North Berwick - West Links
The 13th oldest golf club in the world, North Berwick is second only to the Royal & Ancient Club in St. Andrews for continuous play over the same course. The West Links was originally 6 holes, with a 7th added before it was extended to 18 holes in 1877. One of the most natural links in the world, North Berwick may not be the longest of courses at 6,420 yards but rest assured that successful navigation requires the full repertoire of shot making.
The course has been described as being from a primitive age, a statement that must not be perceived as taking anything away from its undeniable quality. The simple fact is that North Berwick has, to a large extent, evolved naturally with little assistance from mankind, a fact reflected in the name of the principle course architect – Mother Nature herself.
Like all courses of similar historical origins, North Berwick has its own stories to tell – some good, some funny and some tragic. In the early days, matches among leading professionals were frequent and attracted thousands of spectators. In September 1875, one such match pitted Willie and Mungo Park against Young and Old Tom Morris. The match ended abruptly when a telegram arrived with the news that Young Tom’s wife was seriously ill after the birth of their son. On setting out for home, a second message arrived with the news that both mother and son had died. So devastating was the news to the 25-year old “legend” that Young Tom, already triple Open Champion, died 3 months later.
Each hole on this stimulating links, which regularly hosts final qualifying for the British Open, poses different tests of judgement and skill. A unique golfing experience, North Berwick boasts blind holes, spectacular views, drives over walls and burns and bunkers deep enough for golfers to disappear from view. Many holes have been copied by designers all over the world, most commonly the 14th, named “Perfection,” and the 192-yard par 3, 15th hole called “Redan,” which has been replicated in both Pebble Beach and Shinnecock Hills.
Like many of the great holes in golf, first impressions of “Redan” can be deceptive, and it is only by playing the hole a number of times that it reveals its hidden subtleties. The mounds, ridges and depressions left after the sea receded gives the course its natural contours, and the 15th hole was part of that evolution. For the player on the tee, the green is blind and the shaped shot, which must battle with the prevailing wind, can be struck with anything from a driver to a nine iron.