Renaissance Club - Lothians - Scotland

The Renaissance Club,
Cowden Hill Drive,
Dirleton,
North Berwick,
EH39 5HS,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1620 850 901

The acclaimed American course architect Tom Doak has been associated with some fantastic contemporary course designs around the world in recent years – think Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand, Barnbougle Dunes in Australia, Pacific Dunes in America – all of them very highly ranked in our World Top 100 rankings.

Now, with his first course design at the Home of Golf in East Lothian’s Archerfield Estate, next door to Muirfield, Doak has added another brilliant layout to an already outstanding portfolio with the opening of the Renaissance Club course in April 2008.

The 18 holes were carved out of around 300 acres of pine forest – developer Jerry Sarvadi told us there were over 8,500 tonnes of wood cleared – but the design retained a number of these trees in strategic fairway and greenside positions, adding both definition and a very pleasing aesthetic quality to the landscape.

Five years after the course opened, land acquired from the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers in a land swap arrangement was used to fashion three new holes along the coastline. The opening three holes were dropped from the old 18-hole layout – though they're still maintained and used for practice – then the former holes at 12 and 13 were combined to fashion the current 12th hole and a new par three was installed at the 15th.

The new holes at 9 to 11 are really important to the club, connecting the course to the coastline in a way that it wasn't before. Starting and ending with par three holes, this little stretch, along with the preceding 8th hole, is the crowning glory of a round at Renaissance Club. The new par four 10th , in particular, is a dramatic addition, its thin ribbon of fairway and fiercely tilted green sitting tight along the edge of the cliffs, high above the Firth of Forth.

The Renaissance Club hosted the 25th edition of the Scottish Senior Open in 2017 (won by Paul Broadhurst). The club also hosted the 2019 Scottish Open which Austria's Bernd Wiesberger claimed after beating Frenchman Benjamin Hebert in a play-off. Both men finished on 22 under, the lowest score to par in the tournament's history.

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Reviews for Renaissance Club

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Description: The Renaissance Club opened in April 2008 with future tournament golf in mind and it's Tom Doak's first Scottish course design. Rating: 8 out of 10 Reviews: 20
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Jim McCann

A couple of days ago, seven years after I first played here, I stepped back onto the 1st tee at Renaissance Club. Back then, in 2008, there was no clubhouse or other accommodation buildings, just a draughty portakabin situated close to the first tee, containing a few chairs and a coffee table. All that has changed as the club has developed, with facilities that now match or even better the best of those that you’ll find anywhere else in the country.

On the course, there has also been plenty of progress made. In particular, several new holes have been introduced along the Renaissance Club Golf Course - Photo by reviewershoreline of the Firth of Forth and sections of wooded areas further inland have been removed, further enhancing the course’s links credentials.

A round now begins on the old 4th hole, as the former opening three holes are now only used for practice. The fairway on the opening hole sets the standard for the other seventeen holes; generously wide and beautifully crisp and dry, allowing firm and fast conditions to prosper all the way from tee to green.

Many of the greens are FAR more heavily contoured than I could remember and some of the pin positions close to the more pronounced swales were such that even slightly misaligned or under hit putts were thrown way off to their intended target -- making me look rather foolish on more than one occasion during my round!

Putting surfaces may be pretty funky, but they’re certainly not as outrageous as others I’ve encountered in similar new build projects in recent years. What they do require is a certain “game within a game” mentality where you really need to concentrate hard in order not to run up a big score from close to the pin.

Hole number Renaissance Club Golf Course - Photo by reviewer8 (the former number 11, pictured) remains my favourite because everything about it is so appealing: the two beautiful big trees to the right of the fairway, the terrifically sculpted bunker short and right of the green, the heavily undulating putting surface and the wonderful broken dyke wall that runs diagonally behind the hole -- it’s easily one of my all-time favourite spots in Scottish golf (and that’s even without playing the hole from the offset white tees which add another 55 yards to the length).

The new holes overlooking the Firth that follow at 9 to 11 add an extra dimension to the course now, especially at the short par four 10th, where a sliver of fairway somehow connects the tee to the green along the edge of the cliff top. It’s a spectacular hole on a very special portion of property that was apparently traded for another parcel of land with the neighbours at Muirfield next door and I think I know who scored best in that particular deal.

Renaissance Club now offers a “one-time experience,” albeit for a hefty green fee, but if you’re serious about sampling world class links golf then you really have to pull out all the financial stops to play here.

Jim McCann.

July 10, 2015
10 / 10
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Peter Smith
September 28, 2015
I had the pleasure of playing here two weeks ago. It was simply magnificent from the moment we had something to eat when we arrived, the superb golf course and a fine meal afterwards. What wasn't said in the above review is that we were made to feel very welcome and the club by its members, the professionals and the extremely courteous staff. A truly memorable day.
Hamish Wilson

I have played Renaissance once in a high wind. Frankly it was to difficult for me and I think anyone without a low single figure handicap and not a senior. It caters for the wealthy who are unlikely to fall into that category It is surprisingly hilly. I did not play it when the new holes by the sea were in play but they looked sensational. In great condition and clearly a top class course. Even if I had the money i would not like to play there. Every round would be a battle however if you get an invitation to play grab it!

August 25, 2014
8 / 10
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Shaun
I was fortunate enough to play RC last week. This is a very special golf club, whilst the club members are obviously not short of a bob or two they are some of the friendliest and laid back you could want to meet. The course was the real star of the day which whilst challenging from the white pegs it was very fair and rewarded good golf shots. The condition of he course was first class and the greens a little on the fast side for my shaky putting stroke. Teeing off from the practice putting green for your first tee shot was fabulous!The new holes being built look fantastic and so does the huge new clubhouse, if you are lucky enough to receive an invitation to play The Renaissance please do not hesitate to take it up.
August 04, 2012
8 / 10
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John

I played the Renaissance Club earlier this year because Tom Doak designed it and I have a great deal of admiration for his work. It must be hard to have your work scrutinised and it’s surely pleasing when the accolades are positive but upsetting when they are not. Doak’s creation at St Andrews Beach competes with most courses on the Mornington Peninsula but falls short when compared to the old classics further north along the Melbourne sand belt. Ballyneal in Holyoke, Colorado, knocks your socks off because as a golf course it stands alone as does his excellent layout at the Rock Creek Cattle Company which opened the same year as the Renaissance. Naturally his Scottish design will be measured against the classics of Muirfield and North Berwick but will also be compared against the courses next door at Archerfield, which are similarly aged. The Renaissance is as least as good, if not better than the Fidra and certainly a better design than the Dirleton.

I particularly like the Renaissance’s back nine, which is topographically more interesting than the front with greater rise and fall in elevation. In fact, I felt the course started too quietly except for some stellar green complexes but came alive as a course at the 8th, a lovely old-fashioned short par four that turns slightly to the left and, as the previous review commented, it really does have an interesting green. You then get your first view of the sea at the par three 9th and then, at the turn, the course changes character as takes in the elevation, pines and sea views.

It’s actually wrong to criticise the Renaissance because it’s a good course and it might be compared to Kingsbarns and considered great in the future but that will only happen if more golfers can access these fairways. The new clubhouse will no doubt help to attract further wealthy members and their guests but I think that’s missing the essence of what people expect from the Home of Golf. In Scotland golf is for the people and if Muirfield can open its door to visitors on Tuesdays and Thursdays then surely this new kid on the block can too. Who knows, golfers might get to love the Renaissance more than Muirfield at some future point, especially if the Renaissance can secure a noteworthy tournament.

October 11, 2011
6 / 10
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Mac Plumart
Terrific modern links style course. Rumor has it new holes will be added soon, but the course is a treat to play just like it is now. 8 is an epic green and 11 is one of the truly great holes in the world.
August 13, 2011
8 / 10
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Adrian Walker

This club has wonderful service and as a guest I was treated like royalty. I cannot fathom how some of the reviews criticise the club for this. If reviews concentrated on the design and customer service and not the fact that they hate the thought of the exclusivity then there would be a much fairer rating. The course is Scottish in playability, firm and fast. The service is more American but I don’t think it goes overboard and I found it a breath of fresh air.

This was my first Doak experience and I loved it. The front 9 shows wonderful design skill over relatively flat land. 4, 7 and 9 were my favourite holes due to the incredible green complexes that use sideboards and slopes around the green to allow for true running shots to access the pins. It doesn’t have a pure links feel due to the trees but I rather like them. It makes the place unique as the turf certainly plays hard and fast like next door at Muirfield.

The second 9 is perhaps the more interesting terrain with large elevation changes. The 11th is particularly memorable due to the old ruined wall and gnarled Scots Pine framing a wonderful green site on the side of a dune. Speaking to the pro they have plans for more holes and a Scottish Open maybe in the future. This maybe explains the extreme length off the very back but I found it refreshing to play whatever tees we wanted and ended up mixing and matching. If you can’t handle a tournament course then surely swallow your pride and move forward?

The views are stunning and given the new holes will be down in the dunes it will raise the course up further still. According to the barman the head green keeper used to be at Gullane and his local knowledge must be the reason for the immaculate condition and some of the best bunkering I have ever seen. It is hard to believe the course is so young. This is the best new course I have played in the UK and only just behind a few of the Coore & Crenshaw courses I have played in the US. This course is a real sleeper, I just hope they have an event here or some sort of limited pay and play to get some exposure- good luck to them. I do think there is a place for this sort of club in Scotland. It is certainly up to standard. I’m a golf for all guy but having played more 5 hour rounds on public courses than I care to remember I can understand why people would spend their hard earned to have a place to themselves. Lottery next week?? Adrian W

January 08, 2011
8 / 10
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Tom S
So unnecessary that they are not open to visitors. You have to know a member to get on here. They're trying the rich American CEO golf experience in East Lothian and I found it ridiculous. For example, when you arrive, an employee takes your clubs for you and has them "ready for you on the 1st tee". Come on, what is the point?! The course itself has a very average front 9 (NOT a links course, more like a heathland) and an excellent back 9 (holes 10-13 are stunning, with great views of the Firth of Forth and over to Fife). Sure, I was lucky to get a game here, but what they are doing at Archerfield, both the Renaissance and the two adjacent courses, is fundamentally against the spirit of the game. If they welcomed visitors even with high green fees, they would blend in so well with the top quality golf stretching from Longniddry to Dunbar. Such a pity.
July 01, 2009
4 / 10
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Cornwell
May 30, 2010
'In the spirit of the game' like Muirfield you mean? I also think that you have your courses confused. Your clubs are taken at Archerfield, not Renaissance. Of the 3 in the area, Archerfield Fidra is a lot of fun and stunning, Archerfield Direlton is a great, 'proper' links and Renaissance is a long, long slog which is undeniably beautiful in parts but just too hard off the backs even for very good players.
tsjs
June 29, 2010
Good lord, not Muirfield! 'The spirit of the game' meaning that any half-decent golfer should be able to get on. I don't have my courses confused. My clubs have been "ready on the 1st tee" every time I have played Renaissance. Absolutely crazy and out of character with 99% of Scottish golf.
AJ
January 05, 2011
I agree TSJS, vulgar, unnecessary and not in keeping with Scottish golf, as a game for the people. To remove 8500 tonnes of wood, living trees is an absolute disgrace. Local government should be ashamed !
Adrian Walker
January 08, 2011
I find some of these comments strange. How do they know these facts about trees? Just like Archerfield, which also has great customer service, people pay for their privacy and levels of service. Who cares? How can it be vulgar and offensive? Live and let live guys- or at least have the decency to put your name to what could be seen as quite nasty and jealousy driven comments. Especially the gent who seems to have played more than once. Why go back if someone offering you help offends you so much? Adrian Walker
Joey
January 09, 2011
I must agree with Adrian. It is a course that would be great fun to get to know more. But I am happy to have played it once! Some of the previous comments do sound petty. There is so much great golf along that stretch of coast that noone should fuss over limited access to a small few. It may be good but not on a level with North Berwick or Muirfield. Try playing some of the best Long Island has to offer and then complain about one private club!!! If you get access, enjoy it, if not you'll not starve for golf!
David Jones
It was hard not to come away from my morning at the Renaissance Club feeling anything but a little disappointed. I had read many of Doak's comments on the course design, enjoyed the photos and watching videos of the club. The problem was it was just not as much fun as it should have been. There were just one set of tees in play the day I was there and anyone who thinks a 516 yard par 4 uphill into the wind is anything but punishment is playing off a lower handicap than I! While the land was beautiful and much of the work done on the course was technically great and interesting it just felt like this course had been built with one thing in mind only - to build a course for a big tour event. Anyone expecting a modern interpretation of a Scottish Links should think again - the course is very hilly in parts and does not have many of the characteristics you would expect on this coastline. I am glad I have played it once but frankly if you offered me a round there again or at Gullane, North Berwick, Archerfied or Muirfield the Renaissance would definitely be at the bottom of my list.
November 17, 2008
4 / 10
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Martin Jordan
It takes some cajones to open a course in East Lothian’s stockbroker belt but, that is exactly where Renaissance brashly, decided to pitch their tent. Such is their confidence; they chose to rub shoulders with golfing heavyweights at Muirfield and Gullane not to mention the much lauded newcomers of Archerfield. Is this confidence misplaced? …Absolutely not, as this up and coming gem further enhances the already illustrious neighbourhood. This is quality with the largest capital Q, and already recognised with the award of a Tartan Tour event in the course’s maiden year. Complements don’t come much higher than that As you would expect no expense has been spared here, tees and greens are like freshly vacuumed green Axminsters. Fairways, so well maintained they could impress the toughest Sergeant Major on parade day, the whole place is immaculate. But don’t think that it style over substance because nothing could be further from the truth. Such is the quality of the terrain that no tricks, gimmicks or water features are required here, Tom Doak and his team using what Mother Nature has already supplied just making some subtle nips and tucks a Beverley Hills plastic surgeon would be proud of. I must make comment on the bunkering which is just magnificent, positioned where you don’t want them to be and big enough to sleep a family of 9. Holes just effortlessly flow one after the other with the 10th and the 11th being as good as anything you will play anywhere. Sadly for many, playing at Renaissance will remain a pipedream as I believe it will be open to members and guests only. If however, you are lucky enough to get an invite to play here drop everything, thank your lucky stars, then like me, you will be one of the privileged few to have sampled this special course. MPPJ
November 11, 2008
10 / 10
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Jim McCann

I was fortunate enough to play the course when it first opened in the middle of April 2008 and I loved it from first hole to last. Having peeped into the site when visiting the nearby Dirleton course less than two years ago, in the middle of tree-felling, Renaissance - Photo by Jim McCannI was astounded to see how well the land had been transformed, with newly laid fairways giving a very linksy feel to the round.

As one might expect at an exclusive golf club where membership bonds cost a substantial five-figure sum, the condition of the course was immaculate from start to finish and, surprise, surprise for an American design, it’s been built for walking with not a cart path (or any extraneous water features!) in sight - but then if you know anything about designer Tom Doak then you’d never expect any such blots on the landscape anyway.

The gentle mounding and greenside bunkering is exceptional throughout (though I’d keep them all as they are instead of introducing an intended program of revetting) and the enormous greens, though slow when I played, will be a joy to putt on when fully up to speed.

I really enjoyed several aspects of the Renaissance course: the isolated trees that have occasionally been positioned beside fairways and near greens (like left of the 4th fairway); the wee walls that have been incorporated into some of the holes (especially at the 18th); the feeling of openness – even when playing at holes lined by trees on one or either side of the fairway – and the subtle changes in elevation on the more undulating back nine.

The par four 11th (514-yards from the tiger tee) is a real cracker, played to one of the most wickedly contoured greens I’ve ever putted on. It’s flanked by rough to the left, a lovely bunker front right and a broken stone wall to the back left – expect to see lots of photos of this hole on golf magazine covers and brochures very soon!

Doak’s understated touch is a real joy to behold and it raises the bar of golfing excellence along this coastline yet another notch higher.

Jim McCann

April 22, 2008
10 / 10
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