A card of the course from sometime between 1895 and 1906.
1862: Quarry on #2 filled in.
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; 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 Gate Hole green. 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.
1943: Air Ministry use #s 9 &10 as an armaments range.
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.
We sometimes forget how beautiful North Berwick is.
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 bridle path. There is also evidence the bunker once had sleepers in the face.
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 original 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 place where the green slopes away to the rocks and beach".
A painting by K Reed.
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.
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 photo below is prior to the extension of the clubhouse. It appears as if the green isn't raised as is the case today.
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? 2* 2023
Whatever you do when in East Lothian, be sure to visit Mr Baird's museum. vimeo.com/78474720