Don’t let the length of The West Links of North Berwick Golf Club (1832) lull you into thinking that at 6,579 yards and a par of 71 that you will score the round of your life. The ever-constant wind and unique individual hole designs will challenge every club in your bag and your patience, regardless of handicap.
It is also one of the most scenic rounds in golf, starting just on the outskirts of town (like St Andrews’ Old Course) with six holes playing along the sea’s edge. Fantastic views around the course of Fidra Island – the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and Bass Rock, home to one of the world’s largest gannet colonies and across the Firth of Forth to the Kingdom of Fife.
The North Berwick Golf Club boasts one of the world’s most famous original par 3s, The Redan. The 15th measures 189 yards from the championship tee with a severely sloping green from front right-to-back left, a classic Redan hole.
Cleverly placed deep bunkers front left and three pot bunkers front right combined with the Scottish wind will test even the lowest handicap golfers. The basic hole design has been copied countless times around the world by all the great golf architects. However North Berwick was designed more by Mother Nature than man, has stood the test of time and is still considered the most challenging.
C.B. Macdonald, considered by many the father of American golf architecture and his protégé Seth Raynor, utilized a form of this original Redan design on many of their famous routings – including the Par 3 4th at the National Golf Links on Long Island. The Redan and the Reverse Redan are also favorites for today’s acclaimed architects among them Tom Doak and Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in their course routings.
The 4-hole stretch from the 13th to the 16th is as distinctively Scottish and as imaginative a collection of golf holes found anywhere. The short par 4 13th, aptly named The Pit, features a stonewall instead of bunkers guarding the green. The Gate the par-4 3rd hole also features a stonewall as a hazard, this time across the fairway.
The par 4 14th, a classic Narrows design, called Perfection, requires 2 “perfect” shots to hit the green. Along with the Redan hole it was also included in C.B. Macdonald’s 1906 “18 Ideal holes” from around the world.
The par 4 16th has a stonewall off the tee and a following burn across the fairway that requires a moderately long carry. The hole ends with a green unlike any you have played – narrow, with two separate plateaus for pin placements and a deep gully separating the two halves.
Because of its unique place in the history of golf course architecture, and that it is one of the most fun and unique courses to play anywhere, visitor tee times are at a premium. There are actually four local private clubs with playing privileges onto The West Links – The North Berwick Golf Club, North Berwick Ladies Golf Club, the Tantallon Golf Club and the Bass Rock Golf Club.
While visitor times are unfortunately already closed for the 2023 season, their diary will reopen on April 3, 2023 for 2024 bookings and we encourage you to plan early so as to not be disappointed on your Scotland golf trip.