Sacrilege perhaps, but of all the courses you should play in Scotland- maybe North Berwick's West Links should be the first on the list!
That is not to denigrate the hallowed experience of playing The Old Course at St Andrews
But the experience at North Berwick is a perfect entree for Scottish golf, and indeed their way of life.
North Berwick is located an easy drive east of Edinburgh, and 10 minutes from Muirfield.
The seaside town has real character and is a lovely place to spend a few days.
In fact I wouldn't mind making it my base for an extended break..
But it is the golf course that you will come for, and in my mind the west links at Nth Berwick are very special.
For golf historians, and architectural fans, North Berwick is almost as significant as St Andrews.
It has the history, dating back to 1877 for its first 18 holes, with David Strath the main contributor to the design..
North Berwick has enormous variety- you just don't know what lies around the next corner- and the combination of rolling dunes, beach in play, stone walls, burns, and quirk factor all combine to make this THE most fun course to play!
From an architectural point of view we have a number of holes that have been copied world wide.
The famous par 3 Redan (hole 15) is without doubt the most copied par 3 in golf, and the 2nd hole a super par 4 around the beach from an elevated tee is probably the first of literally thousands of 'cape' holes...
These are truly great golf holes. Perhaps my favourite of the lot is 'The Pit', the short par 4 13th hole where the approach to a green wedged in a hollow between wall and dune is made diagonally over a stone wall!!
Other outstanding holes are the par 3's at holes 4 & 6, and the quirk factor hole 14, aptly named 'Perfection'
North Berwick is not the best course in the world. The holes furthest from the clubhouse- 8, 9, 10, 11 are good without being great, and I would argue that the opening hole, while quirky, is not a great golf hole. And the green on hole 16 is so convoluted I cannot imagine ever being able to hit and stay on it..
Nevertheless despite it's weaknesses North Berwick has enormous positives.
There is no pomp.
It is a relaxed game by the seaside in a beautiful coastal village.
The variety and quirkiness of the holes make the experience a delight you won't easily forget.
It's just great fun. It reminds us of why we play the game
So when planning a golfing trip to Scotland I would argue that Nth Berwick should be the first course selected in your itinerary.
Every golfer should experience Nth Berwick
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