Bamburgh Castle Golf Club Review
Sat atop of the cliffs just outside the village of Bamburgh itself, Bamburgh Castle Golf Club dates back to 1904 when castle owner Lord Armstrong decided that a golf course would increase tourism in the area that was dominated by the castle itself which actually dates back to the year 547. The castle is the centrepiece of the town and features in some stunning scenery throughout the golf course too.
After a couple of failed attempts, Lord Armstrong had the local professional from Alnmouth, George Rochester design a golf course that would be the 'missing link' to make Bamburgh an ideal holiday location and it was on August 18th 1904 that Lord Armstrong's daughter hit the opening tee shot.
Some changes were made in 1907 after two more fields were leased in order to lengthen the course, which remains pretty much the same as it was today.
Whilst the course plays and is maintained like a links course, technically known as a clifftop course, Bamburgh Golf Club offers its members and visitors stunning panoramic views of either the coast or castle on pretty much every hole.
A par 68, 5,600 yards from the white tees tells you a bit about what to expect too - and that is a quirky, fun, traditional test.
The small single lane dead end road that leads you down to the understated clubhouse, right on the edge of the cliff itself, pretty much sets you up for a great experience as the rugged coastline is very visible the closer you get to the entrance.
A traditional feel to the premises, which is a nice, small, compact rounded building with three or four different reception style rooms surrounding the bar, which doubles up as the pro shop and a row of binoculars is on offer to enjoy some of the coastal views.
The practice facilities are minimal, a couple of nets, a field where you can hit your own balls and a small chipping green - the putting green that runs around the front of the building is also a nice touch. Whilst there isn't a massive technology filled driving range and extensive facilities, it just feel right because of the type of venue it is.
My only advice - don't sit in the room overlooking the first hole for too long...
Front 9 Overview
A 180 yard par 3, teeing off right on the cliff edge, wind pumping from the sea meaning hitting out over a ravine is the only option with incredible views looking up the coastline - what more could you ask for with an opening tee shot?
You would also be forgiven for thinking it can't get much better, but it does - much better.
After back to back pars 3s you then get back to back par 5s - the first of which plays even further up the cliffs, the second shot will be blind as you continue up the hill to be greeted by another breathtaking view of the coast, castle behind and the estuary to the left. It's weird because I'm not ashamed to admit I made a really good birdie 4 on this hole - but I remember the views more than the golf - a theme that continued throughout.
As you play up the 5th hole, have a look left to the estuary, if you're as lucky as we were you'll also see the tide coming in covering the sand dunes as it does.
The signature hole is up at the 8th. A short par 3 from a raised tee box to a fairly small green that looks like it's been cut into the face of a cliff. Also a great photo opportunity, not that this course lacks them. The small single bunker isn't the place to be, but anything short will roll off the false front and down the bank. So much fun to play.
Back 9 Overview
The 12th drops away from the tee in spectacular fashion, playing down again to the green below fairway level but requires a couple of great shots.
After playing up a steep slope to a blind green on the 13th, the par 3 14th offers a different type of test.
The small narrow green sits in a ravine type bowl between two mounds, where the top of the tall flag is the only thing visible from the tee, making sure you hit enough club up and over will be key, and the anticipation of walking up the bank to the green to find out where your shot has finished will be the only thing going through your mind.
The tee box on the 15th is about the highest point on the course - and again, I can't stress enough how spectacular the views are, 360 degrees of joy as you start heading for home.
I enjoyed the 16th, a tricky tee shot for position over another ravine is key leaving you a short to mid iron into a green where the fairway is cut in a valley type way so it funnels down towards the infinity like green with stunning views of the castle in the distance - a very smart use of the landscape.
The 17th is a quality risk and reward par 4 that plays down a steep drop from the tee, definitely playing less than the 257 yards on the card, some bigger hitter will really fancy this green, and a driver may not be needed to reach - just be mindful of the bunkers lurking.
The 18th sweeps back down towards the clubhouse and directly towards the North Sea where a sizeable green is waiting to be found and the last gasp of sea air taking in before you head for your post-round drink to talk over the outstanding experience Bamburgh has to offer.
I'd say you don't go to Bamburgh Castle for a course that has perfectly manicured tee boxes, fairways and bunkers, etc. The charm is how raw and rugged it is, as it has been since its was opened all those years ago.
However, I have played a LOT of links and the odd clifftop course during my travels and I'm struggling to think of a course that offers up the consistent views and experience that Bamburgh does. There is a reason why it has achieved Golfshake Highly Recommended status for the last five years in a row and is also on the 2023 Must Play List.
Due to the severely undulating land, it's a tough walk. This isn't a negative, it's a warning for those who may struggle to walk 18 holes. But it will be open all year round and drains very well, and as you'd expect on those cold windy days being hit by a gust coming off the North Sea, it could be very challenging. But still fun.
There are a fair few blind shot here, either from the tee, onto greens, or even both and it's definitely a course you'd fancy playing better on the second time round - because I think you will want to have another go if you play here once.
We had a drink and shared some stories after, for the group I was with, it was a fitting way to end a great three day trip to the North East and we can't wait to go back.
What an experience. I think I took around 100 photos while going around the course at Bamburgh Castle - and it still won't do it any justice.
From the minute you arrive to the minute you leave, Bamburgh Castle is an experience like no other and one that doesn't just come Highly Recommended by me, but by lots of Golfshake users too!
Overall Rating - 9
Course (Conditions) - 8
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 10
Course (Green Condition) - 8
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 8
Club Facilities & Clubhouse - 7
Practice Facilities - 7
Friendliness/Hospitality - 9
Pace of Play - 9
Value For Money - 10
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|Bamburgh Castle Golf Club
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