We go back to the beautiful Northumberland coast to play the links courses at Goswick and Dunstanburgh Castle.
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.