Goswick Links Golf Club Review
I have often found that when you are driving down a small country road for a good few miles knowing that a golf course is at the bottom, you are normally greeted with something special - especially when the final part of the journey is to cross a railway line to gain access to the venue.
Goswick Links epitomises that. Located just 15 minutes from Berwick-upon-Tweed, this championship links course is moulded expertly with the natural sand dunes that separate the course from the North Sea and has most recently been a host venue of Regional Open Qualifying.
Golf dates back to 1890 on this three-time recipient of the Golfshake Highly Recommended Award, where it wasn't until 1894 that it was extended to an 18-hole course, with the clubhouse added soon after.
In 1930, James Braid revised 13 of the holes and by 1932 the layout was completed and pretty much still stands as it remains today. Following its most recent stint as a host venue for Regional Open Qualifying, the club has exciting plans going forward to carry out changes - to the front 9 in particular - to bring it more in line with the way the modern game is played - but still in keeping with its traditional charm.
A classic links layout that features riveted bunkering, gorse and heather, wispy rough and large undulating greens, means the members and visitors alike can enjoy the experience all year round.
The welcome at Goswick is exceptional. The ladies in the professional shop were super helpful - and even came out to watch us tee off after explaining a bit about the routing and challenge that lay ahead. Whilst the clubhouse and restaurant is modest in size, you get a really welcoming and warm feel as you sit looking out onto the course and the 10th tee in particular.
Lots of food to choose from whether it be pre or post round - in particular the 'Golfers Salad' which actually consists of Pie, Chip and Beans.
The practice facilities are excellent, including lots of room at the grass range and a large chipping green - with bunkers included - and a nice sized putting green to the right of the first tee, which gives you one last chance to ensure that your short game is fully prepared for the test that is ahead.
Front 9 Overview
'Well this is going to be fun' is probably a common thought as you prepare to tee off on the 1st.
A modest 392 yard par 4 that doglegs from left to right before an approach shot into a raised green that slopes from back to front. From the tee, the corner of the hole feels in range but a small selection of trees need to be negotiated, as well as the OB down the right hand side - and not to mention a blind bunker also lurking on the corner of the turn.
If you manage to play away from all the trouble, a lengthy second shot follows where anything short of the green may roll back 30 or 40 yards. It's a really strong but fun opening hole.
You quickly get another challenge at the 3rd hole. A long daunting par 4 playing around 430 yards with a large bunker looming around 250 yards on the right hand side. Lots of room left, but not too far as some tall thick grass is waiting, the green is raised slightly meaning the approach is slightly blind with some fairly punishing run off areas.
The par 5 6th hole is another superb test, with the OB fence running the full 530 yards down the right of the hole, the smart play is to aim out to the left off the tee - and with the shape of the fairway you will even get a nice kick forward. The second shot could be a real tempter - as the fairway drops down and back up just short of the green to a false front that is also protected by three nasty pot bunkers, meaning if you are thinking of going for it in two, anything short will be in trouble, whether it's from the bunkers or a very steep chip shot to get it back up to the green.
I love the way the 7th hole runs adjacent to the large dune that sits between the fairway and the railway line running just the other side. The trains run fairly frequently on this line and it's a great feature to the course.
Quick word on the 8th - a very well designed hole where I put a lot of thought into what to hit on the tee. The hole moves right to left slightly, with three bunkers on the corner, it's about 240 to the front and 270 to carry them - more often than not into the wind. Trying to cut the corner left is not an option, whilst you may not lose a ball it won’t be pretty, and bailing out right isn't the play either as the big gorse bush offers yet more defence.
I ended up hitting a three-iron off the tee playing short of all the trouble, but this left a much more challenging approach shot into another well protected green. A belter.
Back 9 Overview
The 11th is another outstanding par 5 - 560 yards to a fairway that had lumps and bumps everywhere, in fact your playing partner could be stood in the fairway the other side to you and be completely out of sight.
A long but small grassy mound stops you chasing anything on towards the green with a mixture of bunkers to also avoid. A road runs all the way down the right hand side which is OB, and the ditch running up the left offers a similar punishment. If you manage to get to the green unscathed then you've done extremely well and deserve the best score you can get.
Laying up is the only option on the shorter par 4 12th. A large dune renders the green blind from the fairway that also runs out around 250 yards. Just a quick run up the dune to check on the pin position will be required.
I really liked the way the 14th green was down in a slight dip with a big dune to the left, the approach shot is fairly blind but anything up the right hand side will feed down onto the green and you may well be pleasantly surprised when you get sight of your ball.
The 15th is an incredible par 3 played from an elevated tee box. Part of the green is blinded by a steep bank that drops down to the green, whilst the green towards the back drops off towards a ditch fairly steeply. Five different pot bunkers also sit between tee and green making club choice crucial to a hole that drops some 20/30 feet from the tee. Regardless of score, you'll have a lot of fun playing this hole.
As I found out, avoiding the bunkers running up the 17th fairway is a tough ask, then more along the fairway. In fact a total of 11 sandy pots of fun lay between tee and green on the great par 5 that drops from an elevated tee before heading up to the 18th tee box.
From the 18th, you'll enjoy the stunning views of the clubhouse, the odd train rattling past and the nine bunkers that circle around the front of the green that slopes from back to front.
Due to the raised tee it will play slightly less than the 268 yards on the card, meaning it really is a classic risk and reward if you felt you wanted to have a pop at the green in one. A great way to end this quality layout.
I love what Goswick has to offer, and I'm not surprised it's listed in the Golfshake Must Play Ranking for 2023.
The raw links ground has its authentic imperfections as it should have. The fairways are fairly forgiving in places but sometimes narrow down making it a challenge for the longer hitters. I'd imagine when the rough is up a bit and the wind picks up it's a lot tougher.
The greens are of a good size, meaning you may hit a few more than usual if playing well, but the bigger they are means longer putts and some are very undulating in places. If your short game isn't a strength then this course will become tougher - but no less enjoyable - and I'd say that golfers of any ability will not struggle to enjoy golf at Goswick and some of the views of the sea that sneak in from time to time. The only down side to Goswick was that I'd love to see more of the sea - but like somewhere like Birkdale, it doesn't stop it from ranking so highly.
The way some holes morph into the dunes and undulations is to be admired. The bunkering is as you would expect from any links course of this stature and even things like the walkways from tees to fairways are really well kept. The condition is a credit to the greenkeeping team.
To summarise the experience you'll get at Goswick is easy. It's a classic, from start to finish that will only get better throughout the next few years.
Overall Rating - 9
Course (Conditions) - 9
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 10
Course (Green Condition) - 9
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 9
Club Facilities & Clubhouse - 8
Practice Facilities - 9
Friendliness/Hospitality - 10
Pace of Play - 9
Value For Money - 9
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|Goswick Links Golf Club
from 58 reviews