FOUNDED in 1900, the links at Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club, with its unrivalled views of Embleton Bay and Dunstanburgh Castle’s ghostly ruins is still a gem which continues to taunt golfers as it has for over a century.
These links were initially owned by Dunstanburgh Castle Estate and came into being as an attraction for visitors to the Dunstanburgh Castle Hotel. Prior to the First World War, this new nine-hole course appeared to attract the more wealthy golfers – in the summer children would be looked after by nannies as they played on the beach whilst the adults enjoyed a round of golf.
In 1919, the course along with the rest of the Dunstanburgh estate was purchased by Sir Arthur Munro Sutherland, owner of a successful steamship company and later, owner of the Newcastle Chronicle chain of newspapers
The following year Sir Arthur employed the services of James Braid, one of Britain’s outstanding golf course architects. It was his intention to remodel the nine-hole course within 12 months and to implement Braid’s design for an 18-hole course within three or four years.
Although the first stage was completed on time, the extension to the course did not materialise and it wasn’t until 1932 before three holes were added followed by a further three in 1935.
Two years later Braid’s design was finally completed and following a wait of 17 years, visitors could now enjoy this masterpiece of a course.
Sir Arthur died in 1953 and two years later, his son Sir Ivan purchased the course from his father’s executors. In 1961, Sir Ivan gifted the golf course to the National Trust but retained the lease which was later transferred to his son William.
Towards the end of the 1980s, a new 80-year lease was negotiated by the current lessee Dr Peter Gilbert allowing the club to make significant investment in new machinery to improve the maintenance of the course and a much- needed upgrade of the clubhouse.
Dr Gilbert is a man totally committed to maintaining this historic golf course as well as preserving the flora and fauna on and around the course. In 2007, Dr Gilbert’s head greenkeeper at the time, Simon Olver, was awarded the Special Initiative prize in the British and International Greenkeepers Association Golf Environment Competition.
With six holes to the north of the well- appointed clubhouse and the remaining 12 to the south, the location of the course is marvellous and the superb backdrop is completed by a National Trust bird sanctuary at one end and the imposing ruins of the castle along with a sheer cliff face, nesting place of countless seabirds at the other.
And following all the freezing snowy weather of recent times, this fast draining links course offers enjoyable golf all year round.