Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club Course Review

The modified James Braid course at Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club has something for everyone

Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club - Feature
The historic remains of Dunstanburgh Castle loom large beyond the tenth green
(Image credit: Rob Smith)

Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club Course Review
GF
Round: £35wd, £40we
Par 70, 6,287 yards
Slope 125
GM Verdict An idyllically situated and hugely enjoyable seaside course that defies categorisation
Favourite Hole The tiny par-3 13th at the far end of the course with the castle serving as an inspirational backdrop

This idyllically situated par-70 course runs along the coast bordering the fabulous Embleton Bay about 40 miles south of the border with Scotland. The course was substantially remodelled and extended by James Braid in 1920, and again so more recently by William Sutherland. What remains is very much their handiwork with just three par 3s and a solitary par 5. Not heavily bunkered, the vagaries of the weather will often be its greatest defence.

Dunstanburgh Castle - Hole 6

Revetted bunkering protects the approach to the sixth green

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

Dunstanburgh Castle starts with a 6-hole loop to the north, with the 1st a particularly stern test playing to a green that is shoulder-to-shoulder with OOB. The next four all ask different questions with the first short hole at the 4th requiring an accurate shot to a table-top green. You head back to the clubhouse via another very good par 4 at the 6th, a dogleg left from an elevated tee and SI1.

Dunstanburgh Castle - Hole 8

A testing time with the putter awaits on the eighth

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

Now heading south towards the castle ruins, the next four holes are all very appealing two-shotters with gently rolling fairways and a 3-tiered green at the 8th.

Dunstanburgh Castle - Hole 9

The green on the tough par-4 ninth

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

The 9th and 10th continue along the edge of the bay but there is plenty of room and the dunes are high so there is little danger of finding the beach.

Dunstanburgh Castle - Hole 10

There is an old fortification beyond the tenth green

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

The back nine opens with a fine par 4 played out towards the sea.

Dunstanburgh Castle - Hole 12

Saddle Rock is the twelfth hole, a long par 4

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

You turn for home but then away again at the 11th and 12th to complete a run of eight consecutive but absorbing par 4s.

Dunstanburgh Castle - Hole 13

It’s hard to think of too many par 3s with a better backdrop than the thirteenth

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

The second short hole enjoys a sublime position at the far end of the course, overlooked by the 14th-century castle. It is only a pitch, but the OOB fence lurks worryingly to the right.

Dunstanburgh Castle - Hole 18

Looking back from the behind the well-protected green at the closing hole

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

The return home is on the landward side of the course via the only par 5, the third and final short hole, and then three more strong par 4s including the final hole which has a burn just short and another green scarily close to OOB.

A friendly welcome awaits at this delightfully informal and unfussy club where golf has been played since 1900. It is undoubtedly one of the best golf courses in Northumberland, and were it in a more populated or accessible area would surely command a green fee that is way higher.

Rob Smith
Rob Smith

Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012 specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played 1,150 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions last year, he still managed to play 80 different courses during 2021, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. Rob is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at r.smith896@btinternet.com.