THROUGHOUT England there are around 1,900 golf clubs. Which of those has the best course? Debates have raged for decades, numerous rankings have been published and many of them disputed.
Every golfer has a favourite and a recently updated list is sure to be scrutinised, criticised and praised after revealing its latest findings. But do you agree?
Over the years the Top 100 Golf Courses website (top100golfcourses.co.uk) has gone about measuring criteria such as design, visual appeal, quality, condition of the courses by drawing on previous reviews and carrying out their own with the team of judges.
Their work has taken them all over the world, compiling rankings in different countries and counties – and County Durham has not gone unnoticed.
Top 100 Golf Courses has identified its top 10 out of the 45 clubs in the Durham County Golf Union area. Agree or disagree?
In 1925 Dr Alister MacKenzie – who designed the Augusta National - modified the lay-out and there are now 22 holes to give golfers a variety of options. Not only does Mackenzie's Old Course remain, there is also the Brabazon which will be used when the competition it was named after, the Brabazon Trophy, returns to Tees Road later this year.
It was back in 1924 when Harry Colt, another world famous course architect, designed a beautiful lay-out just five miles from Durham City centre. There are a differing challenges for golfers to face over the 6,400 parklands, with a deep ravine cutting through the course presenting tough tee shots.
This is the newest member of the Durham top ten since opening in 2009. The multi-million pound Rockliffe, designed by Mark Westenborg for Hawtree, is one of Europe's longest at 7,879 yards from the back tees. The lakes, wetlands, woodlands and bunkering all make the Hurworth-on-Tees track a real challenge. Senior Tour golf will return on the five-star site in the summer.
Ramside Hall (Princes and Bishops)
Given this was Jonathan Gaunt's first full course design when he laid up Ramside in 1996, he can still rightly boast that his work created one of the best in the region. All greens are built to USGA specification with 15 lakes build to present seven water features around the 6,851-yard parklands course.
This par 70 course saw James Braid rework some of the holes between the dunes and the tenth is testament to the work he did along the North Sea coast. The beautiful testing hole requires a great drive and second shot between the sandhills. Hartlepool measures 6,298 from the back tees.
Located just one mile from the town centre, the 6,406-yard course provides tests all over 18 holes noted for its natural surroundings. Streams and ponds lie on more than half of the holes above the River Tees, which means breaking par is a significant test for even the best golfers.
This has been described as a 'hidden gem' by previous golf course ranking judges and it is easy to see why after teeing off at the first. Nestled by the River Tees, with the Cleveland Hills in the background, it was reformatted in the 1960s by Henry Cotton after James Braid's earlier work in 1928.
This picturesque course in the Land of the Prince Bishops has been around for more than 100 years since it was laid out on Church Commission ground. It's short par three at the seventh is widely regarded as one of the finest in the area and the quality of the fairways have received glowing praise from all around.
IT is 134 years since Mungo Park opened this well-regarded track, just a few years before his nephew Willie Park Jnr won the Open Championship. It is a club proud of its history and, despite being renowned as one of the most challenging in the Durham Union, Frank Pont is aiming to improve the Harry Colt lay-out further.
The Wynyard Club
Set on more than 200-acres of mature parkland, meandering at times through the luxurious Wynyard housing estate, there are glorious fairways and panoramic views while on the tees and greens have been built to USGA standard. Hosted the Seve Trophy in 2005.
ENGLAND'S TOP TEN
Royal St George’s
Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s
Walton Heath (Old)
THE NORTH-EAST'S TOP FIVE IN ENGLAND'S TOP 100
Ganton – 8th
Seaton Carew – 69th
Fulford – 82nd
Berwick-upon-tweed – 83rd
Close House (Colt) – 88th
* ALL RANKINGS ARE FROM THE TOP 100 GOLF COURSES RANKINGS