Golf Course Review of Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club

Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club

Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Course

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Quick Summary: A true links experience with some excellent holes

Our 5 Star Rating: 4.1

It may have only been February when I played Dunstanburgh Castle but I strongly suspect this will be the biggest surprise of 2015. What a gem of a links course.

I will be honest and admit that Dunstanburgh wasn’t really on my radar of courses to play. Mainly because it wasn’t included in the book ‘True Links’, a publication that supposedly includes all of the genuine links courses in the World.

Leaving Dunstanburgh out is a clear omission because this course is not only the real deal when it comes to links golf it’s one of the most enjoyable I’ve played.

OK, let’s get things into perspective first. It’s not going to be hosting The Open anytime soon and Goswick, just up the coast towards Berwick upon Tweed, is king of the links in this part of the country but Dunstanburgh, designed by the legendary James Braid, is good and at times excellent.

There’s little doubt that this is a links course from the moment you drive through the tiny village of Embleton and crest the hill of the single track road that leads down to the golf course. You are faced with rippling linksland separated from a sandy beach by large shaggy sand dunes. The pulse quickens.

Admittedly, the opening tee-shot is less than promising but as soon as you reach your drive and the green comes into view things start to improve. The contouring of putting surface is superb and this is a feature that repeats itself several times during the round. From the tee Dunstanburgh is solid but it is the green complexes that bring the course to life and make this Angel of the North shine brighter than most.

After the opener you play a lovely cluster of holes on higher where the exposed, table-top par-three fourth and short par-four fifth stand out. The latter having a wicked green where being on the wrong side can prove extremely harmful to your score.

You return to the lower part of the course with a descending drive at the sixth before you play along the shoreline all the way out to the 13th with only the 11th turning back on itself momentarily.

The brilliantly undulating fairways of the seventh, eighth and ninth are only bettered by their respective green surrounds. The one at the eighth being as good as I’ve come across on virtually any golf course. This trio of holes stand out on what is a very strong stretch of the course.

The tenth has a real sense of grandeur whilst the next most definitely requires precision rather than brawn. The backdrop of Dunstanburgh Castle, which has now grown large, occupies the skyline at the 12th whilst the short 13th, also in the shadow of the ruins, has bags of character.

Having already played alongside the final five holes, on your way to the far part of the course, you would be forgiven for thinking that the closing stretch, on the inland half of the links, would be much more pedestrian and mundane. Far from it!

Maybe it was because I played them into the teeth of a stiffening wind but they provided a testing challenge but above all else tons of strategy. Out-of-bounds is a feature down the left-hand-side of most of the hole but importantly it is from this side that the best angles into the greens are provided. The 14th, 16th and 17th are all fine holes and I’m sure many a good score is now in the same state as the Castle that the club is named after.

If you are a true lover of links golf you will more than enjoy a round at Dunstanburgh Castle. Paired with a round at Goswick this would make for a tremendous 36 hole day of links golf in an area that often doesn’t get the true credit it deserves.

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