Paul Corney takes a trip north and discovers one of the finest courses in Northern England
Great Britain and Ireland are blessed with coastlines which have been shaped by the sea over the centuries to leave stunning locations for golf courses.
One of the best coastline stretches can be found a few miles south of Berwick-upon -Tweed, the home of Goswick Links Golf Club.
Starting at Cocklawburn Beach and running south past Cheswick to Goswick and on towards Lindisfarne, this championship links course is an experience you will never forget.
The views from the course are stunning with the Cheviots, Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle all in sight while the Low Lammermuir hills dominate the skyline.
Add to this the wonderful Northumberland coastline with its varied wildlife and the result is a perfect setting for a golf course. Typical of many links designs, the course has two nine-hole loops, one to the north of the clubhouse and the other to the south.
It is fairly easy walking, but for those not wanting to partake in a little exercise, there are buggies available for hire.
The club professional, Paul Terras has been at Goswick since 1991, offering a first-class service both in the well-stocked golf shop and on the more than adequate practice range adjacent to the course.
The first is a difficult opening hole – a par four at nearly 400 yards. The key here is the tee shot, so take my advice and hit a few balls on the range to get warmed up. Aim the drive over the fairway bunker on the right and you should find the centre of the fairway.
The hole then dog-legs right around a copse of trees and rises to an elevated green, where at least one extra club is needed to find the putting surface.
The par three second is all about distance control. Select the right club and you should be putting for birdie however, make a wrong decision and trouble awaits. The green slopes back to front and has a small bunker back left waiting to catch any pulled tee shots.
At 414 yards, the third is the first of five strong par fours; they are all more than 400 yards. The drive is played from an elevated tee to a fairway which dog-legs right. Aim slightly left of the bunker on the right, 236 yards from the tee and you will be left with a long approach to a green defended by a bunker front right. Again, consider taking an extra club to eliminate the trouble short of the green.
The fourth hole is a par five measuring 545 yards and another dog-leg right. There is a nest of three bunkers on the right to be wary of – you will need a carry of at least 200 yards to clear them. Play to the left side of the fairway and a well struck second shot should leave a shortish approach to a tricky narrow green, sloping steeply back to front. There are two bunkers front right and a deep bunker front left defending this green, so having a go in two may well end in disaster.
The fifth is another tough par four and at 418 yards uphill, plays longer than its yardage. With the fairway sloping left to right, aim up the left side and let the ball gather back to the centre. It’s a tough second shot, but if you take enough club and avoid the two deep bunkers at the front, the approach should find the green.
With out of bounds along the right, a copse of trees also on the right and a number of green side bunkers, the par three final hole on the front nine is no easy touch. I have played Goswick a number of times and never managed to card a three. Because it’s flat, the distance is difficult to gauge, so select a club and trust your judgement.
The back nine starts with a 421-yard par four. There is trouble on the right, aim left centre of the fairway to find the best position. Take care with the bunker front right of the green, it is about 60 yards short of the putting surface and can easily deceive you into
Next is the longest hole on the course, and at 559 yards from the championship tees can be a real tester. There are some serious humps and hollows in the fairway, out of bounds on the right and a lateral water hazard on the left. If that’s not enough, there is a very well placed fairway bunker 65 yards short of a green that slopes right to left.
Some testing holes follow, including the signature 14th (see factfile), before a chance for glory at the last – a 269-yard par four.
If you decide to go for it, be aware as out of bounds is on the right, while there’s a nasty cross bunker 30 yards short of the green and a further five bunkers surrounding a putting surface which slopes back to front and left to right.
You could always lay up to leave a short chip and a very good chance of finishing with a birdie.