AT SLALEY HALL they have moved the hardest until last. Hole 18, stoke index 1.

So when the legs are feeling a little weary and your mindset is slowing down after 17 competitive and challenging holes on a championship course of the highest order, along comes the hardest of them all.

Welcome to the Hunting Course.

Front nine and back nine have changed order, so Slaley’s own Amen Corner has moved around, with the final quartet of the front nine now making up the last four of 18.

While helping to speed up play, and giving players the chance to open up and get some points on the card early with holes one to four open and inviting for big hitters, it also provides the chance to see how the professionals do it.

“It’s a challenge on the opening four holes now we have changed, but it’s something we have done for championships in the past so now everyone can follow the professionals,’’ explained Slaley’s head of golf, Jonny Mould.

“From the 15th, 195 yard par three to the final hole the last four present a real good challenge. And rather than golfers feeling the pressure of four tough holes mid-round, it now means as soon as they are finished they can head straight into the clubhouse to recover!

“The first few holes now offer the chance to get going and get into an early rhythm. What was the opening few were tight and tree-lined, but the changeround means they are now more open. It all makes for a positive start.’’

Hole five is the first par three. Bunker front right, trees to the right, play long towards the blind green. Be accurate for reward.

Stoke index two arrives at the ninth. A long drive rakes towards the stream at the bottom, the same water flowing along to the pond which you may have found a hundred yards to the left from the fourth tee. Second shot is uphill and long towards the green. Playing up towards greens is a common factor throughout.

The back nine starts with a slight dog leg left, and it’s now where accuracy becomes king for a while. Trees start to line the fairways. Hole 11, 390 yards; a long iron opens up the dog leg to the right, where the raised green and inviting bunkers await.

The 15th might ease you into the tougher final three, but a challenge awaits. Tee to green over water, trees and sand surround the green. A long accurate iron is key.

Number 16 and 18 are both played uphill, so club up. For 18, drive through the tree-lined fairway and a steam cuts across your landing area from the tee. Play up to the raised green, with the Slaley Hall Hotel in sight.

With spring taking hold and the course blooming in the sunshine, the course is a tough but rewarding one.

Slaley is a regular award winner and it’s not hard to see why.

“Since I came back in November 2015 the focus has been on awards and excellence,’’ added Mould. “We focus on delivering an exceptional golf experience. We have two great courses and a first-rate hotel.

“Being honest, we are never going to compete with the experience of Gleneagles or the like. But we have been awarded bronze flag status at the annual 59club golf customer service awards.

“Gold flags go to courses in Dubai and Sunningdale, so we are in good company.’’

Slaley Hall was also voted Best Golf Hotel/Resort In The North of England for the fourth successive year in the 2018 Today’s Golfer Travel Awards.

It’s up against some stiff competition, with the North-East developing a number of quality golf experiences.

“We have long had Slaley Hall on the map, but now there’s six, seven, eight top class courses in the region,’’ added Mould. “It certainly keeps us on our toes and makes sure our standards on and off the course don’t slip.

“The North-East is becoming a real top-class golf destination.’’

A two-night, dinner, bed-and-breakfast golf break, with a round of golf on each of the Priestman and Hunting courses, costs from just £175 per person, based on two sharing. Visit