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 F.W. Hawtree (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.
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.
Super links course in good condition with a great variety of holes and a great risk/reward par 4 18th (I risked, got out of the back bunker and 2 stabbed for a par !!).
REALLY enjoyed the visit which was a warm up for the week at Carnoustie after - and it worked as played OK all week.
Friendly bar - all round nice course and nice Club
The par five 6th will also give you plenty to think about. Out of bounds is on the right where there is a line of dunes. Closer to the green are fairway bunkers on the left side. There is a very big hollow in front of the green which is set in the side of a hill.
This is not a course you will enjoy if you are prone to slice. Very thick rough again features on the right on the par four 10th. The par five 11th can be diabolical if you don’t hit straight. Out of bounds runs along the right and there is a wet marshy area all down the left side.
Thirteen is the pick of four par threes. Although the tee is elevated, you are hitting uphill to a green with three bunkers in front and one either side. Fifteen is another good par three, hitting from high up down to a green with water and marshland at the rear.
This review is an edited extract from Another Journey through the Links, which has been reproduced with David Worley’s kind permission. The author has exclusively rated for us every English course featured in his book. Another Journey through the Links is available for Australian buyers via www.golfbooks.com.au and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.
I returned to Goswick sixteen months after first playing here in the winter to see if my somewhat miserly rating of four balls was really justified. I know this visit was made when it was still early season but the course was playing to its full length and in very decent condition.
The holes from 3 to 8 are all pretty challenging, especially the 4th, where I think the narrow green is way too tight, even though I did scramble a par of 5 on it. The long par three 13th was a far better hole than I’d remembered the first time, and it comes in the middle of a delightful trio of strong holes at the most southerly part of the course.
Unfortunately, the punchbowl green of the short 15th is maybe too generous, funnelling half decent tee shots to wherever the pin is placed, and this allowed all four in our group to register a relatively straightforward 3 on the scorecard.
I must say that bunkering throughout the course was exceptional (with obvious signs that a substantial revetting program had been carried out over the winter) and fine examples of these sand traps were found fronting the green of the risk/reward 18th hole.
A couple of maps with old course routings hang inside the clubhouse and they look very interesting indeed – I just wonder if it would profit a modern day committee to review the existing layout to see if the current design could be enhanced by the possible reintroduction of some of the old holes?
Then again, maybe modern day health and safety issues would prevent this happening as there might be too many blind shots brought into play.
I’m awarding 5 balls to average my score over two rounds at 4.5 because that’s the proper score I feel should be given to this course. As I stated before, Berwick-upon-Tweed offers excellent value for the green fee and it truly deserves wide recognition for this.