WOODHAM Golf and Country Club returned to the NE and NW PGA pro-am circuit recently which underlines the progress being made at the Newton Aycliffe course.
“Everybody seemed to enjoy the day,” said director of golf Glenn Lowery. “We had lots of positive feedback from both the pros and amateurs about what we have been doing here and it’s always good to hear that.
The former Ramside and Slaley Hall pro was appointed in August when he described Woodham as “a sleeping giant” and targets this year as a pivotal one for the Durham course.
“This is a fresh start for Woodham and a re-branding with a new approach and a new management team taking over in the last year. It’s taken a while for things to settle down but the changes which people can now see are for the better.”
The changes included spending more than £30,000 on new course machinery as well as a substantial outlay on course fixtures and major improvements to the clubhouse. Work is to be carried out on the pro’s shop and locker rooms with more work planned on the course to improve paths, bridges and other features.
“My objective is, along with course manager Mark Hodgson, to see Woodham fulfil its undoubted potential,” said Glenn. “We intend to invest a lot of money into the main product which is the golf course, curing some of the drainage problems the course has suffered in the past. Woodham has always had fantastic potential and it is a sleeping giant just waiting to realise that promise.
“We have lodged plans for a new hotel and houses on the site and we’re hoping to hear the result of that application soon and if we get the go ahead, it will be all systems go.
Construction of the course started in 1981, opening in 1983 and was known as Rushyford Golf Club before being renamed Woodham Golf and Country Club in 1985.
Owners Washington Developments hope to build a large hotel and develop housing around the course and have fulfilled their promise to upgrade, ensuring it becomes one of the finest facilities in the area. All the foundations now seem to be in place for Woodham to really move forward and fulfil its potential.
The course, designed by James Hamilton-Stutt. is set in 229 acres of parkland not far from Newton Aycliffe and has always been considered a good test at just under 6,700 yards off the white tees.
Its combination of nine par fours, five par fives and four par threes is so well set-up that there is never more than two par fours in a row. There’s plenty of water at Woodham and it’s not called Woodham for no reason – there’s lots of well established trees as well as some testing contours, although the course overall is fairly flat. There are some great holes, such as the fifth with trees tight in on both sides and the final six holes are superb, notably the 13th, 14th, 15th and the magnificent par three 17th.
The course is backed up by some very good practice facilities, including a 300-yard driving ground, a bunkered pitching area and putting green,
The clubhouse is a first-class facility with function rooms and a bar area that opens on to a patio area with great views of the closing holes plus an excellent golf shop.
Hole 1 Par 5 (510 yards)
There is a fairly wide fairway at this hole which encourages the opening drive, but it’s easy to miss out with trees down the right at driving distance. It can be reached in two but the green is well protected by bunkers left and right and three steady shots might be the best idea.
Hole 2 Par 4 (399 yards)
Beware of the bunkers and water on this hole if you are a big hitter and if you do that, the shot to the green needs to be accurate with another well-bunkered green in evidence.
Hole 3 Par 4 (362 yards)
Not dissimilar to the previous hole but the water is closer to the tee box and the fairway slopes left to right towards a ditch which can gather the cut shot quite easily.