Bamburgh Castle Golf Club in Northumberland has an enchanting, windswept golf course noted for its fabulous views
Bamburgh Castle Golf Club in Northumberland has a course of much charm, character, drama and beauty. Superb views abound in almost every direction.
The downside to this is that the course is exposed and when the wind blows – and rarely does it not, I am told – the layout can provide quite a challenge. I certainly found it so.
I was on my third sleeve of balls by the end of the round. The gorse gobbled some shots, my lousy play despatched some others and the wind blew a couple of my tee shots to parts of the county which are not included in the course design, nor, I suspect, even on most local maps.
My excuse, which I am sticking firmly to, is that I was playing, I was told, in an especially evil wind.
This wind was a north-easterly, a particularly dastardly fellow round here it seems. The prevailing wind, and what the course was designed to be played in, is a westerly. If you slice, as I do, and if you play in north easterly, make sure you play Stableford round here. As my host remarked “the 17th can be a card wrecker.”
My tee shots on 17 and 18 married slice and wind and sent them so far out of bounds that a short taxi rude would have been required to search for them.
But played with the wind behaving itself, apparently the wind can escort your tee shot towards the green whilst making polite conversation with it. One fourball, still spoken of with respect in the clubhouse, had two players make holes in one on the 257-yard 17th.
The course has undergone several redesigns since it opened in 1904, but the first is an original hole and is a corker. It called Dinkie. It used to be called Ravine, and it plays along the cliffs, with sea and rocks to your right and a ravine to be crossed immediately in front of you.
This requires a carry of no more than 90 yards but I topped my shot. “The typical first-time visitors’ shot here,” my hostess remarked with a slight note of relish.
Beautiful, dramatic, a trifle quirky and playing harder that it looks, the first hole daunts and delights and is a fine introduction to golf at Bamburgh Castle.
The 3rd and 4th are the only par 5s on this 5,604-yard layout, although the 13th is to be extended to make it one, to an infinity green. The 4th green is beautifully set in the immediate landscape, with views behind of the Cheviot Hills and, to its flank, of Budle Bay. The latter is a popular spot at low tide with birdwatchers.
The 6th is 202 yards uphill and into the prevailing wind. It is also to be changed in the redesign, with a new green providing a shorter, less precipitous journey.
The par-3 8th is another enchanting hole. It is played across a wee valley to a green on the opposite hillside, nestled between two rocky outcrops.
The club is called Bamburgh Castle Golf Club as there was another club in Bamburgh, long since gone. The castle is too far away even for one of my wind-assisted slices to bounce off it, but it does provide some glorious distant backdrops, especially to the 16th green.
The brave take on this green from the tee on this short par 4; lesser mortals play it as a dogleg, and at the point of the dogleg comes this glorious view of the castle.
There is no pro shop at Bamburgh Castle Golf Club, but the clubhouse does sell the basics for a round – and this includes a reserve supply of balls.