Bamburgh Castle – A coastal classic

Bamburgh Castle Golf Club, 40 The Wynding, Bamburgh, NE69 7DE
Total distance
White tees: 5,604 yards (par 68)
Yellow tees: 5,271 yards (par 68)
Red tees: 5,106 yards (par 70)
- Clubhouse with excellent catering
- Practice ground with nets, short game area, and putting green
- Club merchandise on sale in the clubhouse
- Buggy and trolley hire

Dean Bailey visits Bamburgh Castle Golf Club and finds a links course with plenty of scoring opportunities

Each of Northumberland’s links courses is a stunning example of golf by the sea. These rugged links have been shaped by centuries of waves and wind, and have been the battlegrounds of ancient kingdoms. Today, the battles fought here are far less bloody as golfers take on the elements and par seeking rich rewards of their own.

At Bamburgh Castle Golf Club – which sits in the shadow of Bamburgh Castle with views north to Lindisfarne, west to the Cheviot Hills and east to the sea – the golf course has been shaped and refined since 1904 to provide one of the county’s most rewarding days out. The layout is defined by its half-par holes – short par fours which offer plentiful birdie opportunities and long par threes which offer up more bogeys than birdies, even when using modern equipment.

A relatively short course at just 5,604 yards, Bamburgh is defended by its par of 68 – six par threes and just two par fives ensuring the course is no pushover.

An opening par three of 179 yards introduces the primary defences – the sand dunes, beach and North Sea lying to the right side of the green while gorse bushes lurk on the left side in anticipation of a shot played away from the course’s boundary. Two deep bunkers with steep faces guard the entrance to the putting surface.

The wind is predominantly against the players on the opening holes, making the second, a 210-yar par three, one of the most challenging on the course and a perfect introduction to the half-par nature of so many holes here.

One of Bamburgh’s many quirks, the opening pair of par threes is followed by a pair of par fives. The first measures 531 yards from the back tee and features an uphill drive before the second shot is played blind to a generous fairway bordered by thick rough and gorse to the left and the dunes and sea to the right. Two bunkers guard the right side of a wide green. At the fourth you will find spectacular views of Cheviot and Budle Bay as well as a good chance to make birdie with no bunkers in play – stay left to hold the sloping fairway and left again to avoid the gully on the right side of a green set in one of the most spectacular positions of any on our coastline.

A further birdie opportunity awaits at the short, uphill fifth should you navigate between or play over the two fairway bunkers 120 and 80 yards from the green. A birdie at five will come in handy as you play the steeply uphill, 224-yard par three sixth hole. This devilishly tricky par three is made tougher still by its three bunkers – two to the left and one larger trap to the right.

At the 303-yard seventh, play left to avoid the trouble and leave the best angle to approach the green, which features a single deep bunker on its front right corner. The spectacular par three signature hole follows.

The eighth at Bamburgh is one of Northumberland’s most photographed golf holes. Played from an elevated tee to a raised green guarded by exposed rocks to the right side and a tiny, fiendish bunker on the front left corner, there is simply no good place to miss this green. Take in the views of Budle Bay and Lindisfarne, then steel yourself for one of the most challenging approaches of the day.

Having traversed the route up hill, the ninth tee offers great views of the challenge ahead – be sure to make note of the pin position on number 10 while you’re here. This 360-yard par four requires an accurate tee shot with heavy rough to the left, and two fairway bunkers and out of bounds to the right. Laying back from the tee can we wise here as the green is generous and has no bunkers.

The par three-and-a-half 10th is played blind to an enormous green beyond a single bunker on the left side. This green is difficult to find with its many run-off areas and even more difficult to escape from with a two-putt.

If you know it well, the par four 11th is a simple enough dogleg left par four of 343 yards, but it can be tricky to choose a line from the tee. The cautious play is out to the right, though this lengthens the approach to a thin slither of green measuring 38 yards from front to back.

Another tricky tee shot follows at the long, downhill par four 12th hole. Play to the right half of the fairway to make the most of the slope and avoid having to play over the large bunker on the front left of the green. Be wary of the thick rough long and left here.

The journey back towards the clubhouse begins with another par four of more than 400 yards. Played uphill, a good tee shot is vital as the fairway is pinched by rough and rocks on the left, and gorse on the right some 250 yards from the back tee. From here, a blind approach up the hill must be played through a wide entrance to the green – anything left or right risks being snatched up by two long and narrow bunkers.

The 168-yard par three 14th is played on top of the hill at the centre of the course, with an elevated tee shot across a valley to the green, which is wide but narrow at its centre.

The closing stretch of four par fours may not sound much on paper, but they present a fascinating mix of fun birdie opportunities and are fraught with danger. The downhill 15th plays much shorter than its 418 yards thanks to a steeply downhill tee shot – the views of the bay and castle from this tee are some of the best. A valley cuts across the fairway some 90 yards from the green, which is flanked by a pair of bunkers.

A blind tee shot follows at the uphill 16th. The bravest can drive down the funnel-shaped fairway to find the long narrow green, though many have lost balls to the gorse on both sides here. The steeply downhill 17th is reachable for almost all at 257 yards – though the two fairway bunkers on the left side, which are hidden by the hillside, and gorse beyond the green have wreaked havoc with many players’ plans for a flying finish.

At 319 yards, the 18th can be another great birdie opportunity – though beware the out of bounds which looms incredibly close to the right side of the fairway. The green is ringed by three bunkers and sits beside the clubhouse at this spectacular downhill closing hole played in the shadow of Bamburgh Castle with the North Sea stretching to the horizon.


  • Caddy’s tip

    The golf course plays firm and fast throughout the year and controlling the ball when pitching and chipping is very important if you wish to unlock the scoring opportunities on the shorter holes

  • Our verdict

    A wonderful combination of challenge and fun, a regular pilgrimage to Bamburgh is highly recommended