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Sean_A

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NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS New
« on: August 17, 2014, 05:46:12 AM »


1877 Map


1895 Map


A card of the course from sometime between 1895 and 1906.


Winter 1868: The Redan created when course was expanded beyond March Dyke. 

1877: Area around Marine Hotel drained.  16th green raised.  The first tee moved from the eastern end of the Council Putting Green to near the current spot. Was Pit designed then?

December 1877: 10 new holes created by OTM and Davie Strath, now making a total of 18 holes up to Eil Burn. Perfection was a par 3 and Redan was a 2 shot hole; an iron over a wall then a long shot to the green.

1895: Course extended beyond Eil Burn by Tom Anderson Sr with guidance from Green Committee member John McCulloch and Perfection becomes a par 4. The hole orginally had a long cross bunker as on the 17th.  Tom Anderson made a green of the plateau east (back section) of the current green Gate Hole.  It is unclear if they were linked by the swale to make one green.

1896: Tantallon clubhouse purchased from Alex MacKenzie Ross for £1200.

1906: 4th tee moved forward to eliminate cross-over with Redan. 10th tee moved back about 20 yards.

1932: Work by Ben Sayers and Maj CK Hutchison (member of Tantallon); 9th extended and new green; new  par 3 tenth created; new par 5 eleventh created. 

1933: Maj CK Hutchison; 4th shortened and green extended with a narrow rear section (is this Shipka Pass?).  New 5th hole. New 6th green replacing double green beyond Quarry Bunker.  New green for #12. 13th tee moved back 30 yards. 

Map of the course.


Pit, Perfection, Redan and Gate is a celebrated stretch of holes and rightfully so.  It seems inconceivable these 1329 yards of Promised Land could be matched let alone bested.  It is worth noting that the four holes head in more or less the same direction back toward town and the three par 4s are quite similar in length at considerably less than 400 yards.  Yet, no one could charge these holes as being remotely alike.  That in essence is the lure of North Berwick; inexplicably the West Links takes all manner of risks and delivers at every turn. 



















The bunker short of the rise was at one time difficult even for the likes of Ben Sayers.
























Let us not, however, be so zealous in our extolment of the Four Laudables of Lothian so as to minimize the role of the West Links’ supporting cast.  The 2nd (Sea), 4th (Carlkemp), 9th (Mizzentop) and 17th (Point Garry in) provide plenty of relatively orthodox and excellent underpinning at critical junctures in the round. 

The second...with its beach in play.






Sir John Lavery 1922 water colour of the 4th.


Point Garry In (17th)






Evidence that the trench bunker shy of the 17th green was a path.


There are also several surprises which can often be overlooked in our hubbub.  These include the approach to #1, playing over (into, through?) the wall on #3, playing over water on #s 6 &7, the short 10th, Bass Rock, the approach to 12 and lastly, the reachable finishing hole as homage to The Old Course replete with misadventure down the entire right flank.  Let there be no ambiguity, these holes are the essential rhythm section North Berwick.   

Point Garry Out (1st) aerial highlighting the orginal shared nature of 1 & 18 fairways with a sandy path encircling 1 & 17 green and 2 & 18 tees. The double green of 1 & 17 was described by B Darwin as a "Terrible palce where the green slopes away to the rocks and beach".   






Ben Sayers at the 1st (which would have been the 17th in his day).  The caddie looks to be the same as in the photo below.  I suspect these are photos of a match between Sayers and Grant.


D Grant negotiating a stymie on the 17th green (the 1st today). Notice the size of the beach. It looks like the 1st would have played much more like a dogleg right than is the case today.


A view from 1st green.


3rd




10th


Bass Rock


12th


18th; we can still see the outline of the sandy path which I expect connected with the bunker short of the 17th green.




18th...1899 match between H Vardon & Willie Park Jr; photo taken from 15 Beach Rd...W Park Jr's residence.


The names, yes, the golfers associated with North Berwick conjure up images of a more fundamental time in the history of the game.


The Tantallon house today.






Ben Sayers, always the bridesmaid, never the bride. 


Robert Maxwell, winner of the Amateur in 1903 and 1909.  Leading Amateur at the Open four times. 


And of course, the beauty of the town adjacent to sea and links is rarely mentioned, but ever present. Below is the beach off Church Road.


Old Parish Church on Kirk Ports.


1960s postcard of Quality Street.


This most recent visit to North Berwick incontestably demonstrated the magnitude of the West Links. Can there possibly be another course whose fixins’ fuse in perfect harmony as on and at the West Links?  It is a shame the clubs don't have proper control over the links as some of the narrowest fairways in the UK can be found on the links and other recent works have conspired to reduce the quality of this admirable design.  1*  2020

Whatever you do when in East Lothian, be sure to visit Mr Baird's museum. 

vimeo.com/78474720

Ran's Review.
http://golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/scotland/northberwick1/

Ciao
« Last Edit: July 24, 2022, 01:21:18 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Emil Weber

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Re: NORTH BERWICK West Links - My First 3*
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2014, 06:11:23 AM »
Sean,

wonderful words and photos! There is nothing I can add or say against them, often looking back to some great memories there.

If North Berwick is a 3* for you (I guess 3 is the highest then), how do you "rank" Prestwick? They are similar courses in character and quality, but I could go on forever comparing them. North Berwick obviously has more of a holiday feel than Prestwick. But while Prestwick too has unparalleled, unique holes that you describe at NB (1,3,5,13,15,17 I would say at PW), it has the much stronger "normal" holes for me. I love 4,9,10,11,12 and 16 for example and think they are very good holes far away from exotic blind shots.

Maybe I am really biased here, because I've had kind of a home and many rounds at PW, but for me PW is at least a 3*, too.

Cheers


Sean_A

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3* New
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2014, 06:38:35 AM »
Cheers Emil

Yes, like Michelin, 3* is as high as I go.  Also like Michelin, any star or recommendation is very good. 

Prestwick for me is a 2* (I am planning on a return visit next summer).

Ciao
« Last Edit: December 21, 2019, 05:13:53 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Jud_T

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2014, 07:47:21 AM »
Sean,

Thanks for posting.  Probably the course I'm sorriest to have missed when I was in country...
Golf is a game. We play it. Somewhere along the way we took the fun out of it and charged a premium to be punished.- - Ron Sirak

Mark Bourgeois

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2014, 09:00:15 AM »
Sean,

And what is the real lesson here, hmm hmm?
Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. James. Grace. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Allison.

Bill_McBride

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2014, 09:14:22 AM »
I may have played in the most ignominious four ball ever to play the third at North Berwick, as we all hit the wall with our second shots.   :P

In a previous round I had the joy of knocking a 6 iron onto the second ("Sea") green from the beach.   ;D

I'm with Sean, North Berwick West is in my personal top five.  Can't wait to play there in May 2015!

Michael Whitaker

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2014, 09:20:02 AM »
Sean,

You said, "Pit, Perfection, Redan and Gate is perhaps the most famous stretch of holes in golf and rightfully so. "

I don't agree. The vast majority of golfers... VAST majority... have never heard of these holes. The vast majority have never heard of North Berwick.

I had lunch this week with the head professional at one of our areas most highly regarded courses. He is originally from England, only 15 years removed from the greater Manchester area. He was not familiar with St Enodoc or Perranporth, our Buda courses, or Bernham & Berrow.

We are truly part of a very small universe of golfers!  
"Solving the paradox of proportionality is the heart of golf architecture."  - Tom Doak (11/20/05)

Bill_McBride

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2014, 10:13:52 AM »
Sean,

You said, "Pit, Perfection, Redan and Gate is perhaps the most famous stretch of holes in golf and rightfully so. "

I don't agree. The vast majority of golfers... VAST majority... have never heard of these holes. The vast majority have never heard of North Berwick.

I had lunch this week with the head professional at one of our areas most highly regarded courses. He is originally from England, only 15 years removed from the greater Manchester area. He was not familiar with St Enodoc or Perranporth, our Buda courses, or Bernham & Berrow.

We are truly part of a very small universe of golfers!  

Small but fortunate!

Thomas Dai

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2014, 12:49:13 PM »
Very nice and most interesting. Do you have any further photos of the holes taken from alternative angles, especially around the greens, that you could post?
atb

Steve Salmen

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2014, 12:55:52 PM »
Sean,

I think 12 and 17 are excellent holes, 10 and 11 are very good.  I once admitted my disappointment with #18 to some locals when I was younger and their extremely polite response was, "but it's a greeaaat hole fur settlin bets."

Tom_Doak

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2014, 12:59:58 PM »
Sean,

I think 12 and 17 are excellent holes, 10 and 11 are very good.  I once admitted my disappointment with #18 to some locals when I was younger and their extremely polite response was, "but it's a greeaaat hole fur settlin bets."

The 18th is a wonderful hole to play in the dark at the end of the day [which I must have done a half-dozen times by now].  You have the lighted clock at the clubhouse to aim at, nothing but short grass so you can find your ball unless you've blocked it into the cars on the right, and you will always be close enough to the green to see what you are doing for your second shot.

Michael Whitaker

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2014, 01:45:54 PM »
The 18th is a wonderful hole to play in the dark at the end of the day [which I must have done a half-dozen times by now].  You have the lighted clock at the clubhouse to aim at, nothing but short grass so you can find your ball unless you've blocked it into the cars on the right, and you will always be close enough to the green to see what you are doing for your second shot.

And, if you hit a car you can sneak away without anyone knowing the culprit!  ;)
« Last Edit: August 17, 2014, 03:02:25 PM by Michael Whitaker »
"Solving the paradox of proportionality is the heart of golf architecture."  - Tom Doak (11/20/05)

Andrew Moss

Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2014, 02:16:49 PM »
Wonderful golf course!! It's just great fun to play, whenever we're in Scotland we always make a beeline for it.

Re the 18th, I agree with the last few posts, I go so far left to avoid the cars my 2nd is invariably a nightmare!! I still have never parred this hole, one of my personal golfing disappointments. My mate has hit cars twice and he visibly shakes on the tee!!! Haha

Play this course if at all possible, it's a beauty.

Malcolm Mckinnon

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2014, 03:46:42 PM »
I was there on Wednesday with fellow GCA host Tony Muldoon.

Played through a persistent two club wind, against going out and with coming back. The narrow cross over area with the par three fourth hole and the fourteenth hole "Perfection" works as a Venturi as the wind velocity accelerates through the narrow passage.

What a fantastic golf course! What lovely views! Heaven!

Malcolm Mckinnon

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2014, 04:26:55 PM »
"We are truly part of a very small universe of golfers! "

Michael,

I pray that we remain so, and we are so much the richer for it!!

Malcolm

Mark Pearce

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2014, 06:06:22 PM »
It's a great course but I'm with Emil, Prestwick is better and more fun.
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Ed Brzezowski

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2014, 07:05:15 PM »
Made a par off a Saabs front fender last time there.  Such a special place, took a few guys there last year and the smiling never stopped.
We have a pool and a pond, the pond would be good for you.

mike_beene

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2014, 01:14:59 AM »
Is the drive over the beach 2 or 3? The few times I have played it I am overwhelmed by the blind first green, the beach and the wall. Sensory overload until you head inland  on 4 or 5. Great pictures.

Sean_A

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2014, 04:46:36 AM »
Sean,

I think 12 and 17 are excellent holes, 10 and 11 are very good.  I once admitted my disappointment with #18 to some locals when I was younger and their extremely polite response was, "but it's a greeaaat hole fur settlin bets."

Steve

I missed all the talk about a new bunker on 12.  I think some of the subtlety has been sacrificed.

I agree, 17 is a fine hole, but it would seem I am quite dangerous there.  I consistently pull my driver near (or on!) the beach.  Imagine if that hole played to the beach-side of what should be a double green with 1? 

Does anybody else think that given the green-site, #1 should be a better hole?  If so, do you think making it a longish par 3 is the trick?

Ciao
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 05:33:24 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Rich Goodale

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2014, 09:22:14 AM »
Sean

17 and 1 used to be a double green with (I think, but could be Muccianly Wrong) the hole positions reversed.  If so the 2nd to the 17th would have been a great 2nd shot Redannish opportunity (with the added benefit of allowing your leftist-tendency tee shots to be rewarded), and the 2nd to the 1st a cool Alpsish hole rather than the goofy golf hole that we play today.

Rich

PS--3***???  You are either deprived and/or depraved......

j-p p
Life is good.

Any afterlife is unlikely and/or dodgy.

Jean-Paul Parodi

Simon Holt

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #20 on: August 18, 2014, 09:31:40 AM »
Sean,

Now you have become more familiar with the course, what are your thoughts on the 3rd?  I remember you once said in a thread that you thought it was a long slog with an uninteresting flat green at the end of it.

Its not one of my favourite holes on the course but I was always surprised at your description of the green.  I really like it and it has plenty of movement.

12 is my favourite hole, albeit not the "best" hole out there.  The whole back 9 is special as not one hole is anything like the holes that follow or precede them.  Many holes are truly unique unless you are playing a template that has taken inspiration from them.

With regard to 1 and 18:

18 is a great match-play hole, not much more to say.  In stroke-play its a great chance to steal a shot back from the course.  I liken it to a 3-ft putt; you know you should make it...and perhaps thats why people falter here.  The OOB should not be an issue but it always is.

1 has grown on me over the years but I'll never sit here and say its a world-beater.  Its not far off the length of some of the great short 4s in the world and if you think about it, its a good risk-reward hole for the pros.  Again, another good match-play hole, especially as a 19th.
2011 highlights- Royal Aberdeen, Loch Lomond, Moray Old, NGLA (always a pleasure), Muirfield Village, Saucon Valley, watching the new holes coming along at The Renaissance Club.

Mark McKeever

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #21 on: August 18, 2014, 09:33:46 AM »
Brings back memories of a really fun day.  Thanks for sharing!

MM
Best MGA showers - Bayonne

"Dude, he's a total d***"

Eric Smith

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #22 on: August 18, 2014, 10:10:35 AM »


18 is a great match-play hole, not much more to say.  In stroke-play its a great chance to steal a shot back from the course.  I liken it to a 3-ft putt; you know you should make it...and perhaps thats why people falter here.  The OOB should not be an issue but it always is.



I've only played it the one time, there with you Simon, and I will never forget the moment standing on the tee and realizing I had lost my little insurance ticket. All I could think about were the cars lined up down the right hand side! ;D

Rich Goodale

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #23 on: August 18, 2014, 10:13:55 AM »
Sean,

Now you have become more familiar with the course, what are your thoughts on the 3rd?  I remember you once said in a thread that you thought it was a long slog with an uninteresting flat green at the end of it.

Its not one of my favourite holes on the course but I was always surprised at your description of the green.  I really like it and it has plenty of movement.

12 is my favourite hole, albeit not the "best" hole out there.  The whole back 9 is special as not one hole is anything like the holes that follow or precede them.  Many holes are truly unique unless you are playing a template that has taken inspiration from them.

With regard to 1 and 18:

18 is a great match-play hole, not much more to say.  In stroke-play its a great chance to steal a shot back from the course.  I liken it to a 3-ft putt; you know you should make it...and perhaps thats why people falter here.  The OOB should not be an issue but it always is.

1 has grown on me over the years but I'll never sit here and say its a world-beater.  Its not far off the length of some of the great short 4s in the world and if you think about it, its a good risk-reward hole for the pros.  Again, another good match-play hole, especially as a 19th.


Fully agree with you, Simon on the 12th.  Best hole on the course.  Very subtle and very beautiful.

It and the rest of the back nine win the prize for most eclectic 9-hole stretch of good golf in the world.  But great?  Not, IMHO.  Most of the holes are one-trick ponies, with very little subtlety or opportunity for strategy and/or confusion.  As for the first 9, 4 is the only world-class hole on that stretch.

Overall 3 :) :) :) for NB, but not 3***.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2014, 10:22:29 AM by Rich Goodale »
Life is good.

Any afterlife is unlikely and/or dodgy.

Jean-Paul Parodi

Sean_A

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3* New
« Reply #24 on: August 18, 2014, 11:37:14 AM »
Simon

3 is good, helped a bit by the wall.  I think the green is quite good so if I said it was flat I was wrong. 

12 is good, but not special.  I am not sure about the right/left bunkering for the approach and tee shot.  For some reason, I think the hole could be better.  The left/front fallaway section of the green and the bunker seem dis-associated.     

I couldn't agree more that the diversity of the back nine is awesome and I disagree with Rihc, its great, not least because none of the holes are overpowering.  But then I highly value originality - which NB has in spades. 

#1, just an oddball start with a cool greensite.  I can't help but think it makes for a better par 3.  Yes, I like 18.  I have never favoured the ball ache finisher. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: June 22, 2018, 05:20:55 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

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