“I imagine that the golfer’s eye must be more often taken off the ball at Bamburgh than on any other course,” wrote Bernard Darwin in his 1920s book Golf on the LNER, “the view is so compellingly beautiful that we really have to look at it, no matter how critical the shot. First of all of course there is the Castle which is gorgeous beyond words, as it stands huge and menacing on the top of its sheer wall of rock, looking out to sea. Then in the middle distance are the Farne Islands and away to the left across a stretch of water and sandy headlands we see another castle, small by comparison, but looking very splendid, perched on its stony pedestal, Holy Island, Lindisfarne. Altogether there may be prettier golf courses, but I really don’t think that I have ever seen them, and I have seen a good many by this time.”
There are many scenically stunning golf courses around England’s long coastline but there are none more glorious than Bamburgh Castle. Its elevated cliff top site provides a natural platform from which to drink in the 360-degree views and also the topography provides for some truly memorable holes. We think Bamburgh Castle has a unique opening series of holes, at least we can’t think of any course that starts with two back-to-back par threes followed by two par fives.
According to the R&A Golfer’s Handbook, George Rochester originally fashioned Bamburgh Castle. The course opened for play in 1904 and was apparently later revised, but the vast majority of this 5,621-yard par 68 layout remains as it was back in the times of Bernard Darwin all those years ago… including the warm welcome in the old pavilion styled clubhouse.
Bamburgh Castle has had lots of varying reviews, and as with many similar courses this indicates that it is a course worth visiting and making your own mind up. Personally I love the course for its scenery, elevation changes and sheer fun. It's a sporting course that would never be made these days. Often we play a traditional course and compare a hole to one at Bamburgh, particularly if it has an elevated tee playing across broken ground to a green nestled amongst rocks - superb fun ! It's a quick, great value, supremely enjoyable game of golf to be included in any itinerary in the area or if heading up to or back from Scotland. Not to be missed.
I've played Bamburgh a handful of times now over the years, and it remains one of my favourite courses in the country. It is the epitome of what golf should be about - natural, fun and transportive. Yes, it is short, but never boring, and I don't have much truck with people who measure the test of a golf course on its length anyway. And if you play here when there's a 4 club wind (which there often is!) you will have played magnificently if you've played to handicap. If there is a course with better views in British golf, I'd like to know about it! Surely worthy of nudging ahead of some of the unremarkable tracks languishing near the bottom of the English Top 100?
Bamburgh Castle most definitely falls into the ‘odd sock drawer’ of golf courses… and that’s a good thing!
Sporty in nature this entertaining course was in fantastic condition towards the end of February 2015. It’s an unusual course and whilst I don’t think I would personally wish to play it ‘week-in and week out’ my first round here was highly enjoyable and I would return to play again without any hesitation.
It is very much what I would class as ‘old fashioned’ golf. The terrain is undulating which requires a lot of shot-making and the course boasts exceptionally fine turf; although not a true links it certainly walks and talks like one on many of the holes. The views along the Northumberland Coast and across the sandy beaches out to the North Sea are simply breathtaking too.
The oddities start from the off as you commence the round with two par three’s followed immediately by two par fives! I only found this out for sure after my round because it was a windy day and the scorecard I picked up from the recently refurbished clubhouse was already drifting out to sea by the time I had reached the first green.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Great location: yes
Great condition: yes
Six stars: No! A decent 3.5 stars and maybe 4 if I'm being generous but Bamburgh is nowhere near as good as Pebble Beach, RCD!! I'm rolling around laughing at the thought.
I can only surmise that the six star review was a loyal Bamburgh member after a couple too many beers post-round. Sincerely, Becky (+2 handicap)