Brancepeth Castle Golf Club
This brilliant north-east course is loved by Peter Alliss
Brancepeth Castle is situated in the historic village of Brancepeth, four miles south-west of the Cathedral City of Durham on the A690 to Crook.
The course was designed by the famous architect Harry Colt – the man behind Royal Portrush and many fine heathland courses – and laid out on what was Brancepeth Castle Deer Park. The stables and coach house have been converted into the clubhouse.
At 6,400 yards, it still provides a sound test to many of the country's leading amateurs who meet annually to compete in the club's open amateur 36-hole stroke play championship for the Leonard Crawley Medal.
A regular venue for Durham Championship and inter-club matches, Brancepeth's well-manicured parkland course has played host to a number of significant events.
In 1975 it staged the English Championship Final, in 1980 the Ladies' British Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship and in 1982 the English Ladies' Amateur Championship.
Peter Alliss has said if he could choose 18 holes around which to create a course, the 9th at Brancepeth would be one of them.
During 1988 the course hosted the inaugural English Boys Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship for the Carris Trophy and was the venue for the Scotland v England Under 16 International in the year 2000.
The signature 9th hole is a truly memorable one about which Peter Alliss has said that if he could choose 18 holes around which to create a golf course, the 9th at Brancepeth would certainly be one of them.
In an American golf magazine it was recently adjudged to be the hardest 9th hole in the world. Like the 2nd, the green at the 9th was cut out of the hillside.
The difference here is that the tee shot of about 200 yards is played along the length of a narrow green which slopes away from the tee.
Having hit what is a very difficult target the player may be faced with a downhill putt on a green which is incredibly fast.The deep ravine cutting through the course, provides some challenging tee shots. No less than an authority as Alliss makes mention of it in his book, the Good Golf Guide.
He writes: "Locally considered the most testing course in the region, not a judgement I would quarrel with. This is no course for the topper and scuffer. Disaster is immediately in wait on at least seven of the holes in the form of the ravine that intersects the course."