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Sean_A

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North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« on: January 24, 2008, 03:26:32 PM »
Patric Dickinson's A Round of Golf Courses is a fascinating read.  I strongly encourage anyone who doesn't own the book to purchase it immediately - mine is not for sale.  In my latest perusal I took notice of North Berwick's card as it stood in 1950/1951ish.  There are some interesting changes in par from today's card.  Before I start into that let me begin by stating that yardage of the course has only increased by 49 yards AND for such a famous links it was still considered fairly easy back in the day.  

Instead of lengthening the course par has been reduced by 3 shots from the back tees with the 8th being considerably easier related to par from the back tees as a par 5 of 495 yards compared to par 4 of 462 yards.  

#3 Trap is the same yardage, but now a par 4.

#16 Gate is 20 yards less at 381 and a par 4.

#17 Point Garry In has been reduced by 45 yards and is now a par 4.

It is also VERY interesting to note that #s 8 & 16 were both par 5s near or less than the yardage of #2 which was 432 yards in Dickinson's day.  I don't believe I have ever come across this before.  Before folks go on about the wind, #s 8 & 16 head in different directions and #16 was ONLY 400 yards long.  Does anybody think that green had something to do with par??????  Furthermore, the powers that be have reduced the length of this hole by some 20 yards AND it is still a wicked approach even with modern technology.  

Perhaps the 16th was meant to be a risk/reward hole as a par 5 with the layup still being quite difficult to stay right near the oob so the length of the hole is on view.  On the other hand, if the pin was up front, perhaps the big hitters could go for the green and not be in a bad position long to chip back up the length of the green to the front hole location.  This sudden realization of how the hole may have been meant to be played fascinates me.

Jeepers!
 

Anyway, to my next discovery - to myself anyway.  Reading Hutchinson's account in 1897 of the newly expanded course doesn't at all jive with Dickinson's score card.  I realize that Ben Sayers made some changes in the 1930s, but they seem to have been confined to the far side (new bit) of the course.  

Hutch claims the 9th was a drive and an iron and a bit boring to boot.  Did Sayers put the green much further back and into the dune making this a par 5?  Who built the brilliant centreline bunker which brings the oob wall into play for those wanting to reach in 2?

Hutch claims the 10th was a drive and a pitch with the green surrounded by bunkers.  Did Sayers make this a par 3?  I am guessing a new green was built.  Is this the case and did Sayers build it?  

Hutch claims the 11th was a drive and iron shot.  Did Sayers make this a par 5 and a good one at that?  I spose the green could be from the 1897 course, but it doesn't sound like it - green lies in a hollow, with run in from all sides."  

Hutch claims the 12th was a drive , brassie and often a pitch.  This suggests a hole of about 400ish yards.  There was meant to be some sort of quarry behind the green.  I don't recall such a feature, though it could be well grown in by now.  

Hutch claims the 13th was a drive and a pitch - sounds shorter than the 350 yards of Dickinson's time.  

Anybody have ideas or comments?

Ciao

 
 

« Last Edit: January 24, 2008, 03:32:06 PM by Sean Arble »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash

Jeff_Mingay

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Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2008, 04:17:21 PM »
I'm quite frustrated and disappointed to admit I haven't visited North Berwick-West yet, Sean. It's at the top of my "to see" list though; and, I hope to get there this year.

All I can say, relative to your post is: That 16th green is unbelievably amazing. I'd love to find out its history; particularly who constructed it, how and why? The photo you've posted suggests there's some fill involved, which in turn, suggests it's a brilliant work of genuine golf course architecture!  

Great stuff.
jeffmingay.com

Tom_Doak

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Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2008, 04:22:13 PM »
Sean:

I think the perception of #16 had everything to do with the burn across the fairway.  In the old days they assumed most players would have to lay up, so they put the tee a bit further back ... and if you lay up you have about 180 into that green, so you could call that a par five.

I wonder exactly when that was changed?  It was certainly called a par 4 when I first saw it in 1982, but I didn't remember carrying the burn with ease back then ... maybe it was still 20 yards longer and it wasn't so easy to get over.

I am sure that the turn-of-the-century course did not go out as far as the current ninth green ... I assumed it went from 8 tee toward 10 green somehow, but I have never tried to piece it together in detail.  I believe someone told me the current par-3 tenth green is Colt's ... it looks like it could be, anyway.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2008, 04:24:01 PM by Tom_Doak »

Sean_A

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Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2008, 06:35:03 PM »
Sean:

I think the perception of #16 had everything to do with the burn across the fairway.  In the old days they assumed most players would have to lay up, so they put the tee a bit further back ... and if you lay up you have about 180 into that green, so you could call that a par five.

I wonder exactly when that was changed?  It was certainly called a par 4 when I first saw it in 1982, but I didn't remember carrying the burn with ease back then ... maybe it was still 20 yards longer and it wasn't so easy to get over.

I am sure that the turn-of-the-century course did not go out as far as the current ninth green ... I assumed it went from 8 tee toward 10 green somehow, but I have never tried to piece it together in detail.  I believe someone told me the current par-3 tenth green is Colt's ... it looks like it could be, anyway.

Thats interesting about 16.  I assumed folks couldn't really reach the burn 100 or so years ago, but then this is assuming the tee is on the current side of the wall.  I seem to recall having to hit a good one to clear the burn in normalish conditions my first go round NB some 17 years ago.  This last time that thought was still in mind, but it was a very easy carry leaving a wedge to the green - still a very difficult approach though!  Can anyone think of a hole that plays over a wall, a burn and to such a wild green as 16?  When you place it in perspective it really is a crazy hole.  

I believe you are right about the 9th green - it was done after the 1897 changes.  I assumed the 10th started from somewhere in the flat of the current 9th, perhaps just beyond the current centreline bunker to a green not dissimilar to the one which exists today, but maybe further toward the town end of the course and perhaps slightly more toward the middle of the course.  

Reading between the lines, it seems clear that Dickinson had a love/hate relationship with North Berwick.  Was North Berwick included just because it was famous?  In any case, the sketch that illustrates Pit is marvelous!  The three failed attempts to clear the wall with "(pick up or throw)" is hilariously accurate.

Ciao

New plays planned for 2022: Erewash

Paul Sinclair

Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2008, 11:17:16 PM »
One of the regular and esteemed contributors on this site is to send me a copy of the Patric Dickinson book. I can't wait to receive it.

Having played North Berwick with a couple of the locals - both of whom were absolute charmers - it is one of my most enjoyable golf rounds ever. And like all you guys on here, I have played a lot of enjoyable rounds at some wonderful places. A just completed renovation at my home course incorporates a new Redan inspired hole and I am absolutely thrilled about that.

Michael Whitaker

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Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2008, 12:01:53 AM »
Can anyone think of a hole that plays over a wall, a burn and to such a wild green as 16?  When you place it in perspective it really is a crazy hole.

Can anyone think of a hole with such a green, much less the wall and burn. It is, indeed, a crazy hole. Every time I have played there I've had a member tell me that they are not in love with the 16th green, but that the infamous nature of it prevents anyone from ever suggesting it should be changed.

It is true that the West Links would not be the same experience at all without the 16th green. Has anything been written on how it came to be?
« Last Edit: January 25, 2008, 12:04:44 AM by Michael Whitaker »
"Solving the paradox of proportionality is the heart of golf architecture."  - Tom Doak (11/20/05)

Philippe Binette

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Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2008, 05:54:52 PM »
you got to love 16th green at North Berwick...

green in regulation percentage: probably 2% maybe less, I still haven't figure out a way to hit that green (or find an easy spot for the 3rd shot)

Mike_Cirba

Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2008, 10:17:35 PM »
Does anyone have anything resembling the architectural history of North Berwick?

Tom Doak's mention of Colt is certainly intriguing.

I would love to see someone layout what is known definitively about the evolution of the course and the men/architects involved (as well as the timeframe) as closely as is possible.

Anyone feel up to the task?

Rich Goodale

Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2008, 02:57:29 AM »
Mike

I've got access to a club history which talks a bit about the architectural history (remember that thread of mine on the time in the Redan's history when it was a 240-yard short par 4?).  It's pretty sketchy, though.  I looked at it again yesterday re: the 16th.  All it says of relevance is that the green had only one plateau up until 1895 when the second (further) one was added.  The hole is listed at 380 then, which would probably be a par 5 in the guttie days.

Rich

Dan King

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Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2008, 03:04:19 AM »
Here is something I posted last year in a discussion with Rihc about the Redan. It deals with some of the architectural changes prior to the twentieth century.

I think what we need is a timeline of The Redan, The teeing area, the course itself and C.B. Macdonald. Part of the problem seems to be we don't have enough surviving information about the nine hole course that existed when Macdonald first came to North Berwick. It seems highly unlikely the Redan ever played anywhere near 266 yards, as almost everything written about it through the various configurations calls it a one-shot hole. It isn't clear if the 266 is an exaggeration or a typo.

1790 First record of golf played on the West Links.

1832 North Berwick Golf Club founded. Around this time a six hole course was laid out only going as far west as the March Dyke (close to the western points of today's third and 16th holes.) The North Berwick Golf Club agree to play by the St. Andrews Rules (except for a special rules for removing stones within the Quarry.)

1858 R&A rule: Tee off between six and eight club lengths of previous hole.

1868 or 1870 (conflicting dates) North Berwick expanded from seven to nine holes. The Gasworks hole, then the short sixth hole was eliminated and probably the Redan was added as the sixth hole. According to an eye-witness account by Mr. Edward L.I. Blyth, the new holes to make the course nine holes were three new holes south of the existing holes. Perfection would have been the fourth hole, the fifth hole: a short hole to the southwest corner (where the fourth hole on the Ladies course will later be) and the Redan. So the Redan was a short hole from the fifth hole (that no longer exists) to the Redan giving the shot to the green more from the southwest than the current shot from the northwest.  

1872 C.B. Macdonald plays golf on the nine hole course at North Berwick.

1875 R&A rules allow Conservators to build special teeing grounds. Otherwise, players required to tee off within eight to twelve club lengths from previous hole. It is unclear if a teeing ground for Redan was built then or closer to 1882.

1877 North Berwick expanded from nine holes to 18 holes, to Eli Burn. The Redan would have now been the 15th hole, but it is unclear where the 14th hole (Alps/Perfection or the former fifth hole?) was then so it is unclear how far the shot was to the Redan hole, or if there was a teeing ground.

1882 R&A rules changed, with all teeing ground now marked with markers -- no longer within a specific distance of previous hole.

1895 North Berwick expanded similar to the current configuration. The distance for the Redan is listed as 266 yards, but that seems to be an exaggeration by close to 100 yards. In a pro tournament there shortly after opening the expanded course, half of the scores to The Redan for the top finishers were 3s. Ben Sayers later that fall sets the course record 75, making a two on the 15th hole.

1899 Arthur James Balfour becomes captain of the North Berwick Golf Club, giving the West Links added fame.

1901 London Golf Illustrated publishes "Best Hole Discussion" listing the Redan as the second best one-shoter in Great Britain.

1902 C.B. Macdonald returns to Great Britain to "gather material, ventilating my original idea with various old golfing friends."

1906 C.B. Macdonald makes another trip to Europe, four months, returning with surveyors' maps "of the most famous holes: the Alps, Redan, Eden, and the Road Hole."

1908 The National Golf Links of America incorporated.

Cheers,
Dan King
Quote
Of course I'll give you $1,000. The golf that you have taught me has saved me that much a year in doctors' bills, and I am perfectly confident it will add years to my life."
 --Robert T. Lincoln to C.B. Macdonald with a $1,000 subscription for the National golf Links of America.

Rich Goodale

Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2008, 05:19:50 AM »
Here is something I posted last year in a discussion with Rihc about the Redan. It deals with some of the architectural changes prior to the twentieth century.

1877 North Berwick expanded from nine holes to 18 holes, to Eli Burn. The Redan would have now been the 15th hole, but it is unclear where the 14th hole (Alps/Perfection or the former fifth hole?) was then so it is unclear how far the shot was to the Redan hole, or if there was a teeing ground.

Dan

The club history clarifies this, and I think I posted a diagram on the old thread to support the follwoing.  In 1877 what is now perfection was two holes, High Bent (including a feature called "Alps" at 180 and (Old) Perfection at 175.  they were merged to make today's hole.  The green was between the current 14th and the current 15th tee.  Redan was 210 in those days.

Cheers

Rich

Mike_Cirba

Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2008, 09:46:34 AM »
Thanks Dan and Rihc!

Chris Burgard

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Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2008, 03:09:00 PM »

Rich,

From the routing, it appears that the tee for High Bent was left of 13 green and over the dune which is behind said green creating a blind par 3 given the remark about the "Alps" feature.

It also seems as though the former Perfection tee was in front of the "Alps" of the current 14th hole and had the green located behind the wall.

Is this correct?? If so, both sound like very fun holes in their own right.

Chris

Sean_A

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Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2008, 03:54:47 PM »

Rich,

From the routing, it appears that the tee for High Bent was left of 13 green and over the dune which is behind said green creating a blind par 3 given the remark about the "Alps" feature.

It also seems as though the former Perfection tee was in front of the "Alps" of the current 14th hole and had the green located behind the wall.

Is this correct?? If so, both sound like very fun holes in their own right.

Chris

Chris & Rich  

I believe the "Alps" back in 1897 referred to dune which must be hit over for the approach to current 14th (Perfect).  There is a very clear picture of this approach in Hutch's British Golf Links.  The caption states "North Berwick Links - The Alps - Driving to Perfection Hole". This would imply that the golfers are teeing off.  However, they are not 175 yards away.  I am guessing its 150 tops from that position.  One can only assume that the previous hole teed up on top of the dune (High Bent?) left of the current Pit green and played to a green somewhere on the current Perfection fairway.  

The NB website states that after the 1895 redo no hole was under 243 yards long.  However, I think we had surmised that Redan's length was shortened before a professional tournament was held there shortly after the 1895 redo.

Rich, the 16th was listed as a 400 yard par 5 in 1950ish!  So it makes sense to be a par 5 some 50 years previously.  

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash

Chris Burgard

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Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2008, 05:25:35 PM »
Hi Sean,

In the routing plan of 1877 from the other thread, the teeing ground seems to be in an area behind the dune in the back of the Pit. I don't remember such an area so I have to assume that it has since eroded.

I just reviewed Famous Golf Links in which Hutchinson called High Bent "a leap in the dark for a stranger". This seems to support the idea of this hole being blind from the tee.

Cheers!
Chris

Sean_A

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Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2008, 06:42:10 PM »
Hi Sean,

In the routing plan of 1877 from the other thread, the teeing ground seems to be in an area behind the dune in the back of the Pit. I don't remember such an area so I have to assume that it has since eroded.

I just reviewed Famous Golf Links in which Hutchinson called High Bent "a leap in the dark for a stranger". This seems to support the idea of this hole being blind from the tee.

Cheers!
Chris

Chris

I don't recall an area big enough for a tee on the far side of Pit without going on a dune, but the tee could have literally been off the back off the green which probably makes the drive blind.  It is very strange that they wouldn't go on top of the dune though, if its right there.  I spose it seems strange to me from a modern perspective.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash

Melvyn Morrow

Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2008, 07:09:52 PM »
Cant add much more apart from the following which I believe comes from The Golfers Guide circa mid 1890s (1895-6).  Hope it helps.

Starts

North Berwick All those who have a kindly feeling towards bonny North Berwick will be glad to hear that the links have at last been extended, so as to bring them more into line with other leading greens. It is rather interesting to read of the different stages in the development of this famous course. It began with a modest seven holes it was over this comparatively baby green that the famous match between Alan and Old Tom and the brothers Dunn took place in 1849 which by and by grew to nine, twelve, eighteen. But in the last case, the shortness of the holes gave little scope for anything like decent driving. The last drawback has at last been remedied. We have not the space to give a full detail of the recent improvements, but to those who already know the green it will probably be sufficient to note that the plantation at the low bend, which has caused so much woe in the past, has repented of its evil-doing, and a sufficient clearance been effected to permit of less anxious play. Some of the short holes have been done away with by the annexation of a considerable tract beyond the burn at the tenth hole. The start will be from the same point as before, and the play toward Pointgarry. The first alteration is in wiping out the old third hole, while the play is carried over the dyke to the new third in the trap. The angle hole is omitted, and the fourth in now what was formerly known as the low bent. Going out, a cutting has been made in the wood, and to the fifth hole play is straight from the low bent. The quarry hole is as before, but the putting green on the seventh is now beyond the burn. Then come the four new holes. On the homeward journey, the high bent hole has been left out, and play is from the thirteenth to perfection; and thence to the home hole there is no alteration.

Ends

Chris Burgard

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Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2008, 05:44:18 AM »
Quote

Chris

I don't recall an area big enough for a tee on the far side of Pit without going on a dune, but the tee could have literally been off the back off the green which probably makes the drive blind.  It is very strange that they wouldn't go on top of the dune though, if its right there.  I spose it seems strange to me from a modern perspective.

Ciao
Quote

Hi Sean,

I will try to be careful in this post as it is 4:45 EST in North America after I have had more than a couple of pints. I will admit to having only played the West twice in my life and both in 2007.

I am trying to figure out why you are applying a "modern perspective" to holes that I believe were altered between 1877 and 1891.

That being said...NB West was perhaps the most fun I have ever had playing golf and my trip included Dornoch, TOC, Muirfield, Turnberry and Cruden.

I will fully admit that I am far from an authority on Berwick. My second round last year on the West was so foggy that I do not have any pictures of merit and would likely not have been allowed to play if I hadn't played earlier that morning and had a vague concept of the course.

If you don't recall a large enough area behind the Pit green, please understand that I do not remember such an area either and I am suggesting that erosion has removed this ground. The routings posted on the earlier thread are fascinating to me as is the current aerial photo and that is what I am basing my suppositions on.

I am fully aware that this may be an unconventional view which is based on historical drawings. Further, my thoughts are in contravention of TDs Confidential Guide. I love the 1st which is a ? in that book. Your initial shot may be anything from a 5 iron to a 3 wood depending on the wind, but make sure your second is very precise.

The 7th is an outstanding short par 4 where the second shot is pure fun is you have left yourself a long enough approach in.

Nine is good par five with a centre-line bunker to a raised green. Ten is a fine par 3 and 12 is a terrific 2 shot hole.

Pit, Perfection, Redan and Gate are 4 terrific holes heading home and 17 and 18 are under-rated.

Even if I am told that my armchair philosophies are wrong about the previous layout of this course are wrong, I hope that I continue to believe in other layouts.


Tony_Muldoon

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Re:North Berwick - The West Links Revisited
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2008, 06:06:25 PM »
Here's Dickinson's drawing of the 13th Green that Sean referred to above.



Perhaps it's not surprising that he doesn't include any tee for the 14th, but WTF is that dark area in the fairway?  A bunker, a whin?  My recollection of the hole is the fairway being crowned and shots too far to the left will roll towards it making the pitch more awkward (at least for those without a 60 degree wedge.).
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