We first played Close House in the mid 1990’s, at that time it was owned by the University Of Newcastle, there was was only one course, you paid via a honesty box next to the first tee and there was not a real clubhouse. The transformation on this property has been nothing short of miraculous!
Purchased by local businessman and keen golfer Graham Wylie, Close House is now a destination resort. Offering top class golf, accommodation, a new PGA Academy (one of only 4 in the country) and a superb modern clubhouse. It has been reborn.
The original course has been remodelled with input by affiliated pro Lee Westwood and rebranded as The Filly. The course has now benefited by extensive bunkering changes which now frame the holes and give players more to think of when teeing it up. The layout has a varied mix of holes including some very good short par 4’s utilising water hazards as the main protection. The course suffers a little from the flat land it occupies adjacent to the river, these feel a little “samey” as it is very much up and down in terms of design. In general it scores well for playability and ease of play which gives you a sense of optimism before you play The Colt.
The Colt is built on a very undulating piece of land that challenges the player from the off. Offering spectacular views across the valley it could not be more different form The Filly. High straw like grass protects the relatively wide fairways but go in it at your peril. A wide tee shot means a shot dropped, this design rewards accuracy. One of the course features are the large undulating greens where flat putts are rare. Your putter must be hot to make a score here, 3 putts are easily racked up. Stand out holes are the on the back nine, including the downhill par 4 13th which gives the most amazing views from the high point of the course. That is followed by one of the best par 3’s in the North East, the 14th. Enclosed in tress the green is protected and you must hit a pure iron to trouble the holes.
The Colt has already hosted Tour events including the 2017 British Masters and you can see why. The course is a stern test in benign conditions and a brute if the wind blows. Well maintained and very varied in terms of design it is a great edition to the area.
We must mention the customer service at Close House, the staff offer high level attention without being over the top. They are the bench mark for all clubs. Friendly, knowledgeable, attentive.
Close House GC (Filly) Much improved from original design, decent if unspectacular.
Close House GC (Colt) Some great holes on a very challenging undulating layout
Ratings: Courses 4, Staff 5, Facilities 5
Price: £50-£110 depending on choice of course.