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
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 look 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.