At Worlds Best Golf Destinations we like to bring you cracking golf courses that are off the beaten track and that you may not have heard of before, especially if you live outside of the UK. Goswick is one of those courses. Only if you are a links golf fan and live in the UK will you know where it is and could tell your mates about it. We at WBGD are about to reveal one of those hidden gems that golfers love.
Goswick’s History. Where is it?
Goswick was founded in 1889 and in 1890, the first 9 holes were open for play. It was so popular that the courses extended to 18 holes by 1894. Many notable names have had a hand in making Goswick what it is today. Tom Dunn, Willie Park Jnr, James Braid, Frank Pennink and by the end of 2023, Tom Mackenzie of Mackenzie & Ebert. More on Mackenzie & Eberts plans later in this article.
Goswick is located on the Northumberland coastline, in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty and is just 12 miles from the Scottish border in the very north east of England. It’s 90 minutes by car from Edinburgh and 80 minutes north of Newcastle. Out of the way for most golfers? Yes, but it’s well worth the trip to get there.
We Play the The Championship Course
This is going to be challenging!
Unusually, Goswick has SIX sets of tees to play from. They range from 5556 yards right up to 6790 yards. We chose to play from the white tees at 6631 yards with a par of 72 and a slope rating of 73/129. We know we keep repeating ourselves but choose the tees to suit your game. No one wants to be hitting woods into par 4’s all the time! Fortunately for us, the sun was shining although it was breezy.
A hard start, a dogleg right with a raised green
The opening hole was a tricky start for us. It’s a par 4 of 392 yards. Unsure how far it was to the end of the dogleg, we hit an easy driver which ran through the fairway into the rough. This left us which an uphill second shot to a raised green with a freshening breeze blowing into us out the right. We pulled a 5 iron to ensure we got up and we did, but missed the green left. We chipped down the slope to about 6 feet but missed the putt. A bogey to start.
If you look close you can just see the top of the pin on the par 3 2nd
At 162 yards, the second hole was playing downwind. There is plenty of green to the left of the mound but none where the pin was. We had the fear when our 8 iron was pushed just right of the flag but needn’t have worried as there was a bank there that kicked our ball back onto the putting surface. We misread our 25 footer on the sloping green but sank a 5 footer for par.
Relentless, Six Tough Holes in a Row to the Turn
The stretch of holes from the 3rd to the 9th tee are long and tough. The 3rd hole was playing 412 yards and thankfully, the wind was helping out the left. Our driver off the tee found the fairway and we reached the green with a 7 iron and made a straightforward par.
The small green at the par 5 4th
The 5th hole is 520 yards. Again, the wind was helping out the left. A drive and a 3 wood left us in the bunker in the foreground, 20 yards short of the green. Our bunker shot came up short of the putting surface. Out came the putter though and we got up and down to secure a par.
Bogey, Birdie, Bogey
Don’t go left on the 5th
The 5th hole is stoke index 1 on the card and we found out why. Not only was it back into the wind, if you miss the fairway left like we did, you will need plenty of luck to catch a lie good enough to reach the green. We hit driver, then 5 iron which squirted out and finished short of the bunker up the right. Our chip wasn’t hard enough and caught the slope at the front and rolled back off the green. We didn’t sink the putt so another bogey.
Do we go for the green on the par 5? Or not?
The 6th hole is 528 yards with out of bounds all the way down the right. The wind was pushing any loose tee shot towards the boundary fence. We went with driver and aimed down the left and it finished about 10 feet from the out of bounds right. This left us with 246 yards to the green. The issue was that the green is up a slope so the carry was more like 265 yards. We decided to lay up short of the bunkers left with a 3 hybrid. It didn’t quite work out as we finished level and left of the second bunker on the left. It did leave us with a lob wedge and a good angle. Our shot ran past the flag and up a slope. We sank a downhill 20 footer for our first birdie!
The very straight 7th hole with its raised green
The 7th is the shortest of this difficult run of holes at 387 yards but it was straight into the wind. You have to avoid the bank on the right hand side. We hit a good drive and had 5 iron to the green. We hit a decent shot but it rose up in the wind and came up short. Our chip didn’t get up to the flag and we missed the putt. Another bogey.
The 8th hole is 422 yards and was also into the wind. The tee shot is all about avoiding the cross bunkers, or so we thought. We opted to go left of the bunkers which looked okay from the tee. Unfortunately, the rough was a lot thicker than we thought and we couldn’t find it. Back to the tee to hit another ball. This time we hit the fairway and had a 6 iron to the green. Our shot came up on the front fringe and two putts later, walked off with a double bogey.
The last hole on the front nine is a 198 yard par 3. In our opinion, it’s the weakest hole so far. We hit a 3 hybrid into the wind and managed to keep it low and running towards the green. A chip and putt par. We had reached the turn in 40, 4 over par.
At this point we should thank the three members who let us play through at the tenth tee. It gave us a clear run at the back nine. It doesn’t always happen to us so it is much appreciated when it does. Thank you.
No Relief from the Strengthening Wind
Our next four holes were all playing into the wind. The 10th is 420 yards but it took a driver then a 3 wood to reach the green. We two putted for a welcome par. The 11th is a 513 yard par 5. It was a 3 shot hole for us. Driver, 3 wood then a punched 9 iron to the green and an easy par.
Is the 12th green really that small?
When we teed off at the 12th, we got a bit lucky. The fairway sits at an angle to the tee and we flushed a driver up the fairway. We didn’t think too much about the drive but we were lucky not to run through the fairway into a gully. Visually, the green looks small as you can only see the centre of it and it’s deceiving as we still had 120 yards to go. We knocked down an 8 iron right of the flag and another two putt followed.
The far end of the course, the 13th with the North Sea in the background
We reached the 13th hole and it looked as if it might be our last hole into the wind. At 176 yards, you need to avoid the five bunkers around the green. We went with a 5 iron from the elevated tee and hit it well. It just reached the front of the green, 15 yards short of the pin. Our two putt streak continued, another par.
Downwind at Last
The hidden 14th green
After playing seven holes straight into the wind, we finally turned for home on the dogleg 14th. It plays left to right and is 394 yards long. The wind ought to have suited our fade but we pulled our drive slightly. This left us 160 yards to a green we couldn’t see. We went with 8 iron and finished just behind the flag on the back edge of the green. Our birdie putt lipped out. Another par!
The last hole into the wind, the par 3 15th
Just when we thought it was downwind in the run for home, we walked up to what might be the highest tee on the course. At 151 yards, the hole plays dramatically downhill and was back into the wind. We were delighted when our low 6 iron carried the middle bunker onto the putting surface. Our first putt didn’t threaten the hole but we made par.
The 16th was playing 416 yards and with the helping breeze we reached the green with driver then 9 iron. Our lag putt from 30 feet ended up getting to the hole and at last our two putt run ended. A birdie 3.
Just the TEN bunkers on 17
The 17th hole, a par 5 of 490 yards, should be birdieable, especially with a helping breeze. That is, if you can avoid the six bunkers in the landing area. Unfortunately, our drive found the one on the right. We did really well to hit it over 100 yards down the fairway with a wedge out of the bunker. This left us 120 yards to the green. Our gap wedge didn’t get near to the flag and we made par.
The fortress 18th green. Just the NINE bunkers to protect it
The last hole falls into the risk/reward category. It’s 268 yards from an elevated tee and in a fun game with your mates, you would take it on. As we waited on the game in front finishing the hole, we decided to play it sensibly. Boring, I know! We hit 3 hybrid short of the bunkers then pitched it up to 10 feet. No birdie followed and we were round in 75, 3 over par.
It was our first visit to Goswick and we absolutely loved it. The course was as tough as we expected it to be, especially in the wind. But hey, isn’t that what you expect from links golf? The course was in superb condition and the greens were excellent. The routing is very good although it gets a bit tight around the 9th green where you have the first tee, the tenth tee, the putting green all together in a small area.
The Club have recognised this and plans are in place to change this. The weak 9th hole is going and the 8th hole will be altered with the green moving to the right, instead of left. It will then become the 9th with a new par 3 being constructed between the current 6th green and 7th tee. The tee at the first will be moved left so the hole will no longer be a dogleg and a new short game area will be installed close to the existing 9th green. Big plans (that are currently subject to Northumberland Council approval) but it will make such a difference to an already great track. We hope to go back to Goswick once all the work is completed.
Thank you to Dan Miller, Rory Davidson and General Manager Keith Martin for hosting us and we wish you every success with the course changes.
At a Glance:
- 90 minutes south of Edinburgh, 80 minutes north of Newcastle
- 18 hole championship links
- Large practice areas and putting green
- Small but well stocked pro shop
- Friendly clubhouse staff
- Friendly members too
Where to Stay
The stunning Georgian Hotel
We stayed at Marshall Meadows Manor House just north of Berwick upon Tweed and right off the A1. The Manor House sits in 12 acres of countryside and gardens and is about 15 minutes drive from Goswick. The interior of the hotel is stunning and all the rooms are large and beautifully decorated. There are 27 bedrooms and all are different. The hotel also has five luxury lodges with hot tubs on each lodges deck.
Our individually styled bedroom
We arrived at the hotel after a 3 hour drive from home. After checking in and being shown to our room, we decided to eat early rather than going for dinner later that evening. It was the right decision. We had the fish and chips and the steak burger, both were excellent and just what we needed, especially as it was washed down with a Guinness and a gin and tonic.
Even though the hotel is just off the A1, it sits in a quiet secluded area in lovely countryside. After a great night’s sleep in a very comfortable bed, we awoke to lovely morning sunshine and the birds chirping away. At breakfast we went with a healthy option, avocado, poached eggs on toast, passing on the Northumberland breakfast on this occasion. To be fair, we also had a couple of pastries with our coffee, so not that healthy then…There is not enough room in this article to show you the photos of the hotel so here is a short video of just some of the facilities.
Marshall Meadows Manor House
Thank you to James Little, the Hotel’s General Manager for hosting us. Thanks also to the staff at the hotel, they were very friendly and nothing we asked for was too much of an inconvenience.
We highly recommend the Marshal Meadow Manor House, the rooms, ambience, food and staff were superb. We can’t wait to return!!
Jim Callaghan has been a Category One Golfer for over 45 years. Recently retired from Club Management, he now walks the fairways of some of the best golf courses in the UK, Ireland and Europe and writes about the experience of playing and staying at them for worldsbestgolfdestinations.com
Now in his 60’s, he is still carrying his bag, although maybe not for much longer!
If you would like Jim to write about your venue, email him at [email protected] or call him on 0044 (0) 78522 88732