Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle

This must be everyone’s links golf fantasy come true. A course that winds around a piece of coastline voted the best stretch in Britain, and which sits in the shadow of a 14th century castle.

For views, there’s surely little to top it. But Dunstanburgh Castle doesn’t just look the part. It plays it too.

It was a century ago when James Braid visited and it essentially remains his course – the links guarded by gorse, sand, and gusts that move as golfers make their way around Embleton Bay.

The memorable short 4th, demanding an uphill shot to a raised green, is exciting but challenging at the same time. Anything short runs back, a nasty pot bunker sits to the left, and the green moves from back to front and demands good distance judgement.

Players can see the entirety of the hole and, much more of the course, from the 392-yard par 4 6th – known as Salt Hole for the hazard that awaits those who try and cut too much off the corner of the dogleg. A hollow, found to the right of the putting surface, then makes par a difficult task for those who don't find the green with their approach.

The front 9 closes out with Dunstanburgh Castle’s most difficult hole, 420 yards of accuracy and grit. A fairway bunker on the left prevents anyone who lands it in reaching in two, while the green itself is guarded on both sides by tricky traps.

The course continues to thrill into the back 9, nowhere more so than at the 127-yard 13th, which plays over a ravine to a green that sits almost right under the castle.

If that ravine wasn’t enough to grab the attention on its own then out of bounds both to the right and behind the green should focus matters.

And if you’ve somehow avoided being swept up in the beauty of this Northumberland track, then the next, the only par 5 on the course, is played out with the bay in all its glory straddling the right-hand side of the hole.

You’ll find few better settings but also a really solid course that’s more than worthy of the links tag and at a price that will have you visiting time and time again.