Played North Berwick in the late afternoon on July 9th with my son Scott. This was after playing Kilspindie on Monday and Carnoustie (Championship), Prestwick, Turnberry (Ailsa), and Musselburgh Links (Old Course) later in the week. Received a warm welcome at the clubhouse and were informed the designer was unknown with the links established in 1832. Of all the courses we played, North Berwick had the most scenic views of the Firth of Forth with the first nine holes going out with the wind and the 9 holes coming back against the wind. The day we played was a perfect sunny day and the wind was relatively calm.
The links was in excellent condition with the fairways playing firm and fast and the excellent greens rolled smoothly and were a good speed. Did not lose a ball during the round and the rough was not as penal as some of the other links we played. The links was just under 6,500 yards from the medal tees and was a pleasure to play.
The 1st and 18th holes shared the same fairway and the second shot to one had to be precise as the Firth of Forth was just to the right of the green. On the second hole hit my drive on the beach with the sunbathers that day and had to hit the ball from the beach back to the fairway for the second shot. A pretty unique experience for me. The third has an old stone wall in the middle of the fairway that you must stay short of on the tee shot. The par 4 7th (Eil Burn) had the most immaculately groomed burn I have seen. The front nine had a wide range of holes with the 5 par 4s ranging from 322 yards to 460 yards. The front nine ended with 2 par fives that are birdie opportunities with well played shots.
The back nine started with the 172-yard par 3 10th (Eastward Ho!) into the breeze. The back nine had a several unique golfing experiences for me as the green on the par 4 13th (Pit) was situated behind an old stone wall. The par 4 14th (Perfection) lived up to its name with its blind tee shot toward the marker and a green that is situated on the edge of the Firth of Forth. Playing the par 3 15th (Redan) was a nice experience just to play this much copied design. I must say the par 4 16th (Gate) green was as unique as have ever seen. It has 2 separate raised green sections with a narrow strip connecting them -- pretty cool. The 428-yard par 4 17th (Point Garry in) was a nice challenge with its elevated green. The day ended playing the short par 4 18th (home) that is reminiscent of playing the 18th at St. Andrews as it shares the fairway with the first hole.
Overall an excellent top notch links course that was in excellent condition and a must play links if in the area. Click here to see a You Tube slideshow of some pictures I took during my visit. Jim Brady
Date: July 24, 2013