North Berwick Golf Club in Scotland's East Lothian region an influential, must-play links
NORTH BERWICK, SCOTLAND – Muirfield is unquestionably the most well-known golf course in Scotland’s golf-rich East Lothian region just east of Edinburgh, thanks to its Open Championship pedigree.
But for the traveling golfer, it might not be the area’s great “must play.”
North Berwick is a traditional nine-out/nine-in links that boasts a collection of holes that are as exciting, unique and scenic as you’ll find in links golf over in the U.K.
And although no Open Championship has been staged here, it’s been one of golf course design’s great influential courses. You’ve all probably heard of the famous “Redan” hole, the par-3 15th with the blind green sloping front-to-back and right-to-left. But after playing the course yesterday, that hole may not even be in the top six holes of the course in my view.
My favorite hole, in a landslide, is the par-4 13th, “Pit". It’s a pretty short par 4, but your approach shot plays to a green on the other side of a rock wall to a complex very reminiscent of “Dell” over at Ireland’s Lahinch. I hit a PW left of the green, but a generous kick put the ball within six feet for birdie (to which I gladly botched the putt).
No. 1 and 18 are eerily similar to St. Andrews: playing right in the heart of the old historic seaside town, with a massive double fairway shared between them. 18, just a 280-yard par 4, even has it’s own “valley of sin” before the green (only mirrored on the right side of the green).
But I would liken North Berwick not so much to St. Andrews. Rather, it’s a slightly more player-friendly (and prettier) version of Prestwick down in South Ayrshire. Both courses began to form in the mid 1800s and are full of blind shots and almost insanely steep bunkers that make the course a great deal of fun. And both call for a mid-iron off the 1st tee of course…
An added bonus to Muirfield, North Berwick is £75 for a round compared to Muirfield’s £175 sticker. Though with a newly-restored clubhouse (that serves up a delicious chicken and bacon baguette), buy your group the £105 day pass and go around twice (you may need to in order to successfully navigate the head-scratching 16th green).
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From the pictures, it looks pretty lush in comparison to conditions we faced in summertime. I imagine the ball is not bouncing quite as badly for you. We could only hold the green with a wedge if the wind was into us.