Macdonald Linden Hall Golf Course Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Rob Treanor
Macdonald Linden Hall is a historic country house hotel with an impressive 18-hole Championship golf course and luxury spa. Awarded Highly Recommended status in 2019 and 2021 by the Golfshake Community, it also featured on the 2022 Must Play list. Golfshake Ambassador Rob Treanor stopped by in June 2022 to appraise the venue’s facilities.
Macdonald Linden Hall is sited within 450 acres of tranquil grounds in the Northumberland countryside. The Championship Course was designed by Jonathan Gaunt and opened in 1997, meaning 2022 is the 25th anniversary year.
The long tree-lined avenue leading to the hotel and pro shop helps to create a feeling of atmosphere and suspense. The maturity of the trees, ornate borders and plucky courage of the roving black pheasants offer a sense of the natural beauty and seclusion that is to come.
There are various indicators, which denote that this might just be something a little special. Hallmarks of quality such as a layout designed by Jonathan Gaunt, the USGA specification greens and the prestigious on-site hotel all point to an experience, which might just stand out from the crowd.
Front 9 Overview
After a pair of welcoming opening holes, the par five 3rd poses the first significant challenge. This superbly designed hole features an approach shot that is constrained by the mature trees either side of the green, making fairway positioning absolutely vital. The green is relatively small, which, combined with the trees obscuring the approach, make this a challenging prospect. For those who are out of position, creativity, skill and a slice of luck will all be required to overcome this cunning hole.
The par threes, which punctuate the course, are all superb, with the delightful downhill 4th a case in point. Played over water, it is an intimidating prospect from the tee. The picture perfect green is framed by mature trees on all sides and once reached, presents a further challenge with the amount of movement on the impeccable playing surface. An exciting and enjoyable hole.
Another heart in mouth moment awaits on the next par three at 7. This hole is as beautiful as it is deadly, with more water in play all the way down the left hand side. There is a bail-out area short right of the green and the high sided banks on the right will tend to push ball back. Again, there are plenty of undulations on this green meaning this really is not a pushover.
Back 9 Overview
After a proper halfway house serving hot food and light refreshments, the 10th is a great start to be back nine. The dogleg pushes right with fairway bunkers protecting either side of the fairway turn. The sizeable trees mean cutting the corner is devilishly difficult, resulting in a lengthy approach shot for most on this par four. As is typical of the course, the green is beautifully framed by the mature trees of the surrounding woodland. Multiple undulations on the surface of the green must be navigated before holing out. A strong hole.
Positioning and accurate approach shots are two skills this course frequently demands, with the signature 13th hole requiring three very good shots indeed. The demanding tee shot needs to avoid the fairway bunkers, meaning driver may not be best option. Progressing down the fairway, the hole double doglegs and golfers must negotiate the huge oak trees, which interrupt any direct approach. Landing on the green is preceded by carrying an attractive water feature, which protects the whole of the front. A majestic and thought provoking hole that requires a variety of shots.
Linden Hall is great fun to play. Challenging but not overly so, the visual interest is engaging throughout with the scenery morphing between open parkland and mature woodland. It is a relaxing walk, with the trees offering majesty and shade, though demanding players get into position properly. Shrewd play is needed to negotiate these brutes, else something spectacular will be required to manipulate a score.
The course would finish well in a beauty contest. Water is never too far away, which adds timeless appeal, but also the prospect of danger. The grounds of the hotel, which the course prowls around, are superbly maintained with formal gardens and mature shrubbery. Adding to the on-course experience, the club is also in the process of changing the sand in the bunkers to a higher specification material.
At the end of our mini tour of Macdonald venues, it is clear there is a real consistency in the offering. At each site, the golf course can be expected to be well designed and interesting, the hotel will be luxurious and will come equipped with a generous swimming pool and excellent leisure facilities. Rest, respite and relaxation are prized highly at these respected venues.
The Championship Course at Linden Hall is memorable for its fantastic par threes and the splendor of its scenery. A great layout, it meanders around the excellent hotel in the same way the water features anchor the course. The Georgian manor house has stood proudly in the landscape for hundreds of years. With the Championship Course delivering such a great golfing experience at its 25 year celebration, it is easy to imagine it remaining so forever more.
Overall Rating - 8
Course (Conditions) - 9
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 8
Course (Green Condition) - 9
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 8
Club Facilities & Clubhouse - 7
Practice Facilities - 6
Friendliness/Hospitality - 9
Pace of Play - 9
Value For Money - 9
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|Macdonald Linden Hall Golf & Country Club
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