In the Beginning
Built on the site of the old medieval hospice of St Giles founded in 1114 under the care of the priors of Hexham Abbey, the "elegant Palladian house of finely dressed stone", as Pevsner describes the present home of Hexham Golf Club, belies its modest beginnings in 1892. Until 1906, the nine-hole course running alongside the river Tyne and leased from the Local Board, was the town's only golfing facility. The Tyne Green site was grazed by cattle, used by the people of Hexham for riverside walks, and the clubhouse consisted of a hut-come-changing-room!
The new Hexham Golf Club Ltd moved up from the river to its present location in 1907; Harry Vardon, co-designer of the new course, thought it "as fine an inland course as you can find". Its 5470 yard eighteen holes were fully open in early 1908, with a new West Point clubhouse.
Where we are now
This old West Course was sited on 80 acres of leased land to the west of the Spital House entrance road, and it served the club well until 1951 when it bought outright the whole of the Spital estate which included the house, now a Grade 1 listed building and 70 acres of parkland to the east of the entrance road. The course as we now know it is essentially the creation of the noted golf architect C K Cotton who laid out seven holes to the east and 11 to the west of the entrance road. By 1954 Spital House had been renovated as the new clubhouse and together with its magnificent parkland is now the backcloth for what Ryder Cup player Harry Weetman called one of the most beautiful settings for golf he had discovered in his career.
It has been a privilege......
When the Spital Mansion and 75 acres to the west of Spital Lane came on the market in 1951, together with the lease of the existing course the Club had a difficult decision to make. Could it afford the purchase of this estate? This would amount to modifying the existing compact layout of the 18 holes overlooking the most picturesque views of the Tyne Valley, and a course laid out by the great Harry Vardon, for an extended layout to the east of Spital Lane. This would mean moving out of the purpose built clubhouse with its fine verandah and comfortable chairs overlooking and almost touching the 18th green.
The right decision was made and the Club moved into the Spital in 1953. The new part of the course with its magnificent displays of hardwood trees lent itself to six challenging holes and an overall layout to compete with the best in the North of England. The Club has never looked back. Money was always short in those early days but the hard work and enthusiasm of all members saw the Club developed into one of the most popular in the North for both visitors and members. Green fees from visitors far outstripped members' subscriptions and waiting lists often extended to three years. Even today the Club is in the enviable position of having almost full membership with active sections of all age groups prepared to welcome and encourage new members. So we have a great members' club, steeped in history and good golf; a splendid parkland course; a clubhouse of great ambience most golfers would envy and a friendly, welcoming membership.
It has been a privilege to have been a member throughout most of this period. To turn down Spital lane, glance at the 17th green, see the clubhouse behind the car park and the course beyond never fails to impress and I am sure it will do so for years to come.
Long standing member