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Sean_A

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RENAISSANCE CLUB: 2021-22 Winter Tour New
« on: June 26, 2014, 05:36:33 PM »


Carved out of approximately 310 acres of forest and dunes between Muirfield and North Berwick on Scotlandís heralded Golf Coast, Renaissance opened for play in 2007. Five years later a land swap deal was struck with The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, usually referred to as Muirfield, which enabled the club to build three new holes (9-11) on the point overlooking Fidra Island. It may seem a minor detail, but the three new holes visually connect the course with the Firth of Forth in a way the original design failed to do.

The Sevardi brothers instructed Tom Doak to build a course which could host tour pros, consequently the total length is some 7300 yards and the layout isnít quite as forgiving as one might expect. After pitching for several years, 2019 saw the first of three Scottish Opens held at Renaissance. The event is also scheduled to be hosted in 2022 as a joint US PGA Tour/European Tour venture. It is thought the joint effort may raise the profile of the tournament especially if the scheduling keeps the Scottish Open and Open played on consecutive weeks.

Renaissance was my first Doak and team effort.  I didn't know what to expect, but I wasn't expecting a heathland/links hybrid.  To be honest, I was most reminded of Formby which is a sincere compliment.  Regardless of comparisons, I think Renaissance is good even if considerably narrowed in the search to host the Scottish Open. Tom may have to edit his new Confidential Guide  :D  On the other hand, I have seen tighter courses so its not a disaster.  Other than the hassle of ball searching, the aspect about the constricted fairways which is most troubling is the knock on effect of the greens.  The greens are fairly severe, but when approached from areas meant to be fairway and are now rough the greens become more severe than intended.  There are times when it is difficult or maybe even impossible to earn the best position of approach.  If one is out of position it will take a very good short game to plug the leaking boat. 

The problem of decreased width is immediately apparent on the first, an attractive hole with a heathland feel.  There are two winsome sentinel trees guarding extreme lines of approach.  However, with the fairway constricted, one must avoid the left 25% of fairway or be forced to cope with the lumber.  To offer an idea, more or less, the brown rough in the picture used to be fairway.  As I say, regardless, the first is a fine opening hole, but I can't help think I am not getting the full treatment offered by Doak. 


The second too is a good, tough four, but even tighter than the first with a severe penalty for missing the short grass.  Sometimes, it is even possible to find an unseen bunker deep in the rough and thank goodness for your lucky fortune.  The par 5 third slips around a stand of trees and eventually funnels to one of my favourite greens on the course.  Someone said Doak doesn't do flat and that may be true, but this green is close enough to flat with a hint a savagery if one gets overly ambitous.






My favourite of the opening holes, the 4th used to looks as if it was exported from Surrey. In the past year or so many trees have been removed and one victim is the tree that stood left of the green. The hole is definitely easier with more space. However, being able to hit a fade into the green cemented for me that its removal was right and proper. Before and after.




More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: May 03, 2022, 01:33:56 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

George Freeman

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland (?) Beauty
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2014, 05:59:08 PM »
What was the thought process behind the narrowing of the playing fields?
Mayhugh is my hero!!

"I love creating great golf courses.  I love shaping earth...it's a canvas." - Donald J. Trump

Adrian_Stiff

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland (?) Beauty
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2014, 06:11:50 PM »
Sean you have the gift of the gab describing golf courses and your pictures are perfect.
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Paul Gray

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland (?) Beauty
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2014, 06:15:32 PM »
Too lazy to look at a geo map, the turf is pure links, is it not?
In the places where golf cuts through pretension and elitism, it thrives and will continue to thrive because the simple virtues of the game and its attendant culture are allowed to be most apparent. - Tim Gavrich

Brett Hochstein

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland (?) Beauty
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2014, 06:20:32 PM »
Paul,

The turf is awesome--among the best in Scotland I would say.  And as always I mean that in a fast playing fescue sort of way.  I've been enjoying the pictures and talk of the course.  Hope I can get back and see the new holes someday soon.
"From now on, ask yourself, after every round, if you have more energy than before you began.  'Tis much more important than the score, Michael, much more important than the score."     --John Stark - 'To the Linksland'

http://www.hochsteindesign.com

Ryan Coles

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland (?) Beauty
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2014, 06:26:41 PM »
Sean

Is the rough as penal as it looks? As in dont bother trying to find it?

Marty Bonnar

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland (?) Beauty
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2014, 07:31:28 PM »
Ryan,
Some of the rough is beyond outrageous. I found I preferred being in the 'hidden' bunkers!
It's a great sadness that so many of the beautifully shaped and strategically positioned bunkers have been effectively neutered by such injudicious maintenance. I'd suggest not a decision made from playability concerns and more from the possibility of professional tournament play. As a great man of these parts oft spake, tis a pity...
F.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2014, 07:38:22 PM by Martin Bonnar »
Assembled in Michigan from foreign parts.

PPallotta

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland (?) Beauty
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2014, 11:06:51 PM »
Thanks you, Sean - always top flight work.

You and others have mentioned the playability angle re the narrowing of fairways, and you're right to focus on that. But to the outside eye, I find myself wondering if those responsible for the maintenance have much artistic/aesthetic taste or sensibility -- since it is so clear to me, to anyone with a feel for scale and proportion and character, that the way the trees are set back and the overall sweeping/open vistas and the (otherwise) flattish, one-textured and links-like presentation -- to me reminiscent of Wolf Point -- are all wholly at odds with the pinched in, high rough and multi-coloured look the maintenance team have foisted upon it. As I say, I know 'aesthetics' aren't supposed to be the most important marker, but that way of looking at a course does I think become more relevant when one can sense even just from pictures that the scale, proportion and character of the design were meant to work together to create/enhance playability, such that a so-called aesthetic marring actually mars that playability as well. But again, I'm 5000 miles away and only looking at your excellent photos (you're getting better as a photographer it seems to me).

Peter

PS - please continue the tour, of course, I'd been looking forward to seeing the RC.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2014, 11:09:05 PM by PPallotta »

Sean_A

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty New
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2014, 11:13:13 PM »
Pietro

On some later holes the tree effect is even more obvious.  Some folks mention the trees, but for the most part they are spot on perfect.  They stand alone and are far prettier for it.  While the effect won't be quite as dramatic on many inland courses, Renaissance does offer the visual possibilities in allowing the beauty of trees to shine for having far less of them.  Back on the aesthetic issue, the constriction of the fairways must also bury loads of shaping work and natural rumples/elevation changes.  Its not the end of the world, but sure seems wasteful.

Ciao
« Last Edit: April 06, 2022, 02:49:05 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

jeffwarne

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2014, 05:50:02 AM »
A truly fine place in a fantastic part of the golf world.
Great hospitality by all.
thanks to Tom and his team for organizing and The Renaissance for the great time.

Loved spending a bit of time in Gullane (the town) after the event  and was a total access whore ;) ;D, engaging kids(or perhaps it was their mums) to legally get on the kids  pitch and putt.

The trees at Renaissance(that are left) are awesome and enhance the stunning beauty of the property-with long open views across the property, yet allowing one to enjoy the stately trees left.
The high grass does not enhance the stunning property.
But,such is the nature and peer pressure of the neighborhood.

Such a great course, and sadly it took multiple plays to see or find many of the features which were buried in deep rough.
The second and third impressions were much better than the first, but I think this would have been true anyway and simply have elevated it from a higher starting point.
First play around I did not feel I was playing the course, but rather playing to STAY on the course.
We played with a pro who was 4 under on his second round with us which he achieved by hitting a driving iron on nearly every hole, which removed any temptations and indirectly probably improved his game, as opposed to options clouding his decisions. ;)

Very hard to understand why anyone would want to hide the greatness of the design and place and remove the freedom and choices from the tee.
So elegant a property and design, yet so (newly) contrived.

Good news is it's very fixable issue with the same grass in fway, primary and high rough.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2014, 10:18:53 AM by jeffwarne »
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Niall C

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2014, 09:12:21 AM »
Sean

This weekend, I'm going to win the lottery, I'm absolutely sure of it, and when I do I'm going to sponsor you to spend a year in Scotland going round doing your wonderful photo tours. Scotland needs it, too much focus on the championship links.

As for your comments, I was very interested in your first impression. Renaissance was also my first, and still only, Tom D course and I didn't know what to expect either. I first played it when it was the old layout and it started with half a dozen flattish holes through the trees with many of the holes playing in parallel. All terrific holes but it struck me how "traditional" it felt which was certainly not what I was expecting. Losing 3 flattish holes through the trees and gaining some holes on the coast has perhaps changed the overall character somewhat but it's certainly not lead to a knock on the quality IMO.

Niall 

James Boon

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2014, 01:51:22 PM »
Sean,

Thanks for your pictures. I was going to wait until you had finished before putting a few of mine up, but if you are going to do a few holes at a time I will follow in the same style...

The first three holes are over a reasonably flat part of the property, but the excellent greens give its plenty of character so you probably don't realise how flat it is?

View of the first green. There are quite a few bunkers off to the left, but actually there is a bit of room out there and its not a bad area to miss the green.



View of the second from the left side of the fairway (dont get me started on the clubhouse)...


...from where an approach has to carry a couple of bunkers short. Anything bailed out right will either run long into that bunker or leave a tricky up and down up and over a slope. As seen from just short left.


A view from short of the third. I think I've seen some older photos of this green with a lot more trees behind which I guess have been cleared out recently?


The approach to 4 from the right side, similar to Sean's picture.


A bit more undulation in the land here, especially with the raised up green, which has an interesting little valley running through its front portion down to the left, so you think you have carried the front slope but might not have found the best position on the green, seen here from short left


I will follow up with more once Sean has posted more...

Cheers,

James


« Last Edit: June 28, 2014, 02:00:16 PM by James Boon »
2022 Highlights: Hollinwell (Notts), Brora, Reay

"It celebrates the unadulterated pleasure of being in a dialogue with nature while knocking a ball round on foot." Richard Pennell

Sean_A

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2014, 06:29:46 PM »
Renaissance Tour Conts

Jeff

I like your line about playing to stay on the course  :D .  Somebody mentioned #s 4 and 5 as part of a great run of holes.  I didn't get the impression that #5 was special, but that could well be due to the narrowed fairway.  If I were to guess, I think perhaps 40 yards were lost. Additionally, I played the hole in a contrary wind so the set-up may have been extra-odd.  However, the green is one of my favourites on the course.  It seems to me that coming in from the far right allows one to climb straight up the steeply sloped green front.  There isn't much room right or to the rear before balls will trickle away.  Below is the approach to #5.


Speaking of the 6th!  It is one of the more benign looking vicious holes I have experienced. The tee is set at an angle to a narrow green which feeds away from play.  I can't decide if the hole is indecent or just hateful enough to be brilliant.  A contrary tail wind can make the hole highly challenging.  I found the hole challenging, but more manageable with the wind at our face. 


7, the second three shotter and the first hole where trees are were flamboyantly promoted as a superb backdrop. Serious changes have happened. The first part of the fairway has been shifted considerably left and many trees were removed.  The approach before and after.




While quite narrow for a par 5, there are forward tees which help make the hole enjoyable.  Of course, the green is where the action is and I appreciated an opportunity to aim away from hole knowing the slope will pull the approach left. 


Behind the green.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: April 02, 2022, 07:14:02 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

BHoover

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2014, 09:33:35 PM »
I wonder why we don't hear more about this place because it looks spectacular from the photos. Looking forward to seeing the rest of the tour.

Scott Warren

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2014, 10:19:54 PM »
Interesting to see how a young course matures. The Renaissance Club certainly appears to have narrowed, which is shame as the likes of the now 4th, 5th and 16th especially were made special by the ample width and abundance of difficult shots from an easy lie - on approach and around the greens.

Here's a few of the same shots from May 2010 (my pics) and June 2014 (Sean's and James's).

Approach to the 1st (old 4th)


Approach to 4th (old 7th)


Approach to the 7th (old 10th)

Tom_Doak

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty
« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2014, 02:39:26 AM »
Sean:

Interesting that you liked the trees behind the 7th as those are the only ones still left that I've thought about removing.  Without them you are looking right up toward the 8th green.  But, the depth perception would be MUCH more difficult since you often can't see much or any of the green surface on the 7th when playing an approach.

Sean_A

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty New
« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2014, 03:15:02 AM »
Renaissance Tour Cont.

Tom

The trees are keepers for me because they are lovely, separate and distinguished from each other and provide aiming points.  The 8th doesn't need any visual help to distinguish its quality; it is the best hole on a great course.   In my groups there was some talk of making it a par 5, but having thought on it, I think this would be a shame.  The hole is effectively a par 5 for most golfers anyway and as a long 4 with a difficult green it provides some meat for the better players.  Should a guy like me happen to hit a good drive, the hole is reachable because the ground game is in play.  More tree removal and to my mind it was a mistake. Before and after. 




The only issue I have with this hole is, predictably, the rough.  I could be wrong, but I think there used to be an approach from the right which could be played between the centreline and right hand bunkers.  Now, there is little subtlety to the drive and one must carry the centreline bunker to reach and hold the green from the middle of the fairway.  Below are the two views.




The magnificent green.  Before and after from rear of the green. 




Backtracking to the tee.  One of the best features of the routing are the many loops.  Its often very difficult to create two loops of 9, but when there are loops of 1-18, 1-15, 6-18, 16-18, 6-15, 1-5, 1-2, 3-5 and 3-15 which start near the house the idea of 9 hole runs is soon forgotten.  Is there a club which has better access to its course than Renaissance?

More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: May 03, 2022, 01:42:16 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty
« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2014, 03:24:28 AM »
I think those trees behind seven should go...

The long view up eight to the horizon beyond - in tandem with the perception issues - would improve the aesthetic... Minimum impact would be the two trees directly behind the pin (which are not the prettiest anyway) and maximum right back to the tree line at the rear on both sides...

That's my opinion from one photo and three site visits... Not that you asked for it...

Great photos by the way, Sean... I looked out mine from 2008 to show the contrast in width but we were playing on a day when the haar had rolled in so they aren't worth posting...

Michael Wharton-Palmer

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty
« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2014, 09:26:05 AM »
I am a keeper on the trees behind seven.
Essentail in lining up the appraoach shot for most people who are not able to get closer to the green in two shots, or for those who can who may fall foul to roygh and or bunkers along the way!

I thought the overall tree control was fabulous and resisted any temptation to translate the property into a pure links land project which in my opinion would have been a disservice to the ioverall landform.

The 'old' holes which are now excellent practice holes are great holes and could easily be incororatedin to a composite like routing at any time.

Number 6 reminded me of the short par three at Streamsong, its length belies its bite ;D

Frank Pont

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty
« Reply #19 on: July 01, 2014, 09:55:05 AM »
Sean:

Interesting that you liked the trees behind the 7th as those are the only ones still left that I've thought about removing.  Without them you are looking right up toward the 8th green.  But, the depth perception would be MUCH more difficult since you often can't see much or any of the green surface on the 7th when playing an approach.
I'm with Tom on this one, the infinite view would make hole 7 even better.

In general I would not mind if more trees would go between 7,8 and 14,15.

Sean_A

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty
« Reply #20 on: July 01, 2014, 01:49:42 PM »
Generally I like the idea of seeing forward in the round, but I do think #7 feels very different from the remainder of the course and that is partly down to trees.  As I like variety above all else, well, you get it. Interesting that the archies want the trees to go, but two avid golfers want them for their practicality. 

Renaissance Tour Cont.

How often do we encounter two great holes on the trot?  The new 9th is not only great, it is at once beautiful and intimidating.  Its not often I go for long 3s, but this one is special. The green does swing left some, but not as much as the photo suggests.


That brings us to the back nine and the much talked about 10th.  Set in a stunning location, it is not hard to be inspired by the beauty of the 10th. However, the hole didn't thrill me nearly as much as it did others.  My issues are three-fold.  First, the long walk back to the tee is set below the fairway so there is no view of the landing zone unless one bails right.  Second, the rough line down the right comes too close to the green.  The green slopes fairly hard left and I reckon at least five more yards of fairway up the right would make for a more reasonable approach.  As it is now, many people hit up the right and watch the ball roll forever off the green left. Third, given the width of the fairway, the green is a bit too much; a thought never far from my mind.  I would have liked to see some greens which dullards could label dull, meaning there is enough interest present for those who care to notice.  My opinion will be controversial, but the hole didn't click with me anywhere to the degree of #9.   




Behind the green.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: April 04, 2022, 12:42:07 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Frank Pont

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty
« Reply #21 on: July 01, 2014, 02:45:14 PM »
I'm with Sean on hole 10, even though the setting is stunning I wasn't crazy about the hole for the same reasons he mentions.

Shortening the hole by bringing the tees forward and higher could solve some of the issues: the long walk back to the tees, the poor view of the fairway and the tough shot into the green. It would make the hole a driveable par 4 of around 300 yards, with hardly a walk back tot the tees, a good view of the fairway from the tees and a shorter approach giving the player more chances to stay on the green.

Would be a cheap solution too, and you could try it out by playing from a mat 30 yards behind the current Ladies tees (see view below)......

« Last Edit: July 01, 2014, 03:00:30 PM by Frank Pont »

Brett Hochstein

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty
« Reply #22 on: July 01, 2014, 03:17:15 PM »
Sean:

Interesting that you liked the trees behind the 7th as those are the only ones still left that I've thought about removing.  Without them you are looking right up toward the 8th green.  But, the depth perception would be MUCH more difficult since you often can't see much or any of the green surface on the 7th when playing an approach.
I'm with Tom on this one, the infinite view would make hole 7 even better.

In general I would not mind if more trees would go between 7,8 and 14,15.

Maybe start with notching out one of them.  The one second from left (ironically the healthiest one in Scott Warren's photos) feels like the best candidate.  Opens a peekaboo from the left center of the fairway but still gives a sense of depth and backdrop behind the big falloff front right.  It does seem a little harsh having a partially/fully blind green with no sense of where it might lie past the foreground.
"From now on, ask yourself, after every round, if you have more energy than before you began.  'Tis much more important than the score, Michael, much more important than the score."     --John Stark - 'To the Linksland'

http://www.hochsteindesign.com

Neil White

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Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty
« Reply #23 on: July 01, 2014, 04:05:07 PM »
10 definitely has a sense of 'nearly but not quite' to it, especially off the tee for the reasons Sean raises but Tom was restricted to what could and couldn't be done regarding the tees......

Personally I thought the walk from the 9th green to the tee gave you the opportunity to work out your line - as you made your way down your clear view of the fairway gradually disappeared until you could only see the immediate short right portion of and the top of the mound that acts as a retainer / kicker in the middle of the fairway - should everything be laid out for you to see?  It also heightened the sense of anticipation after hitting your drive.

This photo shows the mound that also helps to provide a more level lie for those finding the right side of the fairway.



Whilst the green could be considered too severe - the front left portion particularly is very steep - it was set up perfectly for those prepared to take the drive on - although like Sean I would have preferred to see the shoulder of rough that juts into the fairway short of the green eased back a touch to give more of an option to run the ball on.  In it's current state those clearing this rough find that their ball caroms over the back of the green.
Courses played 2020 - ................!

Greg Taylor

Re: RENAISSANCE CLUB - A Heathland(?) Beauty
« Reply #24 on: July 01, 2014, 04:26:05 PM »
Sean I must be reading too many of your reviews because I am starting to agree with your comments!

I played the RC six months ago with some good golfers and #10 ate us all up. Once you go right on your drive recovery is very difficult - either soften the rough or move the green site was my throw away comment en route to the 12th tee.

+1 on the trees on the 7th - keep them, no question.

Greg

« Last Edit: July 01, 2014, 04:28:12 PM by Greg T »

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