|22/23 May||Royal St. David's/Aberdovey||Scratch Cups|
|28/29 June||Goswick/Dunstanburgh Castle||Sir Aynsley Bridgland Trophies|
|18/19 July||Dale Hill (AGM)||Handicap Cups & Enjoy Golf Together Trophy|
|21/22 August||Blackmoor/North Hants.||King of Morocco Cup & Society Salver|
|20/21 September||Cavendish/Prestbury||Barlow Seniors & Knight Super Senior Salvers|
Royal St. David's, Monday May 22nd
Aberdovey, Tuesday May 23rd
Royal St Davids
The GSGB returns to Royal St David’s, one of our regular venues for Day 1 of the May Meeting. The course is pure links, beautifully set between towering sand dunes and the imposing Harlech Castle. Behind the dunes, to the northwest, is the sweeping bay of Tremadog and to the north are views across to Snowdon and the lesser peaks of Snowdonia.
Founded in 1894, the course measures 6,500 yards from the back tees and is regarded by many as one of the World’s toughest par 69’s particularly in challenging conditions. It’s not your usual out-and-back links, the holes move in all directions, subjecting each shot to the vagaries of the prevailing westerly wind. The opening dozen holes are fully exposed to the elements. They play back and forth across fairly flat and at times, open ground. The landscape changes dramatically from the 13th as we enter rippling undulating dune land. The bunker free par-four 15th requires a long carry from an elevated tee to a narrow fairway with Mount Snowdon framed in the distance. A decent drive leaves a partially blind approach shot to a raised green nestling between sand dunes. You might catch a quick glimpse of the Irish Sea from the 16th tee before turning back inland towards the clubhouse. Unusually, Royal St David’s finishes with a 200-yard par three with the green directly in front of the clubhouse.
Day 2 of the May Meeting takes us to Aberdovey for the first time. Like Harlech, this wonderful old links is consistently rated in the Top 100 Golf Courses in the GB & Ireland and is a well-established championship venue. The course was designed by legendary golf architects Harry Colt, James Braid and William Herbert Fowler, who worked around the links to create a stunning course. There is so much history at Aberdovey that you cannot help but fall in love with the place. Running alongside this classic out-and-back links is the railway line, reminding us of the days when the trains were full of travelling golfers. Despite its old age, Aberdovey is no shorty, measuring over 6,700 yards from the new back tees. It has tested, the very best golfers, playing host to a number of amateur championships over the years and it was here as a youngster, that Ian Woosnam developed his craft. It isn’t the hardest links course in the British Isles by any stretch of the imagination, but when the wind blows, it can throw the ball off line and into the rough. The club is renowned for its warm welcome and the clubhouse offers full catering facilities as well as having ten twin ensuite bedrooms onsite.
Goswick, Wednesday June 28th
Dunstanburgh Castle, Thursday June 29th
The Society returns to Northumberland in June, our last visit to Goswick being back in 2013. The course was founded in 1890 as Berwick-upon-Tweed Golf Club and lies six miles south of the Border Town of Berwick. It’s not known who laid out the club’s original course but Willie Park Junior (1903), James Braid (1930) and Frank Pennink (1964) have all helped to shape today’s layout.
Goswick is situated between the railway and the dune-lined coastline, the course lying either side of the clubhouse, front nine to the north and back nine to the south. Boasting views of the North Sea and to the south, Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle, there is little to choose between the two nines, both being equally varied in terrain and interest.
Exposed to the elements, the challenge on the front nine is sand dunes, out of bounds on the 6th and 7th and contoured greens, most notably on the medium length par four 8th. The middle holes on the back nine are the most scenic. Add the variable winds of the East Coast, and quite an experience awaits on a course measuring 6,800 yards from the championship tees. In 2018 and 2019 Goswick hosted the Open Championship Regional Qualifying for the first time since 2012.
Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle looming over it, the course is recognised as one of the finest in the area. The first golf course appeared on the links of Embleton Bay in 1900, before being redesigned by the legendary James Braid and then by William Sutherland. A traditional links course, guarded with bunkers and gorse, golfers will need to judge the ever changing wind direction as the course bends around the bay and back.
Today, there is only one par three on the front nine, the 166-yard 4th “Plateau” which, as its name suggests, plays to a raised green with bunkers protecting the front right and left of the putting surface. The lone par five on the card arrives at the 527-yard 14th “Crags”, where out of bounds threatens all the way down the left of the fairway. In the modern era, the course measures 6,263 yards from the back tees with a par of 70. Holes 1 to 6 are laid out to the north of the clubhouse with the remaining holes routed further to the south. The two par threes on the back nine at the 13th and 15th are both terrific holes, but then so are all three of the short par fours at holes 5, 7 and 11.
Dale Hill (AGM), Tuesday 18th July
Wednesday 19th July
Our AGM meeting takes us to Dale Hill Hotel, our first visit to a venue that offers two courses of very contrasting stylesand a modern four-star Hotel complex. Former Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam OBE needs no introduction and tucked away in the East Sussex countryside a few miles south west of Tunbridge Wells is where you will find the course that Woosie built. This is his inaugural attempt at golf course architecture (with a little help from European Golf Design) and it’s perfectly in tune and finely balanced. Built in 1997, the par 72, 6,512-yard layout flows gracefully through undulating, historic woodland in the ridges of the High Weald, perhaps reminiscent of the hills in Woosie’s native Shropshire. The Woosnam course is regarded by many as the superior of the two courses. According to Woosnam, “the course has been designed to have the perfect balance, tough enough for the pros, easy enough for the amateurs and can be enjoyed by all”.
The second course, known Dale Hill Old, is a more traditional parkland design set out over more hilly terrain but playing much shorter with easier walks between the individual holes. Formally a dairy farm, the course opened in 1973 and offers wonderful views over the stunning Sussex countryside.
Although the total length only stretches out to a modest 5800 yards, there is an attractive blend of holes which are mostly tree-lined with small testing greens.
Blackmoor, Monday Aug 21st
North Hants., Tuesday Aug 22nd
This will be the Society’s second meeting at Blackmoor Golf Club nine years after our first visit. Harry Colt originally laid out Blackmoor as just 12-holes, first opening for play in 1913. The outbreak of the Great War prevented the expansion to 18 holes until 1924.
Blackmoor is sandwiched between the North and South Downs at the western end of the glorious sand belt, which cuts a swathe through Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire. The course sits on a picturesque tract of purple heathland, from which the club takes its name. Consisting of two loops of nine, the fairways are surrounded by pine, birch and oak as well as the ever present heather.
At 6,170 yards, Blackmoor may not be the longest of courses but accuracy from the tee is all important. It is only too easy to be blocked out on the second shot! The par 3’s all have the stamp of Harry Colt, namely, elevated greens well guarded by bunkers. The course is noted for the quality of its greens throughout the year and the sloping 18th green presents a final challenge to all golfers. From 1998 until 2003, Blackmoor was a regional qualifying course for the Open Championship where golfers from all over the world began their quest for ‘The Claret Jug’.
Another first for the Society as we make our inaugural visit to North Hants Golf Club, home to US Open winner and Ryder Cup star Justin Rose.
Located near Fleet on the western edge of the glorious sand belt, which cuts through Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire, this delightful heathland course is set amongst stately pines and silver birch with heather and gorse in abundance.
Originally founded in 1904 by James Braid, the the course was re-shaped in 1913 by Harry Colt for the princely sum of £25 and in the 1930s, Tom Simpson made further modifications. Although it’s not the longest course, measuring 6,565 yards from the tips, North Hants was used for Final Qualifying for the 2004 Women’s British Open.
The club also stages an annual amateur competition called the Hampshire Hog. Michael Bonallack was the first ever winner in 1957 and since then Sandy Lyle and Gordon Brand Jnr. have emerged as victors. In 1995, at the tender age of fourteen, Justin Rose won the Hog with a record score of 134. When he turned professional in 1998, Rose was still a North Hants junior member and now, he’s an Honorary Member. No doubt each and every club member follows his progress with great interest.
Cavendish, Wednesday 20th September
Prestbury, Thursday 21st September
We visit the most recent addition to our list of participating clubs on day one of our September meeting in Derbyshire. Dr Alister MacKenzie, the celebrated course designer, was commissioned by the Duke of Devonshire in 1923 to lay out a new 18-hole course, replacing a 9-hole course in nearby Buxton. Cavendish Golf Club was ready for play two years later and it has remained virtually unchanged in character for more than three quarters of a century.
With the overall length measuring a modest 5,721 yards and a par of 68, Cavendish holds true to a couple of MacKenzie’s design principles – that the golf course should look as natural as possible with artificial features blending in seamlessly with the landscape and, above all, be interesting to players of all abilities.
Cavendish has plenty to interest all standards of golfer, whether it be it the elevated tee position of the short par three 4th hole, the blind drive at the 8th hole, the two-tiered green on the 9th or the crescent shaped putting surface on the 13th. Since 2020, the remodelling of many bunkers and thinning out woodlands to recover lost views has meant that Cavendish regularly features in any list of Englands Top 100 courses.
We cross the Derbyshire border into Cheshire for day two of the September meeting and a first GSGB visit to Prestbury, a delightful parkland layout designed by Harry Colt.
Located to the south of Manchester near Macclesfield, this 6,359-yard, par 71 parkland course has been used as a Regional Open Qualifier and it’s laid out over undulating terrain that affords some marvelous views of the surrounding Cheshire countryside.
A favorite run of holes for many is the five par fours from holes 12 to 16 – a stream protects the green at the front of the first of these, followed by a tough, uphill hole that is worthy of its stroke index of 2. The 14th is played to a very small green then out of bounds has to be contended with down the left of the next hole before the loop is completed by the slightly left doglegged 16th hole.
The course makes the most of the dramatic changes in elevation afforded by the rolling terrain. The nature of the site coupled with the sandy subsoil means that the course drains exceptionally well. In recent years Mackenzie & Ebert completed a major course renovation with all bunkers due to be completed by Christmas 2022.