Can there be anything better in our great sport than a beautiful day on a championship links?
The opening round of our two-week 2021 summer holiday was on the Northumberland coast where we stopped over en route to Scotland.
We played Goswick, a day after its club championship, and the course was in stunning condition.
So much so that a chap playing in front of us asked if we were members because he visits annually and wanted to ensure that people knew it has never been in better shape.
Situated six miles south of Berwick, Goswick is unpretentious with a one-level clubhouse and basic but tasty food with friendly staff.
I had already been in correspondence with its secretary who had arranged a double-header deal which the club has with Muirfield and the club professional matched his bonhomie.
After we had warmed up on the excellent driving range, he warned us that the course was in good nick but ‘difficult’.
I backed up his wise words on the first, a rising bending par four, and the second, a downward tricky par three, by sliding into deep greenside bunkers because I had been too greedy with my approaches.
The elevated second tee is one of several which has dramatic views across the beach and out to the North Sea.
The vista in the opposite direction across the Northumberland countryside is equally exhilarating.
Anyway, early lessons showed that Goswick is a course where accurate drives are rewarded because it is not overly long.
Pot bunkers, long rough, bushes and out of bounds can punish wayward shots but plotters may engineer good scores.
Mrs W yielded juicy fruit from the SEVEN par fives on the women’s card. Men have four on theirs but none are beasts when the wind is gentle, although I suspect it isn’t very often.
Every hole at Goswick is interesting and many have twists and turns, although in the front nine I would plump for the straight eighth as a favourite.
It is deceiving because of a slope of heavy rough to the right of the green and a bunker waiting to gobble up balls to the left. Weaving between them was a bit of a thrill.
The run-in at Goswick also had our pulses racing. The dogleg 14th which rises to a hidden green elicits possibilities of birdies and the picturesque, steep downhill part-three 15th requires a shot over a hump to the front left of the green. I know this because Mrs W and I both landed ours within four feet of the pin.
The 17th is a short part five into one of the many large putting surfaces and the 18th is a comfortable par four for men from an elevated tee – although those who go for the green may find themselves in one of the bunkers which protect it.
The women start from halfway down the hole and play it as a par three,
Goswick is an unusual experience for the ladies because there are only six pars fours but Mrs W scored well and we proclaimed that it was probably the course we had jointly enjoyed the most so far on the top100 quest.
Sure, there are others which we both prefer individually but we both thought this was well above expectation and had a brilliant start to our holiday.