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Tony_Muldoon

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2014, 04:21:42 PM »
I do love the West Links and agree with what you say but 3*?  It certainly makes my top 10 and one day I hope to find a course that I would rate higher.


I give the first a pass, it mayt not be great but there are at least 3 ways of playing it on a windless day.  
With apologies to two fine gentlemen of GCA, I wil sumarise as follows.
"The Holt" mid iron favouring the right side of fairway, to keep the pin in view.
"The Muldoon", aka hit and hope,  the 4 rescue aimed at the rocks on the bank.  Hope to see the top of the pin for my second.
"The Bonnar" driver aimed at the 18th tee.  Takes the beach and the path out of play but features totally blind second.

Why are the 14th and 17th greens acceptable but the first not?   Until about the 50's the path to the sea was one big sandy hazard full of hoof and tourist prints, and it meant you had to lay up off the tee. Not sure if harder in this case would be better.

The first sets us up nicely for the rest of the day.


However would the course be improved if the following greens had a little more going on?
In the order I would consider them
8





6
5


18


4 (good green but the shaping doesn't fit with the rest?)


Unheraded greens that I would look to for inspiration would be 3, 7 and 12, it really doesn't need any more standout ones.


However it's always a brilliant experience and (once again I state) I just wish more links courses had the figure of 8 routing that keeps you feeling you are close by the sea at all times.


Sean did you take a snap on the 17th tee, with Bass Rock illuminated in the background?  That's always a special moment to me.

« Last Edit: August 19, 2014, 01:19:29 PM by Tony_Muldoon »
Let's make GCA grate again!

James Boon

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #26 on: August 18, 2014, 05:16:06 PM »
Sean,

I suppose it's not surprising that you choose to highlight the run of holes Pit, Perfection, Redan and Gate. I found just now looking back that half of the photos I'd taken on this visit were on those 4 holes alone.

Hopefully some different angles from these photos to keep Thomas Dai happy?

PIT





PERFECTION



REDAN




GATE




While I think about it, here is a link to one of my earlier photo tours, and if you scroll down you will see the old plan of the course which is always of interest!
http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,39703.0.html

Regarding the 12th, unless I've missed someone pointing this out, it used to be a much simpler hole, as described by Tom Doak in the Confidential Guide but the extra bunkers have taken away the subtlety.

I can't really add much more other than to also say how much I love North Berwick.

Cheers,

James
2022 Highlights: Hollinwell (Notts), Brora, Reay, Ganton, Burnham & Berrow, Royal Dornoch, Woodhall Spa, Hallamshire

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

Simon Holt

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #27 on: August 18, 2014, 07:16:54 PM »
I do love the West Links and agree with what you say but 3*?  It certainly makes my top 10 and one day I hope to find a course that I would rate higher.


I give the first a pass, it mayt not be great but there are at least 3 ways of playing it on a windless day. 
With apologies to two fine gentlemen of GCA, I wil sumarise as follows.
"The Holt" mid iron favouring the right side of fairway, to keep the pin in view.
"The Muldoon", aka hit and hope,  the 4 rescue aimed at the rocks on the bank.  Hope to see the top of the pin for my second.
"The Bonar" driver aimed at the 18th tee.  Takes the beach and the path out of play but features totally blind second.

Why are the 14th and 17th greens acceptable but the first not?   Until about the 50's the path to the sea was one big sandy hazard full of hoof and tourist prints, and it meant you had to lay up off the tee. Not sure if harder in this case would be better.

The first sets us up nicely for the rest of the day.


However would the course be improved if the following greens had a little more going on?
In the order I would consider them
8





6
5


18


4 (good green but the shaping doesn't fit with the rest?)


Unheraded greens that I would look to for inspiration would be 3, 7 and 12, it really doesn't need any more standout ones.


However it's always a brilliant experience and (once again I state) I just wish more links courses had the figure of 8 routing that keeps you feeling you are close by the sea at all times.


Sean did you take a snap on the 17th tee, with Bass Rock illuminated in the background?  That's always a special moment to me.



Tony,

I agree with the greens you cite but the 13th may be the flattest of them all.  This raises an obvious point about GCA in general.  The wall is such a distraction that golfers skip along down the 14th without really noticing how uninteresting the green on 13 was.  Its an awesome golf hole, but the green is actually pretty dull.  Everything else about the hole is far from dull.

Using that as an exercise you can work through the holes you have mentioned:-

8.  Its all about the drive.  Extremely narrow fairway where you want to get your drive to be home in two.  Its all about the bunkering so many will forget how flat the green is.....plus its massive.  Kind of like a smaller version of the 9th at The Old Course.  Distance control becomes the challenge for putting, not necessarily reading the breaks.

6.  The distraction here is the bunkering and usually the sucker pin positions that catch us all out.  I might add that this green has more to it than many think; lots of 3 putts out there

5.  An accurate drive is key on this semi-blind tee shot.  The green surrounds here are unusual for North Berwick with the drop offs either side and the mound at the back.  I love the grass bunker to the left of the green, especially if you miss left and the pin is cut left.  Its maintained at a grass height that allows for an aggressive putt, a bump into the upslope, a slingshot through, or try to land a soft one on a firm green and stop it.  The interest from tee to green results in people missing what you rightly point out....simple green.

18.  All about OOB and "the dip" before the green.  Most golfers have to negotiate the valley, many putt out of it, so forget that the green itself is again, pretty tame.

4.  You are absolutely right and I've never thought of the green that way.  Like you say, its a really good green but it is out of character.


Cue controversy. 

The 16th green is also one of the most straightforward to putt on.  Anyone who has the putt we all want to try (through the swale) has no doubt done it for fun, after they have holed out.  In all my playing and caddying rounds I don't think I've seen someone have that putt more than twice.  Hitting the green is the hard part.  If I can class this hole as a Biarritz (chicken and egg?) then the challenge on North Berwick's version is hitting the green.  The angle of the green relative to the golfer's approach is where the difficulty lies on 16, not putting whilst on it.
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.

Tom_Doak

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #28 on: August 18, 2014, 07:21:30 PM »
In addition to the angle, the width of the Gate green at North Berwick is only 1/3 the width of most of the Macdonald and Raynor templates.  It presents some of the toughest recovery shots of any green anywhere to those who miss it ... and most everyone misses it!

Simon, what % of the time do you think you actually hit and hold the green on 16?

Bill_McBride

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #29 on: August 18, 2014, 07:29:43 PM »
The first time I played North Berwick, a very good caddy told me that the secret to putts from one half of the Gate green to the other, through the swale, is to play the putt as if it were straight.   We tried a few and he was right, all the breaks canceled each other out!

Bill Brightly

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #30 on: August 18, 2014, 08:02:07 PM »
I'm a lucky guy. Here I sit, four days away from my first visit to Scotland, relishing to the chance to play North Berwick on 8/31,(the last day of our trip) and a Sean_A photo thread appears! Only problem now is how to tell my wife and friends that I want to blow off our farewell Scotland dinner so I can squeeze in a replay...

Bill Gayne

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #31 on: August 18, 2014, 08:05:47 PM »
Thanks for the photos. I'm playing North Berwick for first time on Wednesday and getting a second play on Friday.

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #32 on: August 19, 2014, 04:19:39 AM »
Personally, I think it would be nice to cut a 25 yard approach fairway on the far side of the wall on the 13th but hey... small stuff...

Hope to be back next year for the first time since 2008...

Sean_A

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #33 on: August 19, 2014, 04:52:26 AM »
In addition to the angle, the width of the Gate green at North Berwick is only 1/3 the width of most of the Macdonald and Raynor templates.  It presents some of the toughest recovery shots of any green anywhere to those who miss it ... and most everyone misses it!

Simon, what % of the time do you think you actually hit and hold the green on 16?

TD

Gate is the one hole (possibly Point Garry in as well) which seems to have been radically compromised by technology.  When I first played the West Links my goal was to get right so as to have a fairly up the gut approach.  Now, if the hole is forward, especially if downwind, I want to smashmouth the drive as far as possible so I can hit a runner into the green.  Those balls seen in my photo are our drives!  I think a lot of guys have to worry about the bunkers left of the green for their tee shots  :o - believe it or not, there must be some lay-up going on there.  Its not easy, but a 40 yard kicker compared to 100 yard wedge is a much more comfortable shot for me.  I recall hitting long irons and woods into that green into a decent breeze, way back when.  Now, the wind has to be seriously strong to create that scenario.  Luckily, the green is so difficult to hit that the flat belly has no guarantee of a birdie.  Don't ask me how to play Gate with the hole on the rear plateau.  Maybe play to the front plateau and hope to 2 putt?

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 18, 2018, 06:04:42 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Thomas Dai

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #34 on: August 19, 2014, 05:02:08 AM »
Thanks for the extra photos James and the link to your terrific photo tour which I somehow managed to miss via the search engine. I now have more of an inkling as to what NBW is like, particularly having viewed the more famous holes from different angles plus the other holes not so often seen in photos. I've also noted Ally's comment in the photo tour thread about the excellent nearby pitch-n-putt course.

Looks like some pretty expensive housing.

I wonder what NBW was like before the sea defences were installed adjacent to the 1st and 2nd holes? I can imagine the sea must sometimes have been pretty invasive in times gone by (is it still I wonder - 2013 storms?)

atb :)
« Last Edit: August 19, 2014, 05:04:10 AM by Thomas Dai »

Simon Holt

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #35 on: August 19, 2014, 06:29:11 AM »
In addition to the angle, the width of the Gate green at North Berwick is only 1/3 the width of most of the Macdonald and Raynor templates.  It presents some of the toughest recovery shots of any green anywhere to those who miss it ... and most everyone misses it!

Simon, what % of the time do you think you actually hit and hold the green on 16?

Tom:

If the pin is on the back then I would venture less than 5% of the time.  And thats not an exaggeration. 

First you have to hit the fairway.  In Medal play I would never try and get onto the back section on the fly unless I was into a wind, which would probably mean I had a 7, 6 or 5 iron in my hand so I'd still be trying to run it.  As you say, its so shallow that unless you can tower shots in there very few will hold the green.  I'd always pitch short left; if it runs up, great, if not then the two putt from short left is very makable if you've done it a few times.

When the pin is at the front the % goes up dramatically.  Assuming from the fairway, I'd hit it probably 60% of the time but not chasing pins.  Simply getting it on to the front of the front section and taking 2 putts.  Downwind and fairway hit I'd be annoyed not to be on the front section.  I can bump and run or putt from distance to get on it.

Sean:

The only laying up is for the burn into the wind!  Drives can get close and on the rare occasion get up on the front section but anyone who is legitimately worried about driving into those bunkers is good enough to make par from them.  In the bunker, out and 2 putt par, even from off the green.  Miss the bunkers and you have an off green 2 putt for birdie. 

Opposed to a lay-up giving a 100 yard up and down for birdie, downwind to an unreceptive green.  Worth the risk in my mind....and much more fun. 

I've been in the bunker left of the green around 3 times in what must be close to 1000 plays.  My mates who hit it further than me would only ever take less club to hit the fairway.  That's not to say no one has ever backed off due to length though; simply my take on it.

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.

Sean_A

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #36 on: August 19, 2014, 08:07:33 AM »
Jeepers Simon.  I am very surprised by your comments. I am not long.  We didn't play with a hard tailwind and the ground wasn't terribly keen.  I whacked a very good drive (for me) maybe 15 yards shy of the bunker.  Okay, according to the card the drive was over 300 yards, but we could have been playing a bit forward.  Even so, I would have thought there are tons of guys who could reach those bunkers in the same conditions...or maybe you lot ain't as good as I thought  :D  I guess my point still stands.  Gate is nowhere near as difficult as when I first encountered it around 1992.  You jest (I think) about the burn, but I recall one time having to lay-up and the wind wasn't howling. 

Ciao
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Simon Holt

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #37 on: August 19, 2014, 08:43:42 AM »
Haha!  I'm not that long but as you said yourself, its close to 300 yards!

No joke with regard to the burn.  Off the Medal tees I've been in it 3 times this year into the wind.  Its 230 carry but if you lay up its one hell of a second shot to pull off.  Its 200 to carry off the forward tees, so rarely an issue unless into a howler.  17 is also long into the wind at 425 uphill off the backs.
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.

Tom Kelly

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #38 on: August 19, 2014, 10:25:44 AM »
Until about the 50's the path to the sea was one big sandy hazard full of hoof and tourist prints, and it meant you had to lay up off the tee. Not sure if harder in this case would be better.

That's interesting, last time I was there God deemed it fit to recreate this. I thought it looked and played rather well.



Sean,

The same day as the photo above was taken I booted my best drive of the day by a mile to creep over the burn on 16 from the daily tees and was then left with a long iron into the green if I remember rightly.....I also nearly got hypothermia, though I still left with a smile on my face.

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS - My First 3*
« Reply #39 on: August 20, 2014, 09:39:46 AM »
Some flatbellies to play it next year.


First Minister Alex Salmond has opened discussions with Aberdeen Asset Management (AAM) and The European Tour to extend AAM’s sponsorship of the Scottish Open until 2020.

The tournament, one of The European Tour’s flagship events, has gone from strength to strength with spectator numbers up by a quarter since 2011, and a Memorandum of Understanding to enter talks was signed today.

The negotiations seek to extend AAM’s sponsorship beyond the current 2017 contract and continue to build on the already strong reputation of the Scottish Open.

The First Minister made the announcement at North Berwick Golf Club which will host next year’s inaugural Scottish Open pre-qualifying tournament. The 54-hole qualifying tournament will take place the week before the Scottish Open, being staged at Gullane, and will offer six Championship places to Scottish golfers.

First Minister Alex Salmond said:“Scotland is the Home of Golf; the historical origins of the game, our magnificent courses and stunning scenery all cement that reputation to fans across the globe. And with The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles just weeks away, the eyes of the golfing world are falling on Scotland.

“The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open has gone from strength to strength and is one of the most anticipated competitions on the Tour by players and fans alike.

“Aberdeen Asset Management’s tremendous support has had a huge hand in the tournament’s growth and the opening of these negotiations will hopefully see that fruitful partnership continue.”

George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “Naturally, we welcome the opportunity to further develop our sponsorship agreements with our Title Sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management and The Scottish Government – our longest partner in Scotland – for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

“Following the initial agreement, announced at Edinburgh Castle in March 2012, our partners have gained outstanding value from their association with the Scottish Open and The European Tour. As we strive towards our agreed vision for the 2020 Scottish Open, I have no doubt that the continued commitment, drive and vision of Aberdeen and the Government, working in partnership with The European Tour, will continue to enhance this superb Championship each year.

“On behalf of The European Tour, I would also like to thank North Berwick Golf Club for agreeing to host the pre-qualifying tournament for the 2015 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open – North Berwick is a fitting links test to begin our inaugural Qualifying tournament and I am sure it will produce six worthy winners of a place in Scotland’s National Open.”

Frank Pratt, Club Captain at North Berwick Golf Club, said: “North Berwick Golf Club is delighted to be the chosen venue for the inaugural Scottish Open Pre-Qualifying Tournament in 2015.

“Established in 1832, the Club has a long and proud history of hosting Championship golf over our historical West Links. With views over the Firth of Forth, and of the nearby islands the course provides an excellent test of golf, and we look forward to welcoming all the qualifiers to North Berwick.

Read more at http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2014/tournamentid=2014054/news/newsid=232890.html#2dESo4e9cZt19Q0h.99




Let's make GCA grate again!

Sean_A

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS
« Reply #40 on: May 22, 2016, 07:32:24 AM »
All

See updated pix.  What a place!

Simon

I see more bunkers have been added to the 12th  :'(

Ciao
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 05:38:09 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS
« Reply #41 on: May 22, 2016, 09:49:10 AM »
Having been fortunate to play the course again a couple of times recently I'd say the 3rd and 7th greens are the most interesting IMO. In both cases you are just glad to hit the green with the approach shot for different reasons (length of shot at the 3rd and over the burn at the 7th) but once you get on you realise that the jobs only half done. Challenging yet subtle.

Niall

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS
« Reply #42 on: May 24, 2016, 03:35:35 AM »
Having been fortunate to play the course again a couple of times recently I'd say the 3rd and 7th greens are the most interesting IMO. In both cases you are just glad to hit the green with the approach shot for different reasons (length of shot at the 3rd and over the burn at the 7th) but once you get on you realise that the jobs only half done. Challenging yet subtle.

Niall


I think I will stick with 16 as NB's most interesting green  :o


Ciao
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS
« Reply #43 on: May 24, 2016, 04:14:32 AM »
Sean
 
The 16th is certainly a remarkable green and good fun to try and hit with your approach, OK for trying to get onto from just off (chip or run ?) but fairly hum drum once you are on unless you are on the other plateau from the hole which won’t be often.  The other greens by comparison have more interesting internal contours and IMO more fun for the short game.
 
Niall

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS
« Reply #44 on: May 24, 2016, 04:28:15 AM »
Niall

I think putting on 16 even on the same side of the gulley can be dicey if the hole is located by the edge of the gulley.  Even trying to get on the green from the sides can be tough...reminds me a lot of Pinehurst 2.

Ciao
« Last Edit: March 21, 2018, 04:29:42 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

David McIntosh

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS
« Reply #45 on: May 24, 2016, 09:33:59 AM »
The 16th green is definitely interesting but I'd say that was more to do with the challenge of getting on to it as opposed to the contours of the green itself. The front section is pretty flat and, whilst there is more slope on the back portion than the front, my main concern once on the green is distance control to ensure putts don't drift back down the gulley. I think this is fair and provides an element of reward for landing on the green given it is probably the most difficult to hold on the course.

As far as the short game goes around the 16th, most people will pull out the putter as it's the percentage shot. Bumping a chip into the bank might work but the uncertainty around how the ball will react when it hits the bank means that few (that I've seen) will take the risk in trying this.

Sean - the putt up the slope is certainly dicey, nothing more frustrating than either the ball ending back at your feet because you haven't given it enough juice or taking too bold a line at the pin and watching it fall off the edge of the gulley.

I'd also throw the 12th green in as one of the more difficult yet interesting at NB. With the big back to front and right to left slope it's very easy to end up in a position where getting down in two is nigh on impossible. I'm finding that the best way to play the hole, particularly when the flag is near the front, is to hit the approach short to the mouth of the green, between the two bunkers, and leave an uphill putt which takes out the possibility of running through the green and leaving a slippery chip/putt back down the slope.

David
« Last Edit: May 24, 2016, 02:05:50 PM by David McIntosh »

Jon Wiggett

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS
« Reply #46 on: May 24, 2016, 02:41:00 PM »
David, Sean,


I can understand where Niall is coming from in as much the 3rd and 7th are both greens that look fairly innocuous when hitting the approach shot but turn out to be not only quite large but also have plenty of movement. A three putt is more than a good possibility. The 12th is also a demanding green.


On the subject of the 16th it is a unique and fascinating green complex which allows divers options to play to it and results from approach shots. The last time I played there in the company of Tony Muldoon, Niall C and Jon Byron Niall, Jon and I were all about 100 yards short of the green. Jon was on the right of the fairway with the falg been on the front section. He hit a flighted wedge that pitched and held that part of the green about 15ft. Niall was more central in the fairway and hit a lower shot that pitched short of the green and ran up the bank to stop next to Jon's ball. I was on the left side of the fairway and hit a putter to about 10ft. Three completely different shots from similar positions that all had good results which is what NB is all about.


For the record, I do not recall where Tony hit his approach but he was quite a bit closer to the green than the rest of us were having nonchalantly wafted his drive a good 30 yards past what was my best drive of the day :o


Jon

David McIntosh

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS
« Reply #47 on: May 24, 2016, 03:53:37 PM »
Jon,

I really like the 16th green and I think it's necessary that the green surface is relatively flat due to the angle at which the green sits in comparison to the fairway - the approach is what makes it such a great hole, particularly after you've already had the (sometimes wind dependent) decision off the tee whether to try to carry the burn. It just fits in very well.

To be clear, my comments about the majority of players using putter for the short game was really meant to refer to shots from around 30 yards and in once past the last of the fairway bunkers where you're probably too close to the green for any other type of shot to be effective. It's a completely different situation from the 100-150 yard mark where there are a multitude of options as illustrated by the various successful approaches used during your last round there.

Incidentally, I agree with Niall about the 3rd and 7th greens being the most interesting on the course. Both have an abundance of humps and bumps along with great variety around pin positions, with both having bowls that can funnel balls towards the flag and conversely shelves that can make even putting close a real challenge. Real imagination required - great greens.

David
« Last Edit: May 24, 2016, 03:56:02 PM by David McIntosh »

Thomas Dai

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS
« Reply #48 on: May 24, 2016, 04:47:23 PM »
Now I've not (yet) played North Berwick so am in no position to myself comment, but I was chatting to someone recently who has played NB a few times about the reverse course at TOC and he raised the possibility that NB was another course that could perhaps be played in reverse, with a couple of tee changes for player etc safety.


Thoughts?


Atb

Niall C

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Re: NORTH BERWICK WEST LINKS
« Reply #49 on: May 27, 2016, 08:22:29 AM »
Atb


Like a lot of these old time links, NB was played in reverse at one point to allow the grass on the normal routing time to recover. Of course it was easier when fairways were less well defined.


Niall

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