One of Scotland’s most intriguing stretches of open links...
Nestled on the banks for the Firth of Forth, The North Berwick Golf Club presents one of Scotland’s most intriguing stretches of open links.
Perhaps it is the lovely views across the Firth to Fife, the near proximity of the rocky outcrops of Fidra or Craigleith and the many skerries (small islands) that lie just off the coast that make a round here so memorable. Possibly it’s the fine stretch of beach that lies so troublingly close to many of the holes or the fact that the course starts and finishes within the town of North Berwick. Whatever its inexpressible charm, The North Berwick Golf Club is a definite ‘must play’ for any visitor to the Home of Golf.
Like so many of Scotland’s premier courses, the West Links has its idiosyncrasies; blind shots into greens, a wall or two crossing at curious angles. This is golf as it was established back in the 18th century dictated by the natural occurrence of land and lie and us mere mortals must abide by its decree. However unusual you may find them, it is worth recording that many of the holes found here at North Berwick, unchanged since their ‘discovery’ by golf’s earliest architects, have since been fastidiously copied and integrated into more modern designs around the world.
The 1st is an excellent example of man abiding by nature. From the tee, the green is raised and not so far away. But so many of us, chatting with the starter or our playing partners joke about putting our drive on the beach and go ahead and do just that! The angle of flight is often intersected by a stiff westerly forcing a second shot to be taken from amongst seaweed and sand. This threat exists even more so at the 2nd so appropriately called ‘Sea’.
And so one of Scotland’s most intriguing courses unfolds. There are so many favourite holes but the most delightful stretch runs from 13th to 15th. The 13th , at 365 yards is not particularly long but made up by difficulty. The hole is called the ‘Pit’ with a dry stone wall running along the inner edge of the green, a thorny bank rising seaward. With your drive you have to play as close to the wall to maintain a workable angle in - or lay up with your approach in order to access as the the narrow, sunken target.
The 14th, ‘Perfection’ is known for its two blind shots and its low-lying green position hard by the beach with the Bass Rock fully visible away in the distance. Then comes the famous 15th, the Redan. This is the most flattered hole in the world if, as they say, imitation is its greatest form. To stand under the twin, towering bunkers that defend the green and flag 190 yards away with a steady cross-wind is as unnerving as you could wish a tee shot to be.
Playing the course, some days it's calm but mostly there are blusters to contend with. The roll of the ball on rippling fairways dictates by happenstance your lie. But that's links golf, the purest form of the game and one that makes courses like the West Links at North Berwick supremely challenging and undefiably enjoyable.
The North Berwick Golf Club
New Clubhouse, Beach Road, North Berwick EH39 4BB
Tel: 01620 892135
In the centre of the town of North Berwick. By road from Edinburgh take the A720 City By Pass (South), follow signs for Berwick-Upon-Tweed (A1) then follow A198, signposted North Berwick. Then follow signs for 'Town Centre' and 'Golf Course'.
18 holes, 6,464 yards, Par 71, SSS 72
Weekdays: £95 per round, £120 per day (2014) Weekends: £95 per round
Visitors are welcome 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday and after 10.20am, Saturday and Sunday. This is a very popular course so book well in advance.