Founded in 1890 as Berwick-upon-Tweed Golf Club on links land named Goswick (Goose Farm) by the Romans, Goswick Golf Club, as it's now known, 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 Goswick Golf Club hosted Open Championship Regional Qualifying for the first time since 2012. In 2019, for the second consecutive year, Open Championship hopefuls battled it out at Goswick.
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.
There is no gentle opening here as the first is a right – left dog leg with OB right (as I found out to my cost after my opening tee shot) ending at a pulpit green. The short 2nd follows, leading to a stretch of challenging holes the pick of which, being the superb 6th. I thought the 10th the weakest on the course but I found the 12th-14th delightful. I have to disagree with some of the reviewers as I didn’t enjoy the shortened 15th one bit and I would have loved the chance to play the 18th as a par 4 from its proper tee.
As you can see from the responses to Jim’s review some think his ranking of the course too low and he hasn’t taken into consideration the time of the year etc. I have to let you know that we discuss every aspect of every course we play from the first drive to the final putt and I think that Jim’s marking is spot on for Goswick. Goswick was well worth the 6 hour round trip it is beguiling and challenging gem and although not, in my opinion, a 6 baller it is a course that I would readily recommend to any golfer and I would be more than delighted to return here in the future. MPPJ
Dear ADR. Thank you for your feedback. Believe me, all feedback is appreciated good or bad. Firstly, we chose to undertake the 6 hour round trip to Berwick on the basis of the good reviews on the website. If you think that I have thrown the golfing rattle from the golfing pram because our game fell through at Carnoustie then you couldn't be more wrong. In fact, we had chances to play at Turnberry Kintyre and Kilmarnock Barassie, both Scottish top 50 courses, both a lot closer to home but we chose Goswick, and we were not disappointed. Secondly, I agree playing golf in December can be like the curates egg however In recent years I have played December golf at Gullane 2, Western Gailes and Machrihanish in worse conditions than I played at Goswick but I rated them higher and enjoyed them more than Goswick. I also played at Muirfield less than 7 days before I played at Goswick and my yet to be published review will be for 6 balls because, IN MY OPINION it is a 6 ball track and Goswick isn't however, I will concede that your experience and knowledge of Goswick is far greater than mine ever will be. Kindest Regards MPPJ