Golf club profile: Alnmouth GC

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 5, 2017 06:10

England’s fourth oldest golf club – which still has a popular dormy house – has a rolling programme of refurbishment, writes Andy Waple

There are few more endearing traditions of golf than the historic dormy houses built for travelling golfers before the days of easy private transport.

Established at top quality venues such as Alnmouth Golf Club in Northumberland to accommodate the growing numbers of golf addicts who sought refuge from the cities to Britain’s glorious coastal courses, they soon became highly fashionable retreats.

Typified by shared bathrooms, simple furnishing and perhaps a billiards or card table, they were testimony to the early adventure and spirit of the game.

The dormy houses, which became part of some very well-known clubs indeed, were highly valued for their ability to provide a good night’s sleep, hearty food and drink and to allow golfers to step straight outside onto the first tee each morning.

Alnmouth’s dormy house provides 26 beds in 12 twin-bedded rooms and two single rooms, all en-suite. It is English Tourism 3 star rated and is hot property for visiting groups and couples.

Club manager Peter Simpson says the dormy house is an important aspect of the club and it remains increasingly popular with visitors from far and wide.

He said: “There are only a few traditional dormy houses left in the country and ours has proved enormously popular over the years. People come from all over the country, some staying for three nights enjoying golf here at Foxton and other courses in the area. Some rooms overlook the course, some look over the rose garden and some look out to sea. All are close to a quiet lounge and the snooker room. There are fewer better places to stay.”

While Alnmouth is one of the handful of clubs that has retained its dormy, it is in good company. Of those that remain, Royal Lytham & St Annes is probably the best known – its dormy has 16 single rooms, six bathrooms, two shower rooms, and a comfortable sitting room available with satellite television.

Other famous dormy houses have survived, particularly those on the coast, yet they are of a dying breed. They include the one at Formby Golf Club, near Liverpool, where the dormy provides two single and four twin bedded rooms with shared toilets and showers. Somerset’s Burnham and Berrow, is another example, as is the famous lodgings at Rye GC in East Sussex.

In Wales, perhaps the most iconic is at Royal Porthcawl in Mid Glamorgan, whose dormy offers first class accommodation for 12 in six single and three twin rooms. Alnmouth Golf Club is England’s fourth oldest club, established in 1869. The first professional was none other than Open Champion Mungo Park, who is said to have contributed to the design of the original nine hole lay out.

It became a full course in 1930 after the club captain, the Duke of Northumberland, consented to lease a further piece of land, surrounding Foxton Hall, one of the historic residences of the Percy family.

The 18 hole layout was created by the famous golf course architect Harry Colt, who introduced his trademark steep slopes and run off areas to protect the greens, providing a testing and enjoyable challenge to members and visitors to this day. Although the course has a coastal location, it has parkland turf and a reputation for the top quality of its greens and excellent presentation.

At 6,525 yards long, par 71 for the men, 5,752yards, par 74 for the ladies, it is considered a fine test and has hosted national and county events.

Its subtle difficulties are offset by the wonderful variety of scenery, ranging from seashore to headland, with a breathtaking, panoramic view from the 15th green over many miles of the Northumberland coastline.

Today it is rated as one of the finest courses in the north east and among Golf Monthly’s Top 100 Hidden Gems.

Foxton Hall became the clubhouse when the 18-hole course was built and incorporated plans for its now famous dormy house within it.

It is a clubhouse oozing with character and the traditions of the game of golf. With two bars, a lounge, dining room and spacious television lounge with pool table, the entire club offers that typical warm and friendly Northumbrian welcome.

Both bars overlook the 18th green and in winter a real coal fire in the small bar provides a homely atmosphere.

Despite its long traditions, Alnmouth is not a club to stand still. Each year a rolling programme of refurbishment keeps the dormy house in tip-top condition, while recently the club employed Craftsman Lockers to conduct a modernisation of the men’s and visitors’ changing rooms.

“Craftsman completed the replacement of 86 lockers and they have been extremely well received. They did an excellent job and our members are very happy with the result,” said Peter.

Craftsman, which has been at the top of the changing room design sector for generations, is now part of the Ice Locker Group, trading as Craftsman Lockers


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 5, 2017 06:10
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