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.
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
After a quirky start doglegging right over a small copse of trees to a green perched in the dunes - followed by a blind shot at the par three second - the round settles into a lovely stretch of par fours and fives between holes 3 and 8. The best of these six is the majestic par five 6th “Cocklaw,” played to a pneumatically raised green on the northernmost point of the property. The second nine from the clubhouse begins with probably the weakest hole so far but then the dipping, twisting terrain over the next couple of holes make up for that blip. I had issues with the par threes at 13 and 15, unfortunately. Maybe the bleak backdrop of marshy/boggy ground behind the hole at the former put me off it, I don’t know. The drop in elevation at the latter (a mini version of the 7th at Ballyliffin’s Glashedy, which I love) didn’t seem to work properly, somehow. Holes 16 and 17 were very tough, played into the wind again and they preceded a fine finishing hole, a short par four (squeezed in between the 1st and 17th) played as a par three for some reason at this time of year. Greens were very good throughout, even though they’d been hollow tined so they must be really fantastic to putt on in the summer.
The green fees are astonishingly good value when you consider they even offer twilight late afternoon fees in the summer (more clubs should take note of this, actually) but I’m afraid that my rating is a very solid 4 balls. When you bear in mind that as of today there are only five other 6-ball rated courses within the 152 ranked courses listed for England (Birkdale, Sunningdale (Old), Delamere Forest, Beau Desert and Sherwood Forest) on this website, the reviewers here have been blowing the trumpet for Goswick just a wee bit too loudly in my opinion! It’s not a great course but a good course that offers outstanding value for the green fee charged. Not UK Top50 but could be English Top 50 which would be no small measure of achievement for such a homely, down-to-earth club. Jim McCann
You are definitely cracking jokes to suggest The Glen and Elie are better than Goswick. Glen 7/10, Elie 7, Gullane 2 8, Dunbar 8.4, Goswick 8.5.
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