Paul Atkinson, from Newcastle Upon Tyne reviews Goswick Golf Club on the Northumberland Coast.
Valhalla, as my golfing pals call it, sits around two miles off the A1 just short of Berwick upon Tweed on the cusp of Scotland.
It’s one of the last golf stops in Northumberland, England’s spacious and beautiful border county.
An Open Championship Regional Qualifying course until 2013, Goswick is one of the best truest links in the North of England – let’s even say all England.
It’s extremely friendly. Our fourball visits regularly.
Earlier this year we arrived to find major redevelopment of the clubhouse and facilities which thankfully Goswick has been in dire need of. It would be polite to call the old clubhouse traditional and fair to say dilapidated.
The clubhouse is only a small distraction though as the main event, the first tee, sits just next to the Pro Shop and putting green and guarantees an audience.
The first is a ‘trickier than it looks’ dogleg par 4, with trees just teasing you to take them on (at your peril) with Out Of Bounds awaiting those foolish enough to take it on.
The green is suitably massive and slopes back to front and is subsequently lightning fast even in winter conditions – par is a great start.
Crater is a lonely place
The second is a short par 3 with a huge crater in front of the green that is in play on windy days, and also a lonely place should you misjudge your tee shot to another large green.
The third is a great par four that sweeps around a bunker set on the joint to a narrow, well protected green. Par is a good score.
The Fourth is a straight par 4 today, (par 5 in the summer from a completely different tee set way back creating a dogleg), that needs two good shots to reach the narrow green 400+ yards away with protection to the left and rough & bunkers on the left to keep you focused.
Hole 5 is the stroke one hole ‘Pennick’s way’ (after the designer Frank Pennick) and is a tough dogleg left that demands an accurate tee shot to the right half of the reverse camber fairway.
The approach is ‘up’ the green as tee shots to the left leave a very difficult shot over a hazard protecting the left side of a big green.
The sixth is a great hole. A classic par 5, with out of bounds along the right of the entire hole, it focused the mind on the left of the fairway and adjoining 5th fairway.
The second shot needs to be precise as there is big trouble at your landing area in the form of bogey bunkers. Go in and it’s bogey.
Tight undulations cause havoc on the approach to the well raised two tiered green – just keep 120 yards or so back as a full shot in will be just as rewarding.
The 7th has evolved over the years by removing the fence that ran alongside the fairway to the right and adding well placed bunkers that tease you into aiming right and thus hitting into trouble on the hill underneath the tracks.
Otherwise, dead straight approach to a great green with a large mound in front and cheeky pot bunkers to the left – ‘pro tip’, it’s one club more than it looks and always will be.
Winter tees turn the 8th into a driveable par 4 (NOT in the summer) to an undulating green that is never an easy two putt.
Superb hole in the summer rewarding a long drive either over or right of the large deep bunkers 150 yards from the green.
The 9th is a 190 yard par 3 with OOB and trees to the right at an angle to your tee shot which adds to the difficulty of the approach to the lengthy green surrounded by mounds and bunkers.
The green is close to the clubhouse giving you a chance to pop in for a sandwich, drink or extra balls.
1st and 10th tee sit side by side which is a nice set up.
The 10th is a long straight par 4 with bunkers to the left making a par a real challenge.
Hole 11 is a great par 5 with a narrow drive (OOB over the road to your right) and a ditch should you go to the left of the small valley that runs up the first 200 yards of the fairway (a good drive is rewarded with a lovely lie!).
The green lies 540 yards from the tee but is reachable with two good whacks to a sloping green that demands concentration.
At the 12th you need to drive to the left and a hit completely blind approach to the green over a crater, fun and testing all at once.
The 13th is a short par-three, about a 7-iron shot, and 14 is the signature hole and a truly great par 4.
From a slightly raised tee you need a tee shot of length and accuracy to avoid well placed bunkers and leave a mid-iron approach to an undulating green in the distance.
Sieges and Sainthood
The views from the tee take in a series of castles dotted along the Northumberland Coast and Holy Island, historic home of religious monastic orders and one of the region’s most visited tourist attractions.
The 15th is a wee par 3, which played 110 yards today but can be 150 yards long in summer.
The green rises from the front to a tier at the back and is a beautiful short hole with plenty of bite.
The 16th is a slight dog-leg right under winter conditions (straight in the summer) to a green that offers few visual aids to allow the green to be easily approached and often deceives.
The 17th plays a par 4 in winter but a really great par 5 in the summer.
A high tee that demands accuracy with the drive to avoid the family of bunkers that lay in wait across the fairway 200 yards from the green.
Hit the fairway and it’s possible to reach the sloping green that sits immediately over a small road with bunkers left and right (Goswick’s own Road Hole) and the same number too.
And finally, the 18th, which again is one short of its normal par in winter conditions but is actually a little stronger for it being a 200+ yard par 3, as opposed to a 260-yard par 4. Its defences are great bunkering and a sloping narrow green.
Goswick is a great Winter golf course.
It sits in its own micro climate on the Northumberland Coast and is usually clear of rain.
It’s playable most of the year round and superb in the summer, a test for all standards and an absolute pleasure to visit and play. Definitely a place to stop in at if you are heading up the road North to Scotland, the Home of Golf.
For more about Goswick Golf Club