Almost 7,000 yards of genuine links. And a venerable one too – Cleveland Golf Club dates back 130 years to 1887.
Like Seaton Carew, just a few miles away as the crow flies but a much longer drive around the estuary, Cleveland involves a backdrop of industry. In this case, a steel works that closed two years ago. Plus the first four holes are flanked by warehouses and scrapyards.
In places, the club have accepted payment for landfill and used it to create dune-like hills and block out undesirable views. The steel works, which may be pulled down before too much longer, actually provide quite an atmospheric backdrop. Back in the day, they used to belch smoke over the links, which didn't exactly enhance Cleveland's reputation.
If the first five holes are all excellent links fare, Cleveland really gets going from the 6th onwards. This isn't a course where one hole stands out though; rather it is consistently excellent. Honest links hole after honest links hole.
Bunkering is minimal and the greens are mainly flat, but always with enough in them to keep you wondering. The design owes at least something to Harry Colt, while Donald Steel created three new holes in 2000 when the club's lease on the land nearest the town expired and they lost their existing 1st and 18th.
While it is a shame those holes were lost – especially as nothing has been done since with the land they stood on, and you can still see where the holes ran – Steel made good use of some excellent land near the sea.
The long 8th exemplifies what the Cleveland is all about. It's a dead-straight par 5 with the bunkering kept to a minimum but just enough to ensure that you never get a free pass. It has the signature steelworks as a backdrop, it's largely flat and it's entirely honest.
If ever there were a course that is clear about what it's asking you to do, it's Cleveland.