Regional Qualifying Feature - Berwick-upon-Tweed (Goswick) Golf Club
Berwick-upon-Tweed (Goswick) Golf Club is often praised for its wonderfully natural terrain, situated 10 miles south of the Scottish border on the beautiful Northumberland coast.
Founded in 1890 and situated six miles south of Berwick-upon-Tweed, the links course will host a Regional Qualifying event on June 25 for The 147th Open, held at Carnoustie from July 19 to 22.
Initially a nine-hole course, Berwick-upon-Tweed (Goswick) was lengthened first in 1904 by Willie Park Jnr and then in 1930 by five-time Open champion James Braid.
A professional history
In 1927, seasoned professional Abe Mitchell, played the course on a tour of the north of England, shooting 73 and 69 in his two rounds. Mitchell was full of praise for the course after his round but felt it could do with being lengthened and suggested a few other improvements.
Speaking to the Daily Express’ golf correspondent, Leo Munro, Mitchell said: “It struck me as being one of the comparatively few absolutely natural seaside courses in this country. The material is there to develop it into a really first-class natural course.”
“The first thing is to get more length and I saw a long stretch of first-rate golfing country at one end of the course which might be used.”
Three years later Braid came along and seemingly did just that, revealing detailed plans to significantly alter 13 holes but retain the course’s natural feel. His changes, along with the work of Frank Pennink in 1964, led to the course we see today, which measures 6,803 yards – around 2,000 yards longer than the course Mitchell played back in 1927.
Excitement to host again
Club secretary Rory Davidson, hopes that the club can create some more history when Regional Qualifying returns to this northern corner of Northumberland. Berwick-upon-Tweed (Goswick) last hosted Open Qualifying between 2008 and 2012 and Davidson feels the return of qualifying for golf’s oldest major could have a significant impact on the club.
He said: “It’s exciting for the club. When we last had the qualifying here I know that the number of visitors enquiring about playing increased overnight. I’m not saying that we will necessarily see the same jump this time round, but to have it back so soon after five years is great, so we are delighted.”
Davidson is confident of a successful day on June 25 and is looking forward to enlisting the help of local greenkeepers to prepare the course.
“We’ve moved our Club Championship,” he said. “As for actually getting the course ready, we will definitely have help from greenkeepers from other courses. They are excited to show what they can do and build their portfolio.”
The course itself is an undulating challenge, with variable winds that come in. Contoured greens and well positioned bunkering adding to the difficulty and Davidson is expecting the course to pose a stern test for those looking to qualify for The 147th Open.
He said: “It’s a classic links course and when the wind blows it can be quite tough. I’d say the best hole on the course is the 14th, which is a par four with a slight dogleg right. The green is surrounded by hills on both sides and it’s just a classic par four and looks great. It’s been listed in the top 100 holes in the UK by some golf magazines, so it’s definitely up there.”