“I imagine that the golfer’s eye must be more often taken off the ball at Bamburgh than on any other course,” wrote Bernard Darwin in his 1920s book Golf on the LNER, “the view is so compellingly beautiful that we really have to look at it, no matter how critical the shot. First of all of course there is the Castle which is gorgeous beyond words, as it stands huge and menacing on the top of its sheer wall of rock, looking out to sea. Then in the middle distance are the Farne Islands and away to the left across a stretch of water and sandy headlands we see another castle, small by comparison, but looking very splendid, perched on its stony pedestal, Holy Island, Lindisfarne. Altogether there may be prettier golf courses, but I really don’t think that I have ever seen them, and I have seen a good many by this time.”
There are many scenically stunning golf courses around England’s long coastline but there are none more glorious than Bamburgh Castle. Its elevated cliff top site provides a natural platform from which to drink in the 360-degree views and also the topography provides for some truly memorable holes. We think Bamburgh Castle has a unique opening series of holes, at least we can’t think of any course that starts with two back-to-back par threes followed by two par fives.
According to the R&A Golfer’s Handbook, George Rochester originally fashioned Bamburgh Castle. The course opened for play in 1904 and was apparently later revised, but the vast majority of this 5,621-yard par 68 layout remains as it was back in the times of Bernard Darwin all those years ago… including the warm welcome in the old pavilion styled clubhouse.
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Average Reviewers Score:
Played Bamburgh today on August Bank Holiday Monday with 3 family members (handicaps of 5, 6, 8 & 11). Fully agree with the previous comments that the views from this course really are superb. We played it on a warm sunny day with a 2-3 club wind. We received a nice warm welcome from the clubhouse and were pleased to be able to play it off the white tees given it is pretty short (5,645 yards - par 68) containing no less than 6 par 3s! Indeed the course starts with 2 par-3s and then 2 par-5s. It's a fun cliff top layout (rather than links) and they make good use of the very undulating land. The greens definitely needed a shave as they were very slow and a bit bumpy but otherwise it was in pretty good nick. The only thing that I didn't enjoy so much was the volume of blind tee shots (maybe 5 or 6) but otherwise it is a good mix of some short par 4s with some challenging par 3s. To sum up... a good fun holiday track but not one that will take your breath away, although the views certainly did.
Just got back from this course and have been inspired enough to do a short review. It’s a course that will divide opinion depending on the factors you rate as most important on a visit. In short, scenery yes no words can do the views justice. Layout, very quirky and definitely 400 yards too short overall we had a group of handicaps from 5 to 20 and that was the general consensus. It was a reasonably calm day but no one is going to find this too much of a challenge, not that that is a bad thing as we have also played our share of courses that were too tough to enjoy. Not as many blind shots as some are making out and not an excessive number for a links, can’t say any of my group over 2 rounds lost a ball that didn’t deserve to be lost. Not the easiest walk and some of the steep concreted paths look downright lethal in the wet. Condition, in the height of summer, was good overall, greens a little off colour in a typical links way but putted fine, fairways slightly worn and tees a bit scruffy in places. Clubhouse was small and pleasant, only one member of staff apparently doing everything but she was coping, perfectly adequate changing facilities and good value catering. Small but accessible warm up/practise area.
Would I go back? A qualified yes, but being new to the area I would like to see some of the other well regarded links first to compare. The next day we actually played Dunstanburgh, which was considerably cheaper and we actually overall rated higher. The layout was somewhat stronger, the walk considerably easier, and the views 95% as good. Bamburgh ask £50 for a days golf, which is certainly not bad but looks a bit expensive by comparison
Just came back from a holiday in England and played 9 Top 100 courses ranging form Royal Lytham to the Addington. This brings my total to 45 courses. The first reason to come to Bamburgh was its status of most scenic course in Britain but what a suprise. I love rustic original courses that give you the feeling to play in and against nature. This course is one of the best examples I have seen. Rugged, original, thinking mans course. Of course you are challenged with some unusual features but that's whats it all about. When we played in mid July the winds were very strong, we were blown out of our shoes so to speak. But we ( I play off 7) still managed to get a reasonable score. My good mood must have come from driving a green for the first time in my life (the 18th). I three putted (naturally) but left Bamburgh with a warm and unique memory I will cherish for a long time.
Play Bamburgh Castle and find out how good it is. It is not the longest, but has the most spectacular views bettered only by Pebble Beach and Kapalua. Set around Budle Bay with Lindisfarne, The Farne Islands and Bamburgh Castle as a backdrop this is a hidden gem. Although only a par 68 the course record is 64, and when the wind blows 84 is a good crack. I have played this course more than 200 times and never get tired of this beauty.
I read the reviews on the morning of August 1st, 2010, then played the course in the afternoon.
For me the undoubted magic of this place is the way that the course is hewn out of the characterful land-with the maximum of nature & the minimum of nurture. The basalt rock profoundly shapes the course, standing proud above the surrounding scenary that frames it so magnificently. The gorse-speckled contours create intriguing holes, each bringing a smile to the explorer's face.
You might well be able to fault it, but this is surely one of the originals, restoring the rightful balance between nature & the golfer.
As an 11 handicapper I really enjoy this course. If you enjoy some peace and quiet and amazing coastal views perhaps there is no better place to play. Simply breathtaking! The holes themselves have their challenges. If you don't lke this golf course (previous reviewer) then I think you are either tired of life or perhaps you should be clubbing in Ibiza!
Heavens above, what on earth is this course doing in any list of top courses??!! Truly awful, I'm afraid. Sure there are some great views out to sea of the surrounding coastline but that isn't enough to make it a great course- or even a good course. As others have said, there are too many Mickey Mouse holes - the 8th for my money being the worst. A hundred and sixty yards but with a rocky outcrop running the complete width of the green immediately in front of the landing area meaning any ball falling short of the putting surface will ricochet off at any angle - this is CRAZY golf! I'm off 2 and landed a nine iron from a great height on the green but of my partners one fell short and never saw the ball again as it bounced wildly from rock to rock and one other took more club to be safe but befell a similar fate through the back of the green. AVOID this course if you are in any way a serious golfer- no, avoid it at all costs no matter your handicap. Whoever said it is the best course in Northumberland is talking from his backside - up the coast a few miles at Goswick is the best I'd say and I've played most of them. The editors of this site need to vet the local parochial and partisan comments more severely before it (the site) becomes discredited as being a true catalogue of the 100 best courses. Bamburgh doesn't rate as worthy of appearing in a listing of the top THOUSAND courses.
Well Mr 2 handicapper, you clearly don’t like Bamburgh Castle. That’s fair enough, as everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. I think people play golf for a multitude of reasons. Many people have enjoyed a thoroughly pleasurable and unique golfing experience at Bamburgh Castle others have not. The 8th hole is the club’s signature hole and effectively has an “island green”. How many people find their ball after missing the green on the 17th at Sawgrass? The concept of an island green was a landmark in architectural terms when Bamburgh was laid out and for those who are interested in the history of golf might find the one-shot holes at Bamburgh interesting, perhaps exciting. As editor of this site I can tell you that we do vet course reviews and very occasionally we have to intervene. It’s sometimes quite difficult to tell whether comments are parochial and partisan or whether the reviewer actually likes the course, but this is an honest review website, which is why we are leaving your review online. You mention Berwick-upon-Tweed is better than Bamburgh in your opinion… well, Berwick is ranked more highly than Bamburgh on the Top 100 website at the moment, so perhaps you are right, but telling people to “AVOID” Bamburgh Castle because in your opinion there are too many “Mickey Mouse” holes is hardly the epitome of objectivity.
04 August 2009
So you chose the wrong club and/or shot for the 8th - just think, a slightly softer 8 iron and you could have been in birdie teritory... Seriously though, you can't criticise an old links design based upon modern course design standards (and let's not start the debate here about which courses are 'better' out of the old/new designs). You're lucky that you've got sharp grooves and pro V1 technology to play with. Presumably people have been playing that hole for decades without and managing to score. To give such a beautiful and fun links course a 1/6 rating is staggering and to my mind detracts from any credibility your review might otherwise have had. I agree that Goswick is a much better all round test of golf, but it doesn't have the setting Bamburgh has. What makes a 'good' golf course has to take a whole range of factors into account to account for different tastes and I would consider that is why Bamburgh is ranked (rightly) where it is. If you want a long boring slog in the North East, go to Slaley. If you want sum fun on a links course go to Bamburgh.
04 August 2009
I myself as a PGA golf Professional have been lucky enough to play many of the top courses in the UK. I have played Bamburgh on a number of occasions and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Whilst it doesn’t compare with Royal Birkdale or many of the great links of Ireland and Scotland it does have its place for many golfing enthusiasts. In fact I have had some great fun days playing Bamburgh and will continue to visit for many years to come. My views are shared by many of my fellow golf professionals. Perched on a cliff top with some of the most breath taking views in Northumberland towards the castle and the Farne Islands it’s simply a gem of a course. To say AVOID this course is a joke and an insult. When looking for a golfing break I would encourage a visit to Goswick and Bamburgh, simply good honest fun and rustic golf at its best.
05 August 2009
I have played many course around Britain and was a member at Bamburgh Castle for about 20 years. The charm and vistas of Bamburgh are unique. You clearly did not appreciate this. P.S. I have had a hole-in-one on the 8th and the 14th on the reverse journey.
07 August 2009
Mr. 2 Handicapper, I do not want to get into a "hissy fight" about handicaps, home club and number of Top 100 Courses played but .. Bamburgh, although not a links course of the calibre of Hoylake, Birkdale, Carnoustie etc etc is still a lovely course .. simply cannot agree with your comments.
10 August 2009
I would hope that we would all agree that we play golf for fun. sometimes fun comes from pitting your wits against a very tough challenge (eg Royal Lytham which has no scenic merit whatsoever) sometimes taking on a beast (eg St Mellion) but sometimes it comes from playing the game we love for fun on an idiosyncratic and stunning course - like Bamburgh (or Nefyn, which is remeniscent). Golf started out as playing the scenery and putting the holes in next - Bamburgh Castle keeps that tradition alive and we should embrace that rather than complaining that it isn't a PGA formula 6*3 6*4 6*5 par 72. I loved the 8th. Vive la difference !
28 February 2013
Sounds like this guy struggled, surely you should be penalised for missing greens, next he will not be liking par 3's with water on! A fantastic local course, and apologies you don't think you should be penalised for poor shots.
25 July 2013
just played this course, it is probably 400 yards too short for average handicaps and very quirky in the layout, enjoyed it thoroughly and is definitely up there in my favourite courses but just had to address the comment about the 8th.. to hit the ball into the rocks is a rank bad shot off any handicap, they are 40 yards short of the green. Its a perfectly fair target for the length of the hole
As others have said, the course is beautiful. Its a pleasure just to stand on (almost all) of the tees. Its a short course but some of the holes require careful thought. The last three in particular are the best set of matchplay holes I've seen - a birdie is quite possible, but so is a double bogey or worst. At the end, the clubhouse is a classic and friendly.
Yes, for sure there's a great view to be had here but for my money there were too many par 3's....six in all and that's too big a percentage on any course. Sure it's tricky but that in itself doesn't make it a great course or even a very good course. Sadly the N East has a dearth of really great (or even very good courses) so I can see why they have to hold county matches here. If you're heading north then give a try but far, far better courses await you further up the A1 at Dunbar East Links and then on to East Lothian....really great courses with equally impressive surroundings.
Must agree that Bamburgh Castle is probably one of the most scenic courses in the world. Having played Turnberry Ailsa already this year, I must admit that Bamburgh beats it for views. It is just such a spectacular place to play, with the views of Bamburgh Castle, Holy Island and the Cheviot Hills. Plus the gorse was in full flower, so the place just looked stunning. I really enjoyed the course too. Not long, but still a good test of golf. There are quite a few blind shots, but I didn't mind that. The par 3 8th hole is the most memorable hole on the course, with an elevated tee down to a green shielded by protruding rocks and gorse. The greens were in fantastic condition, and the course was generally in very good knick. My only flaws are that the course is quite open and you can get away with some loose drive. Also, I would prefer more strategic bunkers to toughen the course up. Other than that, a pleasure to play and will definitely come back.
lovely views but got to agree that it is a bit of a goat track with many blind holes and mickey mouse holes with the par 3 6th only missing a windmill to complete the mickey mouse feel to it.That said was in decent condition when my outing played it but we will be going further up the coast to play Goswick,a much fairer and all round strong links course with no hidden parts to it and indeed is from 08 an open qualifying course.The question has been asked why is Bamburgh a county event course? Why indeed...
Because it is rated by past and present county players as one of the best and most enjoyable courses in Northumberland.
If you are after stunning scenery - then this is the course to play. I have never played on a golf course with more magnificent scenery than Bamburgh...below you are miles of glorious sandy beaches and a fantastic view of Bamburgh Castle. However, if it weren't for the scenery not many would play here - there are too many blind shots (on a couple of par 3s?!) and it's a goat track. In our group of 9 - more than half of us really didn't enjoy the course at all....and we won't be going back - a much better course (and better value) is Goswick a few miles up the road. If you are coming to Bamburgh - leave the clubs in the car and bring the dog for a walk on the beach. The lunch and service was terrible too. In my opinion this doesn't deserve the praise it gets - I think folk get misty-eyed with the awesome views but forget the failings of the golf course.
"a goat track".......then why is Bamburgh the venue for so many county events?
This a fun, gem which has kept me amused on and off for twenty years. It’s short but it is not easy and for the first time of playing you’ll need to study the yardage chart carefully but better still, play with somebody who knows the course. There are a number of semi-blind shots, even to the par 3s which are simply amongst the best collection of one shot holes on any course I have ever played. Take my advice and make the short detour off the A1 on your way up to the Home of Golf and play Bamburgh Castle. If you get clear weather this will be the highlight of your golfing trip.
Of all the courses I have played, there are no finer views. Beaches, castles, hills, islands etc etc. 3rd tee at Rosses Point (Co Sligo) comes close, but it doesn't have medieval castles thrown in. And the course itself is just great fun. Final added bonus is that if you are playing well, then you could shoot a flattering gross score. Regardless I defy you to leave without a big smile on your face, and the intention to return.