A Championship Links
The Renaissance Club is sited adjacent to Muirfield on the coast in East Lothian, Scotland. With Muirfield over the fence, and North Berwick 5 minutes down the road, The Renaissance Club had to be outstanding to hold its own in such esteemed company.
And it is.
This is a real championship course, worthy of hosting a major championship.
American Jerry Savardi is the man who has made it happen, and Tom Doak and his team at Renaissance Golf designed and built the course- it is no accident that the name of the course and the design team are the same- Savardi sought permission from Doak to do so- perhaps the ultimate compliment.
I first saw the course before it was grassed in 2006, and was struck by how the site differed from those around it. While blessed with the same undulating sand based terrain as it's illustrious neighbor, TRC has areas that were heavily treed and this gives the course a completely different feel as it moves through some almost heathland like territory and then cuts through the forest, down to coastal dunes and back to forest and heath.
I first played the course 2 or 3 times in Tom Doak's Renaissance Cup in 2009, and was impressed with the course.
The routing was strong, with the holes going off constantly in different directions, providing a variety of wind conditions for different holes, with no two holes alike.
Things have changed however in the last 5 years, as the club traded some land with Muirfield, gaining some prime coastal duneland as a result...
Tom Doak was brought back and new holes were produced.
Three lovely introductory holes were banished, and the new coastal holes replaced them with a few other changes also necessary to bring the new routing together.
The first 3 holes are now practice holes, and good as they were the introduction of the coastal holes has strengthened the course considerably.
Fast forward to 2014, and I was fortunate enough to return for 3 days of golf at TRC again, and what a difference that 5 years has made!
As well as the new holes and changes to the routing, the course has matured dramatically.
Yes, the playing surfaces were magnificent- firm and fast, but the rough has also matured and long wavy rough interspersed with a rainbow of flowers in purple and yellow, combined with pink fescues framed the course majestically. Strands of mature pines, the occasional oak, and then the coastal grasses added to the picture perfect backdrop.
And now Jerry Savardi has plans.
He knows he has a magnificent facility, and wants to show it off.
He wants to host a major tournament and has made it known he would host the Scottish Open.
It's not likely in the short term, but I would like to see it- after all this is a true championship course.
When we played he had it set up as if for the Open Championship itself. The long fescue rough was grown right in, making driving very tight, and any misses were a real challenge to get back on the fairway. It was hard!
But no one complained- they had all been privileged to play on a true championship course in absolutely prime condition.
It is a stern test of golf for sure, one you must play off an appropriate tee....you need to drive straight...you need to keep your ball in play....you need to hit greens or your short game needs to be sharp...and you need to putt well... the greens were firm and have enough movement to test anyone's putting prowess...
Hard but fair... A real championship course!
With so many good holes, I opt to mention holes 4, 8 & 10 as the standout holes.
Hole 4 is just a beautiful mid length dogleg par 4 with a cluster of bunkers well framed by fescue on the inside of the dogleg, and then an elevated green framed by tree and bunkers.
Hole 8 is unique with the combination of a good strong golf hole, a broken wall, tree and revetted bunkers all contributing to the look- a picture paints a thousand words....
And the short par 4 10th curves along the coast in the dunes proper...awesome!
TRC is an exclusive, expensive, private club with 6 star facilities off course- but if you venture to East Lothian to play some golf, do yourself a favour, and try and get a game...
You won't regret it