DRAMATIC views, sandy beaches and iconic castles – this is the essence of Northumberland’s coast.
There are few sights to compare with the wide expanse of Bamburgh Castle and beach at dusk.
Bamburgh is one of the county’s best-known stretches of sand, along with nearby Dunstanburgh, but you’ll find other great beaches at places such as Beadnell, Alnmouth and Embleton.
These beaches are often a pebble’s throw from close-knit but friendly towns and villages, where you can get out of the cold sea breeze and relax with friends over a drink in one of many seaside pubs.
And with the winter months upon us, temperatures dropping and heavy rain, it’s that time of year when golfers head for the coast for a round of golf on our fast-draining seaside courses.
Unlike the Ayrshire coastal line in Scotland, where courses appear to merge into one another, the North East does offer a number of very good, well-spaced-out clubs, steeped in history and all within an hour’s drive from the centre of Newcastle.
This is, quite simply, one of the finest regions in England to enjoy your golf. And as an added bonus, it won’t cost you a fortune for a few rounds.
In this issue, we take a short journey north to south along the Northumberland coast to briefly summarise the nine locations where golfers return year in, year out, to sample the delightful courses overlooking the sandy beaches and rugged coastline.
Located adjacent to the beautiful and historic old seaside town of Berwick, Magdalene Fields is a marvellous 18-hole course which was redeveloped to its present size and design in 1974.
It opens with two fairly deceptive par fours which do not pose too many challenges, and which are considerably straightforward. However, do not be fooled by this seemingly easy opening as a par five third sets the tone for an increasingly intense golfing experience, right up until the point that you have to play over a beach on the hole appropriately named Good Luck. The Bell Tower, the 11th hole, is arguably the best par four on this pleasant little course.
A James Braid masterpiece, widely acknowledged as a truly outstanding links course which is playable all year round.
A regional qualifier for the Open Championship, this 6,803-yard, par 73 course is a real test of golfing skill and a must-play for the discerning golfer.
Situated amid the most stunning Northumbrian coastal scenery, it is just off the A1 south of Berwick and 60 miles from both Edinburgh and Newcastle.
The club boast full facilities, including two practice areas, a fully-stocked pro shop and a restaurant.
Just south of Seahouses Village on the B1340, the Seahouses golf club offers a traditional, typical flat links course, with a standard scratch of 67, which is rarely bettered.
A fine test for golfers of all standards, Seahouses is an exceptionally popular course and offers some excellent seaside views.
Founded in 1913 as a nine-hole course, it was upgraded to 18 holes in 1976, and has since hosted many Northumberland County competitions.
It is also home to two of the most prestigious par threes in the North of England, which have challenged, baffled, frustrated and delighted golfers of all handicaps over the years.
Bamburgh golf club’s superb coastal location makes it a hit with golfers looking to sample a true links-style experience with fine views of the sea. Indeed, those in search of these things will not be disappointed by this course as it has some marvellous scenic views over Farne Island, Holy Island, Bamburgh Castle and the Cheviot Hills.
There is a vast selection of natural hazards here also, with heather and whin bushes bordering the fairways and providing an ominous threat to anything other than an accurate shot. It is worth noting that the greens are fast and true, so beware when putting as it is easy to be caught out. It is also easy on the legs, measuring 5,621 yards in total.
Located on Embleton links since 1900, Dunstanburgh Castle golf club is a beautiful course set in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and curving gently around the bay’s beautiful golden sands.
The north end of the course lies adjacent to Newton Pool, a freshwater nature reserve, while the magnificent ruins of the castle stand upon imposing cliffs at the southernmost end, providing a majestic backdrop to the 13th green.
Renovated in 1922 by marvellous golf course architect James Braid, the course offers 18 challenging holes to test golfers of all levels of ability, with many of the holes set among undulating dunes in typical links style.
A demanding but picturesque seaside course, the coastal layout of Alnmouth Village club provides an ideal setting for a round of golf. With marvellous views across the seaside and a brisk fresh wind blowing inland from it, the location is like something from a postcard, and fortunately, the course is more than worthy of its surroundings.
There are plenty of challenges to be had here, from the undulating fairways which complicate otherwise straightforward club use from the tee, to the tricky, hard-to-read greens that threaten to play havoc with your short-game.
And although it is only a nine-hole course, there are other tees so it can be played as an 18-hole.
The coastal course at Alnmouth features all the traditional aspects of a links course: many hazards, including long holes, tight fairways, water features and strategically positioned bunkers, as well as a near-constant sea-breeze which blows across the course ready to carry any stray shots.
It is exceptionally well-maintained and looked after by the dedicated greens keepers and golfers of all levels of ability and experience will find something here to challenge them. A par 70 over 18 holes and 6,420 yards, you will need to have good patience and stamina to work your way around it.
The seaside links course at Warkworth is a picturesque but challenging nine-hole course. For those looking for a full round of golf, there are 18 tees so a full round is possible, but be warned that this is not a course for the faint of heart.
Measuring only 5,876 yards, it has a par of 70 which is a good indication of the challenges that lie in wait, so concentration and accuracy are vital, as is not underestimating it.
There are many long par 4s that require skilful negotiation if you are to score highly and so choosing your clubs and shots carefully on these particular holes is essential. The club also benefits from a fine range of facilities and a good clubhouse.
If you are searching for a quality links course, you could do much worse than sample the delights at Newbiggin golf club, which offers one of the finest links courses in the Northumberland region. Played by the coast it provides a challenge for golfers who like to enjoy varied conditions for their round. The undulating fairways and sea breezes test all approach shots and so good knowledge of the clubs in your bag is essential to scoring well. The rolling greens are exceptionally fast and undulating also, making putting even more of a challenge than usual.
Magdalene Fields Golf Club Address: Magdalene Fields, Berwick, Northumberland, TD15 1NE. Location: Berwick one mile north of the town. Contact details: Tel: 01289 306130
Goswick Golf Club: Address: Goswick, Beal, Berwick, Northumberland, TD15 2RW. Location: Five miles south of Berwick, off A1. Contact details Tel: 01289 387256
Seahouses Golf Club: Address: Beadnell Road, Seahouses, Northumberland, NE68 7XT. Location: 14 miles north of Alnwick, nine miles east of A1 on B1340. Contact details Tel: 01665 720794
Bamburgh Castle Golf Club: Address: Bamburgh, Northumberland, NE69 7DE Location: Five miles east of A1, via B1341 or B1342. Contact details Tel: 01668 214321
Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club: Address: Embleton, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 3XQ. Location: Seven miles north east of Alnwick on B1339. Contact details Tel: 01665 576562
Alnmouth Golf Club: Address: Foxton Hall, Alnmouth, Northumberland, NE66 2BE. Location: Five miles south east of Alnwick. Contact details Tel: 01665 830231
Alnmouth Village Golf Club: Address: Marine Road, Alnmouth, Northumberland, NE66 2RZ. Location: Alnmouth. Contact details Tel: 01665 830370
Warkworth Golf Club: Address: The Links, Warkworth, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE65 0SW. Location: Nine miles south east of Alnwick (A1068). Contact details Tel: 01665 711596
Newbiggin-by-the-Sea Golf Club: Address: Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, NE64 6DW. Location: Newbiggin, nr Church Point. Contact details Tel: 01670 817344