Founded in 1890 on links land named Goswick (Goose Farm) by the Romans, Berwick-upon-Tweed Golf Club, lies six miles south of the Border Town of Berwick, and boasts views of the North Sea and to the south, Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle. 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 the course that's in play today.
A twisting lane between arable fields reaches Goswick Links between the railway and the dune-lined coastline. The links lie either side of the clubhouse, front nine to the north, back nine to the south. There is little to choose between the two nines, both being equally varied in terrain and challenge.
The 1st rises uphill as a dogleg and is followed by a short 2nd across a chasm. The 3rd is now the longest par four on the course at 437 yards. Exposed to the elements, the challenge on the front nine is variously dunes, out of bounds on 6th and 7th and contoured greens, most notably on the medium length par four 8th.
A long par four – 425 yards – opens the second half, before a par five and the 12th, Pilgrim's Way with a narrow landing area off the tee and a blind second shot.
The mid point of the second half is the most scenic and follows a climb from the 14th green which is surrounded by hills on both sides. A par three follows, and while the finish is only medium length, 16 can deceive after a blind tee shot, 17 requires care, and the fairly short 18th is tempting, but a wayward shot can bring penalty from slope or bunker.
Add the variable of the winds of the East Coast, and quite an experience awaits on a course, which now measures 6,800 yards from the championship tees. In 2018 Berwick-upon-Tweed Golf Club will host Open Championship Regional Qualifying for the first time since 2012.
I played Goswick as part of a stop gap in Berwick on a tour up the Open and, along with the rest of my group, was taken aback by how good it was! Along with Siloth on Solway on the fringes of Cumbria, it suffers far too harshly for its remote location and lack of prestige, and like Siloth deserves significantly better in these rankings.
The land itself is absolutely cracking golfing property, with acre upon acre of Northumberland coastline stretching into the horizon. It's a proper links course, with undulating sandy links turf, wispy links rough, gorgeous sea vistas and browned off fairways, using changes in elevation, sweeping doglegs, angled tee boxes and natural undulations to give it its character. Unlike similar style courses I have played - Hunstanton in Norfolk comes to mind - there is a real feeling of space and wilderness here as well, carved through isolated Northumberland duneland as it is.
I felt the front nine had the edge over the back, holes 3 through to 7 being really quite top drawer, though the back has its moments.
It does have its dips, most notably the short par 4 18th which seemed shoehorned in to make up the 18, but never enough to detract from what is clearly a 5 ball course.
Again, it is difficult to understand why this has the ranking it does, not least with the R&A recognising it as good enough for Open qualifying. There are some flaws that stop it being really top drawer, but I haven't played a course outside the England top 50 I would rate over it, and it's more than worth the effort to play.
Before writing this review I did have a browse back through past comments as far back as 2009 and I can now say I've picked myself up off the floor, applied some restorative cream to my aching ribs and I'm ready to go! I did say aching ribs and that is from the sheer jollity of the comment made back in time by a reviewer who claimed that the Glen was better than Goswick; Whitekirk closed down some two years ago and yet that course would still be rated as better than the Glen! But I digress.
Goswick: let's face it this course is a past Open qualifying venue and come 2018 it will be back on the R&A's roster for Open qualifying so let's be under no illusion, it is a serious track with a past history that lesser venues can only dream of. Okay, so Goswick isn't flashy with a slick clubhouse and a spot nestled along the East Lothian coastline but at not far off 7,000 yards from the tips this is unmistakably a brute of a course with wonderfully undulating terrain set within a natural tract of land that James Braid must have salivated over when asked to design. There are a couple of weak holes whereas the afore-mentioned Glen has only a couple of STRONG holes.
Goswick can more than hold its own alongside Gullane 1 and North Berwick within the East Lothian coast. In fact I'd say that the conditioning and layout can knock Dunbar into the proverbial cocked-hat. But of course, Goswick isn't a six-star/ball course but then where is? Royal St Georges and Turnberry, Royal Troon and Carnoustie, Sunningdale and perhaps Ganton but Goswick only suffers through a perception of being unfashionable set as it is in the golfing desert that is Northumberland; though it's also unfashionable because it's so difficult to find tucked as it is some three miles down a barely single-track road leading from the A1. To miss out on playing Goswick is to miss out on a seriously good course where winds from the North Sea are not required to defend the course's honour.
Make no mistake Goswick is a five-ball course up there with those better-known tracks, outside of The Open rota.
Played Goswick in August 2017. As per the majority of the earlier reviews this is an underrated course which should be challenging for a place in the Britain & Ireland top-100. For me it would rank higher than some courses that are well inside the top-100 i.e. Royal St Davids. The course was in excellent condition, particularly the greens which were outstanding. A great variety of holes with just the 18th a slight disappointment being squashed between the 17th green and 1st fairway. Goswick is an ideal stop-off point for anyone heading up to the east coast of Scotland and a must play for fans of serious links golf.
This is an outstanding links course. I played it recently as part of a two-week tour which included Gullane 1 and the west links at North Berwick. Purely as a golf course I would rank it at least as good, and maybe better than either of those more famous (and much more expensive) tracks, excellent though they undoubtedly are.
James Braid did an absolutely magical job of using the terrain, it's a wonderfully natural course. Virtually every hole is interesting and presents a real challenge - the more so if you play it in a 25kph wind, as I did. Under those conditions the 6800 yards off the medal tees makes it quite a brute, but there's nothing unfair about it. Altogether an unexpectedly rewarding experience that offers quite exceptional value for money. Well, well worth a visit.
On my first trip to Scotland, Goswick Links was my introduction to links golf. I picked Goswick because it was more or less half way up between Newcastle and North Berwick. How fortunate I turned out to be! I then liked the people, the simplicity of the lay-out and the absolute serenity that overtakes you when progressing into your round of golf.
We played two rounds on a day ticket that day, and I thought we had a nice day out, nothing more, nothing less.
Only when I played more (links) venues, I started to realise how good the Goswick Links really is as a true, classic links course. Always looked forward returning to Goswick Links ever since.
Although the lay-out is not overly dramatic, and most hazards are in sight, the dunes offer enough blind shots and elevation changes to test your club selection. If the wind starts blowing, better take your A game with you, since most of the holes are pretty exposed to the wind. Being far away from any buildings other than the clubhouse and some farmhouses, the course lies in splendid isolation. On the day we played, I think we met 8 people on the course and 3 others in the clubhouse. Since earlier reviews describe the course in more detail quiet accurate, I won't elaborate to much on the individual holes.
It's assuring that the R&A appreciates the quality of the venue by appointing Goswick Links as Open Qualifying Venue for 2018.
I wander what the ranking of this venue would be, would it have been one of the tracks that St Andrews Links Trusts offer. Rest assured, it would be as packed & jammed with golf tourists as their top venues.
So, if you want to muster the feeling of playing pure links golf at the end of the world, go to Goswick Links and enjoy.
If someone knows other links golf courses that evoke that same feeling, please let me know!
Looking out from the clubhouse at Berwick upon Tweed Golf Club you would be forgiven for thinking that the course wasn’t really up to a great deal. You would be wrong. Very wrong.
For it is not until you venture a little further out onto the bumpy linksland at Goswick that the golf course really starts to come alive and show its full character.
Arguably the worst two shots on the course can be seen as you drive into the club; the opening tee-shot with an ugly copse of trees as well as internal out-of-bounds down the right and the approach to the uninspiring par three ninth.
That aside this classic and genuine links course, found just south of the border town of Berwick, delivers not only a true test of golf but asks you to hit a wonderful variety of strokes, both along the ground and through the air. There is much more movement in the land than you might expect from your initial impression of the course with some superb changes in elevation throughout the 18 holes.
A centrally situated clubhouse, located at the end of a twisting 3 mile single track lane and close to the main East Coast railway line, dissects the course that runs along the beautiful Northumberland coastline; front nine to the north and back nine to the south.
The welcome is always warm and friendly at this much underrated links that has hosted Regional Open Qualifying in its recent history and pushes 7,000 yards from the back tees.
The duneland of the outward half tilts slightly towards the inland side of the course and as a result of this you play to raised greens at the first and fifth where flighting the ball well is paramount, especially if the wind is blowing straight in off the sea, even more so if it is across.
You also get to play thrilling drives across sloping fairways, which drape over the rumpled duneland elegantly, from elevated tees at the third and sixth; both of which dog-leg slightly to the right as does the reachable par five fourth.
The sixth is also a par five and was my favourite hole on the entire course and perhaps in the whole of Northumberland.
How Golf World Magazine missed this course from their top 200 rankings, let alone the top 100, is a mystery to me. This is as good as many of the top links in East Lothian and knocks socks of many of its southern counterparts. And perhaps that is the reason; its relative isolation, in no man’s land, just off the A1 in Northumberland on England’s East Coast.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Hi Ed, I see Golf World in their June 2017 issue have rectified this omission by placing Berwick 66th in England and 1st in Northumberland. They, like you, commented "a very strong links that ought to be more lauded"
A real gem of a course and it's clear to see why the R&A are bringing Open qualifying back to Goswick next year. There's an unpretentious feel to the course and the clubhouse. As others have rightly said it would be much more highly rated if it was in East Lothian or Lancashire. I visited a week ago as part of a small group and from the friendly (and not pompous) welcome in the pro shop through to the bar afterwards it was a joy to visit Goswick. It seems that it really was designed by Braid (unlike some that claim this) and it is a great testament to his skills that it's still such very tough challenge in the modern day. Set in a classic dunes topography the layout is two loops of nine starting with a tough par 4 of 392 yards from the medal tees featuring OB running the full length of the right side of the hole, dog-legged to a steeply sloping greens. The course comes alive immediately with no easy holes to ease one into the round. The holes run at differing angles to the prevailing westerly wind and as such nothing can be taken for granted. Some fairways are very tight off the tee; 8th comes to mind whilst the back nine runs easterly until the 13th from when it's pretty much back to the clubhouse in a straight line. There is a sense of great space at Goswick without 'interference' from other groups of players on nearby holes. The greens were in perfect, fast running condition when I played but are fiendishly small making for the need to be accurate with the long and mid-irons.
A great course which is possibly overlooked due only to it's location in Northumberland, a county not known for proper links-golf.
A final word: make sure you pick up the course guide from the pro shop. It's a proper pro tour style one with no fancy colours and pictures. It's easier to understand than may first appear but it's invaluable with yardages to run-outs being an unusual feature. A sign that Goswick is a course for top-quality golf.
I love everything about this course. I knew it was going to be good but I was elated when I rolled up and saw the landscape. The course weaves in and around the dunes in a very natural manner. Every fairway has its fair share of protections either via quite long rough, well placed bunkers, slopes and dog legs.
It is an honest course that is very unpretentious. No gimmicks just a gritty course that bites quickly if you stray. In the past I have been pleasantly surprised by a number of courses that were considerably better than I thought they were going to be(eg Panure, Monifieth, Skegness) and Goswick joins the list.
The first nine flows in all directions but finishes back at the club house whilst the inward nine is an out and back stretch and probably hold the best holes, especially around the turn of 12/13/14.
I had the course to myself and at 30 quid twilight is fantastic value. After getting around Dunbar yesterday in 36 pts I had hopes today but after scoring 11 pts on the outward nine I needed a strong start at 10 but wiped 10/11/12 as I got a case of the blocks. I regathered with a few pars and bogies to string a few points together and finished birdie, birdie to make me a very satisfied customer, despite scoring low 20s. Great finishing hole, short and a number of options.
This course has authentic charm in spades. Warren from Aust
Over the years I have played Goswick many many times but after a break of a year or two I played here early Dec 2016 with my son. I was struck by how much the course has improved in the interim. The course was bone dry and the greens immaculate. The continued refurbishment of bunkers (the riveting is a work of art) ensures these are kept in prime condition. Suffice to say I joined as a country member in January and feel pretty smug being a member at a top class course for a little over £300. The biggest compliment I can pay is, a round here is always a good day spent!!
This is a cracking course which, if it were nestled in amongst others in East Lothian or Lancashire, would be rated far higher I think. It is undoubtedly worthy of being in the English Top 100.
It's a course full of variety (and no little beauty), finishing with a cracking risk/reward short par 4, where many great rounds have been scuppered by greedy drivers no doubt, and was in superb condition. Friendly club and great value too.