The Hunting Course at Slaley Hall Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook
Not only is The Hunting Course at Slaley Hall Highly Recommended on Golfshake, it is also commonly known as 'The Augusta of the North' - and it is clear to see why it’s held in such high regard.
One of two courses on-site at Slaley Hall, The Hunting was designed by Dave Thomas and has played host to a number of flagship events in its history - with the most recent being the PGA EuroPro Tour Matchroom Championship.
With its rich history of other European and Senior Tour events, the par 72, 7,069 yard layout has used the natural undulating land expertly to craft a excellent challenge of golf with some spectacular scenery throughout.
A quick visit to the pro shop, which is beautifully laid out with a mixture of your golf necessities as well as some lovely gifts and keepsakes for those visiting golfers, you can then head up to the range and chipping area.
This sits between the 1st and 10th tee on The Hunting and provides a great area for you to hone your skills - as well as the putting green which is adjacent to the 10th tee.
The Claret Jug Restaurant has a nice relaxed vibe and is also a perfect spot for either a pre or post round bite to eat with a fantastic menu on offer.
Front 9 Overview
What may appear to be a straightforward opening hole, the 1st requires a precise tee shot. The fairway bunker that sits on the left hand side is in play - but the fairway narrows beyond this and finding the shorter stuff is going to be vital as your approach shot will be to the raised green and narrow bunker - depending on where the wind is blowing, this hole could play anything from a driver/mid iron to a 3 wood/wedge. Just make sure you club up on that second shot to avoid the deep bunker at the front of the green.
Both the 2nd and 3rd holes are par 5s, the 2nd is 544 yards from the white and the 3rd is 496. Both fairly open from the tee but the second and third shots will need some thinking through.
The 4th is a cracking hole - the 230 yard run out from the fairway into the pond means playing short of that from the tee will leave you an approach shot from around 180-200 yards. There are bunkers left and right of the green but the design means that you are able to chase your second shot onto the green giving you half a chance of making par - but bogey won’t be sniffed at here.
Your first taste of the par 3s come at the 5th and 8th and both play uphill with tricky greens to find, and then another cracking hole at the 9th.
Dropping away from the tee, the ditch that runs across the fairway is barely visible from the tee. At 446 yards from the white tees only the real big hitter will attempt to carry over the ditch. The main play is to play short - the fairway runs out around 265 yards - which then leaves you a treacherous second shot, probably from a downhill lie, from around 190 yards. Really is another superb hole to finish the front nine.
Back 9 Overview
The back begins with a tough dog-leg from right to left - with three fairway bunkers ready to pounce on the right hand side of the fairway. Taking a bit off the corner is ok - so long as you don’t try and go too far left off the tee.
Another dog-leg comes at the 11th - this time a 90 degree turn from left to right. Your tee shot needs perfect placement in order for the green to be visible and not be blocked out by the trees on the right, but avoiding the fairway bunkers is not as easy as it looks.
13 is the only par 5 on the back nine. It plays downhill from the tee and then again to the green giving you a genuine chance for birdie with a couple of well hit shots - but the green is extremely undulating and three putting could be quite common.
You might find the 15th as the standout par 3. Over the picturesque lake - which shouldn’t really come into play. But pushing close to 200 yards this is another hole that could play incredibly tough depending on what the wind decides to do.
The finishing stretch has to be three of the finest holes in the North East. All three holes feel tight due to the treelined nature and the use of the terrain provides a different challenge for each hole.
The 16th has water left and a ditch running up the right to contend with. If you manage to find the fairway you will have a tough shot that again plays up to green that has a big tier at the front. The putting surface is also not visible from the fairway so clubbing needs to be spot on. The left hand section of the green also has a big slope to navigate around meaning it's a difficult hole from start to finish.
The 17th plays back down from the tee - this time the landing zone being blind from the tee as it falls away and manoeuvres from left to right.
Your second shot will need to carry a ditch that runs across the fairway - although this will probably provide more of a problem for bigger hitters off the tee as there is lots of room between that and the green.
The 18th is such a good way to finish.
The trees feel like they are closing in on you from the tee. The stream runs along the left hand side and then cuts across the fairway diagonally meaning the further right you can squeeze it from the tee the less chance of finding the water - but the fairway naturally narrows severely.
At 446 yards you might want to still hit driver but anything left or pulled will find the wet stuff.
From there a second shot can play anything from 230 to 160 - slightly uphill and fairly often into the wind - leaving you a demanding approach to what is a fantastic finish.
The condition of the course is fantastic. The green were exceptional given the time of year - as was the rest of the course. The course took a lot of rain overnight before we played it and other than a couple of soft spots here and there it was impressive how well it held up.
The front nine felt a lot more open to the elements and the wind can definitely play a big factor in how hard the course plays.
Naturally you have the option of playing the course off the whites at 6,831 yards or yellows at 6,506 - both will provide a tough test but if the weather conditions are a factor, I'd say the yellow tees will be a stern challenge for most handicap golfers.
The course is hard. It's demanding off the tee with some arduous approach shots on some holes - but it can be enjoyed by golfers of all abilities so long as you play to your own abilities and don’t try and take the course on. This is a course that will win more often than not - but have fun trying!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this course. It’s a great venue offering excellent golf in some stunning surroundings. It definitely shouldn’t be overlooked if you are considering taking a golf break to this part of the country and can definitely see why it's classed as 'The Augusta of the North'.
Overall Rating - 9
Course (Conditions) - 9
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 9
Course (Green Condition) - 10
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 9
Club Facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 9
Practice Facilities - 8
Friendliness/Hospitality - 8
Pace of Play - 8
Value for Money - 9
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|Slaley Hall Golf Club
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