiggin is a very fine course!

Prior to my round I read a quote from one author that said, "This is strictly holiday golf but to be honest, there is not much to recommend Newbiggin." This statement is so far off the mark it's untrue. In my opinion there's much to recommend at Newbiggin.

Admittedly it's never going to be recognised within the very higher echelons of links golf but the front nine is one of the most enjoyable stretches of holes I have played. There isn't one hole that takes your breath away but collectively they just work. They work very well.

The second half of the round is played over flatter ground that is bordering on moorland and marshland at times but surprisingly still retains links-esque qualities. The golden wispy grass during my first visit in August 2013 really defined the holes. There are also many similarities to some of the holes at Royal North Devon during this part of the round, 'spikes' and roaming livestock included.

The first nine holes certainly benefit from the undulating land they are laid out over, close to sea with simply stunning views. The vistas as you walk down the first fairway and from the tees at most of the holes, especially the third, are awesome. Lynemouth Power Station at the far end of the course is a blot on the landscape but in a way it makes you appreciate the rest of the spectacular views.

The first and second provide a gentle introduction to the course before the third shows its teeth. Out of bounds threatens on the right and the elevated green requires you to get your yardage correct. The driveable fourth offers the chance of a birdie but most will be made (and dropped shots avoided) by laying up here to leave yourself a short pitch. Removal of one of the two bunkers short of the green would perhaps unwittingly entice players to have a go for the green more often.

The fifth was one of my personal favourite holes. The drive is exciting and the semi-blind approach, where you can just see the top of the flag fluttering in the breeze, means that you're never sure if your second shot is as close as you think... or hope. The next is a hole that probably requires playing a few times to work out your strategy but the charming green set in a deep bowl makes you realise what sets links golf apart from any other form of the game.

Hole seven is another strong hole which dog-legs slightly to the right before a tantalising approach to the green with gorse-like shrubbery waiting eagerly for anything long. I can imagine this is a green you're always happy to see your ball land on when it's at the top of its flight.

You are now at the far end of the course and must turn towards home. The eighth is a rock solid hole with well-placed fairway bunkers whilst the ninth is also a deceptively good hole. A huge bunker-like cavern sits at the start of the fairway but isn't nearly as close or as fearsome once you reach it. A drive up the right will leave a blind approach but if you hug the left you will benefit from a more visible second shot. A subtle yet superbly strategic hole.

After the varied and quirky outward half as we reached the turn I was expecting to be disappointed with the closing holes but not one of them let me down. They don't provide the thrills and spills of the first half of the course but they do enough to hold your interest with the par three 12th (the first of just two in the round) and the dog-legged par-four 13th making amends for the blander 10th and 11th where long straight hitting is the order of the day. The course loses a little momentum over the closing stretch but it by no means limps over the finish line.

The greens at Newbiggin are exceptional with some excellent complexes. Double greens can be found at the second/16th and fifth/ninth with other highlights including the 6th (set in a bowl) and the 7th (deceptively long, sloping and narrow).

At 6,800 yards Newbiggin is a serious test of golf although it doesn't play as long as it's yardage (on a benign day anyway) thanks to the fast running ground and it housing just two par threes.

The black tees really enhance some of the holes improving the direction of play towards the fairway on several occasions.

I have also played the winter course (approx 5,600 yards, par 69) and whilst as you would expect plays shorter and easier it is no less enjoyable and the condition was excellent on my most recent round in December 2021.

If you are ever heading up to (or down from) Scotland please don't dismiss this course.

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