CELEBRATING 25 YEARS | Longhirst1997-2022HallGOLFCOURSE
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Welcome to Longhirst
Graham Chambers Director of golf
My journey – which started as a 28-year-old lad who turned up to a construction site in his best white shirt on his first day in 1995 – has been one filled with challenges, standout events, and the chance to work with so many incredible people. To be trusted to turn Tommy’s vision to bring the course style and customer service levels of the US to Northumberland, while offering a high-quality golf venue for local, working-class people has been an honour.
WELCOME www.longhirstgolf.co.uk / 01670 791 562 3
A huge thank you to all the businesses who have supported this publication, and everyone who has taken part in it. A massive thank you also needs to go to everyone who has been part of the first 25 years of the Longhirst story – from Tommy and our family, to our staff members past and present, and finally to our visiting golfers and members who have come to enjoy this very special place.
hinking back to the scarred landscape we started with and the work that went into handplanting 42,000 saplings in a vast open space with views right across to the A1, and then trying to put that 25-year journey into words is simply impossible.
From my first conversations about Longhirst with founder Tommy Dawson, my new father-in-law at the time, to today has been both eye-opening and rewarding.
Here’s to creating many more memories over the next 25 years.
It’s incredibly rewarding to see our two golf courses and clubhouse filled with golfers, and to see all the wildlife which has moved back into this very special part of Northumberland. I think we’ve achieved a great deal of Tommy’s original dream and taken elements of it to a whole other level thanks to his continued passion; the hard work of our team; and the support of our partners, guests andWhilemembers.we’ve enjoyed looking back, we’re certainly not standing still. We will continue to develop Longhirst and improve what we offer to our members and our local community, on and off the golf courses in the next 25 years.
NaturalSubtleCrispTaste.RefreshingExtraFlavour.Finish.Ingredients. Enjoy Heineken Silver ResponsiblyNEW
30Contents|Alongstory With five of Longhirst’s longest-serving members 34 | Member profile Football referee Michael Oliver 44 | The pro-file With head teaching professional Paul Fiddes 10 | Course profile The Dawson Course 26 | Course profile The Lakes Course 50 | Last word Looking to the future with Graham Chambers 08 | A round with Newcastle United legend Shola Ameobi 14 | Member profile English cricket icon Steve Harmison 22 | Member profile NUFC goalkeeper Karl Darlow www.longhirstgolf.co.uk / 01670 791 562 5 Editor Dean Bailey email@example.com Photography Kevin Gibson www.kgphotography.co.uk Additional photography Ian Brodie, Chris Chambers, Wayne Hilton, Dale Holden Bearl Farm, Stocksfield, Northumberland, NE43 7AJ, tel 01661 844 115, www.offstonepublishing.co.uk ©Offstone Publishing 2022. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher. All information contained in this magazine is correct at the time of going to press. produced by publishing
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course
A golf experience like no other
www.longhirstgolf.co.uk / 01670 791 562 7
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course
WELCOME TO LONGHIRST
onghirst Hall Golf Course has forged a special place in golf and the local community since opening in 1997. Shaped from the scarred landscape of an open cast mine, today it is a hive of activity – from the golfers who walk the fairways to the birds and animals which now call this corner of Northumberland home. The modern, Floridainspired golf courses have matured into two of the region’s finest layouts with tens of thousands of trees and ribbons of green fairways wrapping around expanses of water to create a stunning replacement for the swathes of grey stone and heavy machinery which once occupied this landscape. The club has continued to invest in facilities over quarter of a century, welcoming thousands of golfers of all ages through its gates and employing local people across all its departments throughout its journey. Join us in celebrating 25 years of Longhirst...
or fans of Newcastle United, Shola Ameobi needs no introduction. The Nigerian-born striker enjoyed a 15year career on Tyneside, playing 312 times for the Magpies and netting 53 goals after making his debut as a 19-year-old against Chelsea in 2000. Following a spell in Europe and with several other clubs in England, Shola retired from professional football in 2018 and returned to Newcastle United in 2019 as the club’s loan manager, a position he continues in today while also serving as a trustee of the Newcastle United Foundation. We caught up with him for a quick round and to learn more...
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course8
A round with Shola
have lost about 50 balls in the lakes. I loved the experience and the camaraderie though, and I got the bug. I played a couple of times a week straight after training at Newcastle United Golf Club and got a lot out of working to improve my handicap. Golf is a great escape and I loved having that release from the pressure of football throughout my career.
I shot it this summer, a one under-par 72 on the Dawson Course.
What’s your best score?
Which is your favourite course in the North East?
I always enjoy golf around North Berwick - the courses up there are spectacular. If I had to pick one club to visit, it would have to be Archerfield.
“In my dream fourball would be my favourite actor Denzel Washington, Tiger Woods, and Condoleezza Rice”
How did you get into golf?
How much golf do you get to play?
I love playing at Longhirst. The members are fantastic, down to earth people and I can be myself here. I like the modern club environment too, the rules are relaxed but people take their golf seriously, and the two golf courses have come on amazingly in the years I’ve been coming here.
18 holes and 18 quick-fire questions with Newcastle United legend and Longhirst member Shola Ameobi
Golf has been a big part of my life and while I play a little less since I retired from football, I still try and play two or three times a week in the summer.
Golf was a big thing at Newcastle United among the players and especially under Sir Bobby Robson, and I started playing just after I got into the first team. One of the first events I ever played in was Gary Speed’s golf day at Longhirst and I must
And further afield?
Which is your favourite golfing memory?
What about your own embarrassing moments on the course?
Playing at Parklands, I managed to let go of a club mid-swing and it flew further than the ball into a lake. I lost a club and a lot of dignity that day.
What are your strengths on the course?
And your weaknesses?
Once a year, I get together with three mates and we play for a little trophy. One year, at Yas Links in Dubai, one of the guys managed to hit a yacht! I have no idea how he hit it that far out over the water, but it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
It’s hard to choose one person as I get so much out of being a social golfer and playing with lots of different people. Back in the day, I played a lot of golf with Alan Smith and brought him on when he was first starting out.
What would you be doing if you hadn’t had such a successful career in football?
Who is your favourite golfer?
I don’t think so, though I do have to put my left shoe on first. I’ve done that my whole life though, not just with my golf shoes.
Which golf event do you enjoy most?
The Sir Bobby Robson Tournament at Villa Sol in Portugal is so special to be a part of. Seeing the guys he mentored and impacted come together every single year shows just how important Sir Bobby was to the people who were lucky to spend time with him. The money raised by that tournament has also done fantastic things and I’m very proud to still be a part of it.
If you could have one mulligan, when would you have used it?
You can keep it, golf’s all about the next shot.
I’d always wanted to go to university and I thought I’d study law, but football was always my first love and when I got into the Newcastle system I didn’t look back.
Who do you admire?
Which is your favourite club in the bag?
I drive it long and when I drive it straight, I tend to score well.
Who is your best golfing friend?
Adam Scott – he’s a tall guy too and his swing is so good to watch.
Do you have any golfing superstitions?
From golf, I’d choose Jack Nicklaus. The concession in the Ryder Cup, the way he carried himself while competing and the way he’s become an elder statesman of the sport are inspiring things for every sportsperson.
My five iron - it feels like the perfect length for me and there’s nothing better than a properly hit long iron.
Being long, I can give myself a lot of good scoring opportunities on my day, but the putter lets me down at times.
The opening three holes of the Dawson Course are a key place to build a good score.
At the 404-yard fourth hole, your drive must be played just left of the pond on the right half of the fairway to leave a good angle to the green. Those who choose to bail out left, away from the out of bounds and pond on the right of the fairway, face a long approach over trees to a green which slopes from back to front. Beware the out of bounds to the right side when coming in from the wrong fairway with your second shot too.
amed after Longhirst founder Tommy Dawson, according to its course rating, the Dawson Course is the tougher of the two layouts here. Longer than its sister course and featuring significantly smaller putting surfaces with trickier green complexes, the par-73 course is a complete examination of golfing skill from tee to green. Great drivers enjoy many rewards, while those who are loose will generally find their ball, though their route to the green may have to traverse trees, bunkers and some of Longhirst’s famous lakes.
Turning back 180 degrees, the challenging fifth is the signature hole on the Dawson Course.
The Dawson Course
A short par four of just over 300 yards follows and the bigger hitters can leave a short approach and look to make another early birdie here, though they must avoid the trees on the left side en-route to the green as tangling with these will leave a tough shot to a small raised green with a single bunker on its front left corner.
A short opening par five of 487 yards requires less than driver from the tee for most to stay short of the water which crosses the fairway. From here the fairway is generous and the green is guarded by a single bunker in the front right corner and a pond on the left side beyond the green. Lay up to your preferred pitching distance and look to make birdie here.
A good start comes in very handy as the fourth and fifth holes are two of the most difficult par fours at Longhirst.
White tees 6,713 yards • Yellow tees 6,446 yards Red tees 5,607 yards
The 394-yard par four fifth hole requires a confident tee shot. If you’re feeling brave, hit driver into the narrowest part of the fairway between the trees on the left and lake on the right to give yourself the best chance of hitting the near-island green in two. Approaches from too far back or coming over the trees on the left side are almost impossible as the green is almost completely encircled by water. Good luck!
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course10
A par three of 169 yards, the third has a small, flat green and there are no bunkers here. The wind can be tough to judge with trees beyond the flag at this hole, so make a note as you play the second.
“Great driving unlocks scores on the Dawson Course, which is a little longer than the Lakes Course and has smaller greens. Finding the fairways with long tee shots is the best way to build your score here” Caddy’s tip
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Anotherwell.birdie opportunity follows at the short par five 11th – just get your drive past the lake on the left and it’s a straight run to another small green, though one which welcomes shots running up towards it.
The easiest of the par threes on the Dawson Course, the 12th measures just 161 yards. Avoid the bunker on the right of the green though - it’s very tough to hold the green and save par from in there.
The 317-yard 10th offers a chance to recover from the challenge of the ninth. Lay up in the widest part of the fairway from the tee to avoid running out into the lake on the left. A short approach to a relatively flat green can yield a birdie putt when played
The 379-yard 15th finishes this tough stretch of the Dawson Course. Big hitters can cut the corner of the left-to-right dogleg by taking on the bunker on the right side and shortening the second shot to a small green with a single bunker on its front right corner.
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course12
The 510-yard par five sixth is in reach in two for some, should you avoid the bunker on the right side of the fairway. From here the route to the green complex in unobstructed, just be sure to stay out of the bunker on the front right corner of the putting surface and you’ll have a chance for Thebirdie.400-yard seventh follows and a good drive will leave just an iron to a small green with no hazards.
The 364-yard par four 17th is a good birdie chance with room from the tee and a generous green which features a single bunker on its right side. Long drivers should look to capitalise on this opportunity late in the
a 386-yard par four which turns from left to right, you need to plot your route around the corner. Some can drive over the bunker on the right and shorten the hole while most should simply play left and tackle a longer approach. The second shot is played downhill to a green which features a bunker across much of its front edge.
A par five of 573 yards leads you into the turn. A real three-shotter, water is in play for each shot and a cautious approach is advised. Favour the left side from the tee to leave a second shot over the corner of the lake on the left. From here, play through the narrow entrance to the green which is flanked by water on both sides. A demanding par five and a real cardwrecker when played too aggressively.
Many good scores on the Dawson Course start with birdies on a couple of the opening holes and are wrapped up with a birdie or two on the final two.
Three tough par fours in the middle of the back nine have ruined many scores.
At the 375-yard par four eighth, picking an accurate line to cut the dogleg is essential if you hit driver, while the conservative play is to aim at the marker with a long iron or fairway wood and leave a longer approach to the green. Those who choose to lay well back and avoid the risk of the tee shot will face a tough second shot to a narrow green with no bunkers.
The 371-yard 13th requires an accurate tee shot down to the water’s edge. You’ll want to get as far down as possible here as the uphill approach is long and the front of the green slopes steeply back towards the fairway. Balls which fail to make it up to the green will roll back and players will face a difficult pitch up the hill to salvage par.
The 414-yard par four 14th offers plenty of room from the tee, if you stay clear of the lake on its left side, and you need a big drive to have a chance to getting up to the green in regulation. The best line to the green, avoiding the single bunker on its front right corner, is from the left side of the fairway.
At just under 200 yards, the 16th isn’t as tough as it appears on paper - as long as you make the carry up the hill to the green. Anything which lands just short of this wide green will leave an uphill pitch or risk finding the bunker which is cut deceptively short of the front right corner.
COURSE PROFILE www.longhirstgolf.co.uk / 01670 791 562 13
of Longhirst Hall Golf Course14
“My dream fourball has to feature the two greatest players of all time - Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus - and I’ll add in Lee Westwood as he’s a legend of English golf and fantastic company” years
One of England’s all-time greatest bowlers, Steve was a huge part of English cricket in the 2000s, particularly the historic 2005 Ashes win. Since retiring in 2013, he has transitioned into broadcasting and punditry, working with TalkSport in the UK and with broadcasters in India.
Having taken up golf under the guidance of Durham teammate Paul Collingwood, Steve first visited Longhirst 25 years ago with several of his teammates. Since then, he has become a member of the club and splits him time between Longhirst and the links of Newbiggin.
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ngland and Durham cricket legend Steve Harmison holds a special place in English and North East sport, and his 25-year association with Longhirst - close to his hometown of Ashington – has been a rewarding one.
With the chance to play so many courses, why does Steve choose to be a member of Longhirst?
“I have a great friendship with, and a huge amount of respect for, Graham Chambers and the golf club he has
At 6ft 4ins, Steve was always destined to drive it a long way and while he had power, it wasn’t until after retiring from cricket that he reached a single-figure handicap.
“I love the game and being part of it. Golf fills my need to play competitive sport, while the community is second to none.”
shaped under the guidance of Tommy Dawson,” adds Steve. “Tommy has a long history of supporting local sport – the Dawson & Sanderson Cup at Ashington Cricket Club was always a special day – and what he’s created for the local community is a great testament to a man with a great passion for the area.”
English cricket legend Steve Harmison on his 25-year association with Longhirst and its special place inNorth East sportBowled over by Longhirst
“I made my Durham debut in ‘96, started playing golf in ‘97 and made my first visit to Longhirst not long after,” he explains. “We would rock up to the old hut and head out onto a very new, very different golf course with views across to the A1. It has evolved and improved, as has my golf, and it’s incredible to reflect on all that’s changed in the last 25 years.”
“My best cricket and golf didn’t overlap too much,” he says. “Since retiring, I’ve put some work in and reaped the rewards. I play a lot of golf at home and when I travel to commentate. While I love working in cricket, I’ll admit a quick finish to an ODI or a test match only lasting four days is never a bad thing as I get to play golf on some of the most spectacular courses in the world.
“I come to Longhirst because of Graham’s passion for this place; the camaraderie; the relaxation I feel when I drive through the gates; and the great variety and challenge of the two golf courses. For me, this is unlike any other golf experience in the world.”
As well as playing golf here, Steve has built a strong relationship with the club.
Looking back at the vast blank canvas Tommy purchased in 1994, it’s remarkable to think a reclamation of this scale was even possible. Where once stood miles of scarred earth and hues of brown and grey, today lies two spectacular golf courses with green fairways, blue water and all the colours and movement of thousands of plants, animals and birds.
1. The site of the sixth green on the Lakes Course • 2. Early stages of creating the green on the second hole of the Lakes Course • 3. Construction of the original putting green next to the first tee on the Dawson Course • 4. Graham Chambers welcoming the ducks to their new home in front of the first tee on the Dawson Course • 5. Early arrivals in the pond on the sixth hole on the Lakes Course • 6. Beginning construction of the fourth green on the Lakes Course
7. Looking west from the 17th tee on the Lakes Course
Construction began in 1995, with director of golf Graham Chambers arriving soon after. The first 18-hole layout officially opened in 1997 with nothing more than its golf holes, a greenkeeping shed, and a
Further enhancements to the site have been part of the Longhirst story throughout the last 25 years, with the academy and its floodlit driving range opened in 2014.
E ven with the help of photographs, it’s incredibly hard to picture that the site now occupied by Longhirst Hall Golf Course was once the largest manmade hole in Europe.
shared space with the cricket and hockey clubs in their clubhouse. By 2003, 11 new holes were created, turning Longhirst into a rather unconventional 29-hole complex with holes dubbed ‘the spares’. In 2008, seven new holes - which would be combined with 11 from the original 18 –were added to create the Dawson Course. The second 18 became the Lakes Course.
What was once the largest hole in Europe is today home to tens of thousands of golfers each year and one of the region’s most successful golf businesses.
Take a trip back to the mid-1990s and the early days of Longhirst Hall Golf Course
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course16
Out of the ashes
the closure of the Taylor Woodrow-operated site, a portion of the land was purchased by Tommy Dawson, founder of travel agency Dawson & Sanderson, in 1994. His vision was to create high-quality golf for people in the immediate area at a low cost relative to many of the older clubs nearby.
Having outgrown its shared space, the golf operation moved into its own clubhouse during the construction of the final seven holes in 2007.
Site of the Butterwell opencast mine, which operated from 1976 to 1993 and yielded 13 million tonnes of coal from a depth of up to 135 metres, today there is no sign of the excavations, the giant machinery which was operated on the site - including the famous Big Geordie dragline excavator - or the hundreds of miners who worked here each day. Instead, you’ll find a site fully reclaimed by nature, two mature golf courses, and a thriving golfFollowingclub.
HISTORY 1 4 6 725 3 www.longhirstgolf.co.uk / 01670 791 562 17
“My dream fourball would include Tiger Woods as he’s the best ever; Sergio Garcia as I’ve loved his swing since I was little and watched the clips of him on the Golf Channel; and my dad, Dave, as he got me started in golf and he’s still so passionate about it”
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course18
“Each of the departments are made up of great people and we work well together to offer what I think is a relaxed yet incredibly high-quality experience to every person who steps foot on the first tee or sits down in the clubhouse.
Billy has seen a lot at Longhirst, even in just 10 years, from changes in how the business operates to the numerous investments made in the offering for members and guests, and the maturing of both The Dawson and The Lakes courses.
MEET THE TEAM
If you’re new to the club and need to ask a question, or just looking for a friendly welcome whenever you walk through the doors of the clubhouse, Billy’s your man.
with assistant director of golf Billy Kingsland
20.“It’s always been a privilege to be part of the Longhirst team and having the opportunity to step up into the newly created role of assistant director of golf in 2022 has been exciting.”
“Longhirst is a very modern club, there’s no stuffiness or tradition for the sake of it, and we like to see people enjoy themselves and feel at home here.”
“Like all golfers, I’d like to keep improving and bring my handicap down,” he says.
As well as working at the club, Billy plays a lot of his golf here - splitting his time between Longhirst and his boyhood club, Arcot Hall. A former Longhirst club champion, Billy holds a handicap of scratch and makes the most of the facilities outside of his time in the office.
“I couldn’t imagine working anywhere other than Longhirst,” says Billy. “It’s been such a big part of my life since the age of
uilding a career in golf is a dream for many and for Billy Kingsland that dream came true at Longhirst as a young shop assistant. Fast forward 10 years and today Billy takes a leading role in the operations of the club, working alongside Graham Chambers as his assistant director of golf.
“I’ve made some good changes to my swing with our head teaching professional Paul Fiddes and spend a lot of time working on my game at the academy, which has everything you need to stay sharp.”
“Things never stand still very long here and while every day brings new challenges, we’ve overcome so many, particularly in recent years, that little phases us these days.
A warm welcome
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Foundation is delightedth anniversary of Longhirst delighted to celebrate the 25th Golf Club.
Get in touch with us to learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org
We were thrilled to launch the Foundation on the Course in September 2021, and are grateful to Longhirst for their continued support for the work we are doing to build employment opportunities in the Northeast.
Our objective is to create an industry-leading benchmark program centred around exemplary social values; an initiative that ﬁrmly mirrors Britishvolt’s core objectives of levelling up and being a good neighbour to the local community.
Through the inspirational and innovative training and education programme we’re developing within STEM subjects and the green sector, people of all ages in local communities will have access to high quality, accredited gateway qualiﬁcations and the social support to help them meet and expand their career aspirations.
quite a bit, but I’m sensible and you won’t find me leaving my legs out on the golf course on a Friday afternoon,” he adds. “There’s certainly a competitiveness between the boys and some of the ex-players, and there’s always a few quid on the line when we all get out here.
“The chance to get away, switch off and spend some time out in the countryside away from social media and football is so important. I choose to spend my time here because it ticks so many boxes, but that feeling of escapism is right at the top of the list. I also think the two courses are fantastic and the setting is very special.”
Keeping up with Karl
Newcastle United goalkeeper and Longhirst member Karl Darlow on swapping shot-stopping for shot-making
“I think it’s a fantastic club to be a part of and I always look forward to coming to Longhirst.”
While lots of his golf is concentrated in the summer break, you’ll still find Karl out on the course in the winter months after training and down at the academy working on his “Igame.doplay
“For my dream fourball, I’ll start with Brooks Koepka as I think he’d be good fun to play with. I like the way Justin Thomas plays too so I’ll add him in there, and watching Bryson hit it as hard as possible would be interesting as well. I’ve got some good variety and there could be some fireworks out there too”
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course22
Karl quickly became a popular face around the club and joined as a member. In the eight years which have followed, his golf has improved a great deal, while his love for Longhirst’s golf courses has also grown.
here’s a lot about golf which appeals to Newcastle United goalkeeper Karl Darlow - not least the chance to send balls speeding into the distance rather than them flying towards him.
you can and can’t do... just come along and enjoy your golf.
Like many of his teammates, when he’s not on a football pitch there’s a good chance you’ll find him on the golf course as he escapes the frenzied world of football and the attention it brings.
“Golf has become a big passion of mine since moving to the North East,” says Karl. “I’d played a bit in Nottingham, but when I joined Newcastle it was an opportunity to spend time with my new teammates and lots of them played up at Longhirst.”
“I’m so happy to have found Longhirst when I arrived in the North East. It’s become an important place for me to relax and spend time with so many friends, from football and the golf club.
Karl started his career at Nottingham Forest before signing for Newcastle in 2014. In his eight years in the North East, he has made 86 appearances for the Magpies.
“Golf is such a fantastic escape from football and I’m lucky to have found a great club to be part of so quickly,” he says. “I’ve met friends for life here and I know I can pop along any time, play a few holes and relax in the clubhouse without all the fuss you get in the city. I love the modern approach here - no silly rules about what
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Youth Cat 2 (22-24) £300 N/A Yes N/A
aving been at the forefront of the change in how golf club membership fees are structured in the UK, today Longhirst Hall Golf Course offers a full range of options
Option 1 £625 £20 Yes N/A
Option 2 £270 N/A Yes £10
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course
CATEGORY ANNUAL FEE BAR CREDIT INCLUDED GOLF UNION FEE IN ADDITION GREEN FEE PER ROUND
Youth Cat 1 (18-21) £250 N/A Yes N/A
Enjoy everything Longhirst has to offer Join the club
Option 1 Priv (after two years) £600 £20 Yes N/A
Corporate memberships are also available. Created around your requirements to include tee times, golf days, on-site advertising, digital promotion, and lots more - the team will be very happy to discuss building a lasting partnership with your business. To discuss corporate membership, please contact Graham Chambers, tel 01670 791 562 or email email@example.com All prices correct at time of printing.
Junior £60 N/A N/A N/A
to suit those looking to play multiple times per week, regularly in the summer months, or on a completely flexible basis while maintaining all the benefits of golf club membership.
Seniors (55+) £350 £10 Yes £5
For more information on individual membership opportunities, please visit longhirstgolf.co.uk/membership
Theside.longer par four second, which measures 392 yards from the white tees, also requires a driver if you wish to fly over the fairway bunker on the right and make it into the most generous part of the fairway. Big hitters should take note of the water which crosses the fairway here, though it is out of reach for most. The second shot is easiest from the right side as those playing from the left must play over a large greenside bunker. A generous green is cut into the hillside and slopes steeply from back to front.
A par four of 427 yards from the white tees and a par five of just 447 yards from the yellow tees, reaching the green at the third hole often requires three shots. Water is very much in play on the right side here, while the lake cuts in front of the raised green too - demanding players hit over the
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course26
Played downhill with views across the golf course and the Northumberland countryside, the sixth is a worthy signature hole for the Lakes Course.
Three tough par fours, each featuring water, ensure scores are kept under control on the front nine.
hazard to reach a small green framed by giant pine trees.
White tees 6,101 yards • Yellow tees 5,660 yards
Red tees 4,991 yards
Measuring just 147 yards from the white tees and played steeply downhill, the sixth may look a bit of a pushover on paper, However, its tiny green is ringed by water on three sides while the wind can play havoc on this exposed part of the course. A solid strike and a bit of luck is always required to find the green.
he Lakes Course is aptly named with water featuring on 15 of the 18 holes. Just like its sister course, the Dawson, the par-70 Lakes Course has matured beautifully to offer a golfing challenge backed by flora and fauna, and its daunting water hazards.
The Lakes Course
Head up the hill and onto the fourth tee, where you are once again faced with water. At less than 400 yards, caution is advised here as trees and the out of bounds fence will cause havoc for those who bail out away from the water on the left and steer their ball out to the right. The green is one of the smallest on the course with a narrow entrance with slopes down towards the lake on the left. There’s a smaller pond on the right side too.
The Lakes is designed to test your ability to control the golf ball. While driver can be used sparingly on a few chosen holes, it’s best to lean on your second shots to make your score, and avoid making too manyThoughsplashes.water features just beyond the tee box at the short, 340-yard par four first it is not in play here. A generous fairway invites you to hit driver to open the round and leave a simple approach to the green, which is guarded by a single bunker on its left
An uphill par three of almost 200 yards, the fifth hole features a plateau green. While this hole features no water or bunkers, it still requires an accurate shot to find the correct portion of a particularly large and undulating putting surface..
At the seventh, your tee shot must favour the left side to leave an unobstructed route to the green. Any shots played out to the right will face an
COURSE PROFILE www.longhirstgolf.co.uk / 01670 791 562 27
“A round on the Lakes Course is a ball striking examination. Not too long, the key here is to keep your ball out of the water, so plot your route from tee to green to ensure you’re creating the right kind of waves out there” Caddy’s tip
The longest hole of this stretch, the eighth is just under 400 yards from the white tees and will tempt many players into hitting driver in order to reach the green in two. Those who do reach for the driver, be warned, the fairway is narrowest where you’re looking to pitch the ball. For those who find the short grass, the second shot is uphill to a green which slopes from back to front and has multiple runoff areas.
The final hole on the front nine is also the shortest of this tough stretch. The 343yard ninth features a particularly daunting tee shot for those who don’t like to see water right in front of their nose. In reality, this lake isn’t really in play, nor is the pond on the right side. Players should instead take note of the lakes beyond these on the left and right sides. It’s best to play accurately into the fairway here as the green is a small target.
At just over 200 yards, a great shot is required to reach the green at the 15th. The green and its surrounding slopes are generous and can help players, while those who play too far away from the water on the right will find sand in a cavernous bunker.
For many, the short par four 11th is the best birdie opportunity on the Lakes. One of the only holes which doesn’t feature water, the fairway is generous - though beware the green, it’s one of the most difficult to read on the course.
Played from a spectacular position at the highest point on the course, the tee shot at the par four 17th is played downhill and should be positioned as close to the water on the right side as you dare. The approach to one of the narrower greens on the course must be played in high to avoid the trees and two ponds which flank the green.
A final opportunity for birdie comes at the 18th. Having driven over the pond and avoided the bunker on the left you’re faced with a second shot around the corner of the dogleg-left to a wide raised green with sand protecting both sides.
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course28
While water is again in your eyeline from the tee, it shouldn’t be in your mind at the par three 10th. A mid-iron is all that’s required to find this long, narrow green.
While a reachable par four of less than 300 yards from the yellow tees, the 13th requires an incredibly accurate tee shot, with any club, when played as a 377-yard par four from the white tees. The fairway doglegs from right-to-left around a lake and water lurks left and right on the second shot, particularly if you find the slope on the left of the green.
The Lakes Course’s second pair of par threes follows, beginning with the simpler 177-yard 14th. A small green set on top of a hill lies beyond the edge of the lake and while there is a little help from the contours at the back of the green, balls played cautiously out to the right will bounce away from the putting surface and leave a challenging pitch back up the hill.
With two par fives in the last three holes, there’s always a chance to finish well here.
The 504-yard 16th has no water, though players must navigate around a bunker on the inside of the left-to-right dogleg while staying out of the trees which flank the fairway. The route to the green is protected by a single large bunker on the left side while another trap lurks on the front right corner of the green.
The second hole with alternate pars – a par five of 445 yards from the white tees and a par four of 382 yards from the yellow tees – how you play the 12th differs greatly depending on your tees. Played blind over the crest of the hill, your tee shot must be played cautiously, favouring the right side to avoid running into the lake on the left. The lake hugs the left side and makes the layup tricky for those who’ve played back. The fairway then rises to a green which slopes steeply from back to front.
approach over trees which are far more of a challenge than they once were. Meanwhile, wild drives out to the right will disappear out of bounds. The fairway turns almost 90-degrees to a green with no bunkers, though there is water on the right side should you tangle with the trees.
COURSE PROFILE www.longhirstgolf.co.uk / 01670 791 562 29
l-r John Matthews, Ian Mason, Tony Smith, John Boulton and Anne Middleton
Celebrating years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course
A long story
Five of Longhirst’s longest-serving members share what makes this place special for them
For five of the club’s longest-serving members – Tony Smith, John Boulton, Anne Middleton, Ian Mason and John Matthews –Longhirst has a particularly special place in their lives, though the earliest days weren’t all plain sailing, as John Boulton, the first club captain, explains: “When I first played here in 1997, the golf club had a small hut, no clubhouse, and 18 brand new golf holes. There were some teething problems and people questioned if the course would ever get to a high standard. I think those doubters have been proven very wrong over the following 25 years.”
“When I arrived in the North East, Longhirst was unlike any other club I visited,” says Tony. “The small seniors’ section at the time was so welcoming and friendly, I just had to be part of it.”
As well as the golf courses and playing the game, the one thing which shines through is the friendliness of the club and how easy it is to enjoy your time here, as John Boulton sums up perfectly: “To create a golf club which is so large and successful, yet still so friendly, is Tommy and Graham’s greatest achievement.”
“We’ve got a fantastic club,” adds Ian. “Our seniors vs ladies match is always a highlight and the friendship between all the members is a big positive of the club.”
hen you spend time at Longhirst, you realise what makes this golf club so special is the people it brings together.
Created to offer high-quality, good value golf for local people, today Longhirst has one of the largest memberships in the north of England and brings together a diverse group of golfers.
“Unlike so many golf clubs, female members and juniors have the exact same privileges as everyone else here and can play when they choose, which is so important to feeling part of the club,” adds Anne, who was one of the first female members of Longhirst. “Following the success of coaching programmes, the ladies’ section has grown to 40-plus members with various teams and regular club events - which is fantastic to see having started with just four golfers.”
All regular players and visitors to the clubhouse, the group also agree Longhirst’s approach to membership and its organisation has been important.
www.longhirstgolf.co.uk / 01670 791 562 31
As membership numbers grew and the golf club developed, so did its sectionsfrom the incredibly popular seniors’ section to the ladies’ section, which Anne played a big part in developing.
“I’ve been in a few different membership categories over the years and the flexibility while I was working was tremendous. The options made it easy to get into the game and as I played a bit more, I moved through the system,” says John Matthews, who has been at Longhirst since 1997.
“While the golf courses are tricky, they’re playable for every type of golfer from a tour player through to the seniors,” adds John Boulton. “The playability is huge selling point and allows so many different golfers to enjoy their game,” adds Ian.
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Every guest can expect the same high level of service, from a chance to warm up and practise at the academy before your round to a warm welcome and fantastic food in the clubhouse after your day on the golf course.
Hosting an event at Longhirst is an unforgettable experience and the team are on-hand to deliver everything from organising on-course scoring, challenges and golf buggies to prize tables, gift bags and bespoke dining packages pre- and post-round. Take a look at some of the events hosted here over the last 25 years and you’ll see anything is possible. a visit to Longhirst and enjoy the member-for-a-day experience
www.longhirstgolf.co.uk / 01670 791 562 33
pend a day at Longhirst and you’ll understand why the members love it here so much.
A grand day out
For more information on individual green fees and group/society packages, please visit longhirstgolf.co.uk
Having followed in his father’s footsteps, Michael rose through the refereeing ranks and made his Premier League debut in 2010. Since then, he has taken charge in the Champions League and the 2021 FA Cup Final, and will referee at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in WhileQatar.hisdiary is packed with football, Michael can be found at Longhirst up to a couple of times per week - playing in competitions or alongside his parents, both of whom followed his lead and took up the game at Longhirst three years ago.
Having refereed at the highest level, Michael has seen many of football’s greatest players up close and while there are some players, and managers, he’d avoid, some are welcome to join him for a round.“There are plenty I only want to deal with for 90 minutes,” he laughs. “I would like to play golf with Craig Bellamy though. He’s a good golfer and he’d have some great stories from his time at Newcastle. On the pitch, he was a winner. He was a nightmare
Away from work, Michael feeds his own need competition, and escapism, with regular visits to Longhirst.
fter 90 minutes in the deafening noise of a Premier League stadium, anyone would want to escape out onto the golf course. For North East-based referee Michael Oliver, there’s nowhere better to decamp than Longhirst.
Having been a member of several local clubs, Michael chose Longhirst because of its two golf courses, the atmosphere around the club and the modern approach to the membership experience.
“The combination of the Dawson, which is tougher on paper, and the shorter, but often trickier, Lakes course is perfect,” he says. “Add in that this is such a good place to unwind away from the football crowd and my phone in such beautiful surrounding, and Longhirst is the perfect place to spend my time.”
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course34
to referee as he’d argue black was white – such was his level of intensity and desire to win. I’d like to see if that psychology is the same on the golf course. It would also be fascinating to learn how he made that level of intensity work so well.”
“I’ll play as often as possible,” he says. “While it can be hard to fit in, I always find a game with the big group of friends I’ve made here, or with my dad. We can always get out onto one of the two courses, even at short notice. With 36 holes, the groups are spread out, so the pace of play is great and there’s loads of competitions so I can keep my game sharp and satisfy my need to play with a couple of quid on the line.
“Golf’s such a complicated, frustrating game, and I love it,” says Michael - who started playing golf at school and holds a handicap of five. “The golf bug is a real thing, one day you’ll play the best round of your life and the next will be a shocker. Even in an awful round, there’s that one shot that brings you back the next time.”
“I’ve settled in here over the years. I’m part of a great group and we get out to some courses in the North East as well as playing here. We also get in the clubhouse, which has a relaxed feel and is perfect after a long day on a Saturday or three days away for a midweek game in Europe.”
Michael Oliver on swapping the pressure and noise of refereeing at football’s highest level for the tranquillity of Longhirst’s
“For my dream fourball, I would choose Tiger Woods as the greatest golfer; Donald Trump for his incredible stories - though refereeing him could be difficult based on some of the things I’ve read; and Nelson Mandela as he was such a fascinating and inspirational figure”
www.longhirstgolf.co.uk / 01670 791 562 35
Here you can also check-in for your round, get information on competitions and handicaps, and buy golf balls and accessories before heading out onto the course. It’s always worth popping in.
hether you’ve had a few hours on the golf course, a hectic day at work, or need somewhere to grab lunch on the run, there is nowhere better to head to than the clubhouse at Longhirst.
A modern take on the golf club experience, the clubhouse is the heart of everything that goes on at Longhirst with breakfast and lunch served daily with views out to the golf course and Sky Sports on theFromTV. pre-round breakfasts to post-
Be our guest
Whether you’ve played 18 holes, practised at the academy, or popped in for lunch, there are few better places to relax than Longhirst’s clubhouse
golf day meals, golfers are well catered for here and the team pride themselves on making the welcome a warm one for every guest. On the menu, you’ll find hearty breakfasts and light lunches while the two signature burgers - The Dawson and The Lakes – have won great popularity among members and visitors.
Far right - The Dawson burger 6oz beef burger stacked with bacon, potato waffle, giant onion rings, cheddar, lettuce, tomato and burger sauce
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course36
Right - The Lakes burger Chicken breast coated in cornflakes and served with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise
The clubhouse is open every day for members, visitors and the general public.
CLUBHOUSE www.longhirstgolf.co.uk / 01670 791 562 37
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William Harrold (-3) beat Bradley Dredge in a playoff
Duncan Stewart (-2)
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course40
Looking back at the PGA EuroPro Tour’s nine successful visits to Longhirst Hall between 2010 and 2018
Graeme Clark (-3) beat James Busby in a playoff
While today they are some of the leading lights on the world stage, players who’ve cut their teeth on the developmental circuit at Longhirst include 2021 Porsche European Open winner Marcus Armitage (played at Longhirst in 2010, 13, 14, 15); three-time DP World Tour winner Eddie Pepperell (2011); 2020 Scottish Open winner Aaron Rai (2012, 14, 15); twotime DP World Tour winner Bradley Dredge (2014); 2021 Scandinavian Mixed winner Jonathan Caldwell (2012, 15, 16, 17); and PGA
George Woolgar (-7)
he EuroPro Tour, the UK’s largest and the world’s most broadcast developmental golf tour and an official satellite of the DP World Tour, has made nine visits to Longhirst in the club’s history. Each event, from 2010-2018, welcomed some of the UK and Europe’s best up and coming male professionals to compete over 54 holes.
Stuart Archibald (even) beat Matt Allen and Daniel Gaunt in a playoff
Tour player Callum Tarren (2015). There has also been a host of local professionals take part in events at Longhirst, including three-time DP World Tour winner Ken Ferrie (2017), while current EuroPro Tour members and local lads James Wilson and Christian Brown progressed through Q School at Longhirst in 2022.
As well as great players, the events brought the Sky Sports cameras to Longhirst and saw volunteers from across the region support the events.
“We absolutely love Longhirst,” says Dan Godding, CEO of the EuroPro Tour. “It’s a cracking club, one of the finest in the North East, and we had nine very successful visits there for tour events. Graham and the team have made it into a very special place, and it still holds a special place in my heart, and the hearts of many of our current and former players.”
Dawson Sanderson& Classic Dawson Course
Nick Marsh (-7) beat Brendan McCarroll in a playoff
Sam Connor (-10) beat Joe Dean in playoff
Sam Connor (-2) Dawson Sanderson& Classic Dawson Course Matthew Cort (-8)
Dawson Sanderson& Classic
Dawson Sanderson& Foreign Exchange Classic
2015 2016 2017 2018 www.longhirstgolf.co.uk / 01670 791 562 41
Work on your game with Longhirst’s head teaching professional Paul Fiddes, who
The academy is open to members, visitors and the general public 9am-9pm daily (noon on Wednesdays). For more information on the academy, please visit longhirstgolf.co.uk/academy
Sharpen your short game with a huge green, two bunkers and a 360-degree playing area.
of Longhirst Hall Golf Course42
Custom fit Find the perfect clubs for you with custom fitting available with Srixon and Cleveland as well as regular demo days hosted at the academy with golf’s biggest brands.
has worked with players of all abilities throughout his 17-year-plus career as a PGA professional.
Improve your technique in the 14-bay, floodlit driving range complete with power tees and multiple targets. You can pay for range balls by card at the dispenser, while range tokens are also available in the clubhouse.
Academy membership Longhirst members automatically receive academy membership while, for £20 per year, anyone can join the programme and enjoy 10% extra when adding credit of £5 or more to their range card, a free round of golf on the Lakes or Dawson course, social membership of the golf club with 10% discount on clubhouse purchases, and priority booking for demo days.
Putting Hone your stroke on the practice putting green outside the clubhouse.
Sharpening up before your round or honing your swing late into the evening on the driving range? Pay a visit to the Practiceacademy makes perfect
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With a busy diary, popular group coaching sessions and a desire to return to competing in the years ahead, you’re more than likely to see Paul at the academy on your next visit.
with head teaching professional Paul Fiddes
“My dream fourball would have to include Jack Nicklaus as he’s such legend. I’d also choose my granddad as he’d love the experience of meeting Jack, and I’d complete the group with my coach and mentor John Harrison as he’s been such an important figure in my life”
aving forged his career as a PGA professional in the North East before heading off to London, Paul Fiddes returned to Northumberland in 2020 and found a new home at Longhirst’s academy.
A talented golfer, Paul picked up a club for the first time at the age of nine, following his father’s lead. He went on to represent England and win the Northumberland County Championship before turning pro in 2005. He then worked at Matfen Hall under his long-time coach and mentor John Harrison for 13 years before heading to London to launch an indoor golf studio. When Covid hit in 2020, Paul headed back north and landed at Longhirst at the perfect time.
Paul coaches a wide range of players, and runs successful beginner programmes for women and juniors.
Back on thehomerange
“I’m so happy to be back home and to be part of Longhirst,” says Paul, whose grandfather lived in Pegswood and worked at the mine which would be transformed into Longhirst. “The timing was just right and I was keen to make the most of the excellent driving range and academy setup.”
MEET THE TEAM
Since joining Longhirst, Paul has been instrumental in growing the junior section, with more than 40 boys and girls now involved.
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course44
“Teaching at Longhirst is the best job I’ve ever had,” adds Paul. “The members have been so welcoming and we’ve found some great success in the free coaching and discounted junior membership programmes, which is something I’m really proud of and want to continue to grow.”
“Since I was a teenager, I’ve wanted to coach,” he adds. “Every player is different, so it’s important to teach everyone individually and help them make a repeatable swing with simple thoughts. Each person has different goals too, which is really important to understand as it shapes your lessons and how you’re going to get your message across – from simple video analysis right through to using TrackMan data.”
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with head greenkeeper Stephen Smith
As for the future, Stephen is ready to take on whatever Longhirst offers him.
“There’s always something new,” he adds. “I’ve no doubt we’ll keep making the most of the land we’re lucky to care for.”
A dairy farmer who turned his hand to greenkeeping and a job at Longhirst, Stephen now leads a team of 10 and manages everything from the dayto-day presentation of the courses to construction, irrigation, and plenty more.
“We still have our challenges of coursewe’re a busy club and the weather dictates so much, but we’ve seen a lot of what this place can throw at us over the years.”
Not long after Stephen’s arrival, the club grew into a 36-hole venue. Next came the EuroPro Tour, the construction of the academy, and a couple of steps up to leading the greenkeeping team.
“In terms of highlights, the nine EuroPro Tour visits and seeing Longhirst on Sky Sports stand out.
“It’s great to see how much we’ve changed the landscape,” he says. “When I arrived, you could see nearly every hole from certain points and today the site is completely different and full of activity.
the courses to the best of their ability every single day.
“It’s been a fascinating 20 years and something new still comes up every week,” says Stephen. “When I started, we had one very new course and I had no experience in golf - though I had grown a lot of grass to feed cows.”
“It’s amazing how much my role has changed too. I never planned to be head greenkeeper, it just happened slowly. I’ve studied and stepped up a few times, sometimes by choice and others without realising what Graham signed me up for.”
On course THE TEAM
“Having a full 36 holes is pretty unique in the North East and there’s a lot to look after,” adds Stephen. “I work closely with Graham Chambers, who still gets out on the machines, on the long-term vision for the courses. From there, the lads do a brilliant job - they graft hard and present
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course46 MEET
f you want to know what it takes to present two stunning golf courses, look no further than Longhirst’s head greenkeeper Stephen Smith.
Throughout Stephen’s time here, Longhirst has continued to grow and develop - a process he sees continuing.
“Our membership works great for hosting clients and rewarding staff, and Longhirst has proved a great venue every time we visit. Personally, I love the two golf courses and they’ve matured beautifully in the 15 years since I first visited. The environment around the club, at the academy and in the clubhouse is second to none and there’s always a warm welcome when we visit.”
and professional services to businesses across all sectors in the North East. The Newcastle franchise has grown rapidly in recent years and today works with more than 150 clients and employs a team of more than 150 local people.
“2022 is proving a lot of fun as we too celebrate our 25th birthday,” adds Simon. “We’re enjoying a period of growth having managed to trade through Covid and we’re looking forward to continuing to expand alongside our clients in the months and years
Namedahead.”the Best Commercial Cleaning Business in Tyne & Wear in England’s Business Awards 2022, in November the Minster Cleaning Newcastle team will head to Birmingham to compete for the national title.
Launched in 1997 – the same year as Longhirst Hall Golf Course - Minster Cleaning incelebratesNewcastleits25thbirthday2022.Havingbeensetup
In addition to commercial cleaning in Newcastle, the franchise also covers Gateshead, Sunderland, Washington, South Shields, Tynemouth, Ponteland, Blyth, Ashington, Morpeth, Hexham, Prudhoe and surrounding areas. Nationally, Minster Cleaning is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2022.
25 years of Minster Cleaning Newcastle
A corporate member of Longhirst, Minster hosts golf days at the club annually, having built a close relationship with the club over the last seven years.
As Simon explains: “Our link with Longhirst goes back several years to our first golf day to raise money for a client of ours, Percy Hedley School. Graham Chambers at Longhirst was fantastic to work with from the start and our friendship grew organically. Since that first event, we’ve hosted several more at Longhirst, worked with the club, and become corporate members – all because of the fantastic approach Graham and the club takes to forging business
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by Regional Director David Bibby, today the franchise is led by his son, Commercial Director Simon and has hundreds of strong partnerships with businesses across the North East.
With commercial cleaning clients ranging from offices to power stations and schools to dental practices, and golf clubs like Longhirst, Minster Cleaning has a reputation of providing reliable
Graham Chambers Director of golf
Thomas Dawson Founder and chairman
The people behind the Longhirst experience Meet dreamLonghirst’steamSamBall
25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course48
Wayne Simkins Deputy greenkeeperhead
Alan Eastlake Greenkeeper
Cameron Moore Greenkeeper
Madison Brodie Clubhousememberteam
Billy Kingsland Assistant director of golf
Alex Eastlake Greenkeeper
Max Paterson & Grace Dunn Junior captain & vice captain
Callum Tait Greenkeeper
MEET THE TEAM
Matt Teasdale Mechanic
Abbie Thompson Clubhousememberteam
www.longhirstgolf.co.uk / 01670 791 562 49
David Scurfield Men’s captain
Barbara Tait Ladies captain
Mark Tait Greenkeeper
Pam Tait Clubhouse manager
Stephen Smith Head greenkeeper
Ellie Welsh Clubhousememberteam
Kirsty Wheadon Clubhouse supervisor
David Gilroy Team manager
Celebrating 25 years of Longhirst Hall Golf Course50 LAST WORD
We’lltoo.also be developing our most recent major project, the academy, further. To see groups of up to 50 juniors, some of them smaller than their golf bags, is so inspiring. The success of the academy and driving range, and how this has brought in so many juniors and beginners is one of the most rewarding things we’ve achieved. The boys and girls learning to play the game right now will be so important in the next 25 years of Longhirst.
The development of our team will also be an important part of our future. Having shaped the business over so many years, it’s fantastic to see how each department is improving under its own management and I want to see Longhirst continue to develop hard working, local people.
It’s safe to say - though Tommy may have other ideas – that the heavy lifting is behind us. It’s now our job to refine the business and improve what we deliver for golfers, our guests on and off the golf courses, and the wider community.
with director of golf Graham Chambers
we look to bring the best practices in the golf industry to Longhirst. We’ve always been able to adapt quickly and keep as modern an outlook as possible – from how we manage the business to our customer service levels - and we’ll be continuing that work
That work starts on the golf courses. We will continue to improve the challenge and playing conditions of both courses in the years to come. This work will include some construction projects and we will be continuing our work to improve our agronomy and greenkeeping practices. We will also continue to develop the experience of visiting Longhirst. I still love being hands-on, getting out on a mower and seeing what’s happening as well as engaging with the team and our members and guests to shape what we do next. That work, along with travelling to the best modern golf clubs will continue as
Learning and growing has been so important to where we are. I look forward to continuing that process and I hope you all enjoy the next 25 years of Longhirst as much as I’ve enjoyed these first 25.
aving enjoyed looking back at the first 25 years of the Longhirst story, it’s important to take a moment to look ahead to our future.
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Congratulations to the Longhirst team on 25 incredible years!
Dawson & Sanderson are also celebrating an anniversary in 2022: 60 years of award-winning holidays and service.
Our customers are at the heart of our business. Our commitment to outstanding customer service remains as important today as it did when we sold our first holiday in 1962.
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