The Takeaway: Neighbors with famed Muirfield, The Renaissance Club offers a different experience in design and concept than Muirfield. While not as compelling as other newer Scotland designs Kingsbarns or Castle Stuart, Renaissance is a high quality design with holes 9-11 being jaw droppers. Grade A-
Designer: Tom Doak 2008
Cost: Private Click for membership information
Phone Number: +44 1620 850901
Course Website: Official Website - Visit The Renaissance Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - Cowden Hill Dr, North Berwick, EH39 5HS – UNITED KINGDOM
Photos: See additional photos of The Renaissance Club
What to Expect: Tom Doak’s lone design in the country recognized as being the home of golf, The Renaissance Club has quickly gained notoriety for being the annual host of the Scottish Open since 2019. Since the course wasn’t originally designed to host the pros, several changes have been implemented to combat the length and strategy utilized by the finest players in the world. Doak utilized the education from The Renaissance Club to work with Brooks Koepka in the renovation of Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston which was specifically designed to be the venue for the PGA Tour after previously being hosted by the Golf Club of Houston. Similar to Sebonack where Doak was given the daunting task of designing a course worthy of its more famous neighbors, Shinnecock Hills and National Golf Links of America, The Renaissance Club borders Muirfield and is a couple minutes from North Berwick. But Renaissance is a different animal than Muirfield with more undulated greens, less defined driving lines, and newer holes (9-11) directly on the coastline. After a bit of a slow start, the course gets more interesting starting on the 6th hole and does well to keep player's interest through the closer. Interestingly, a stone wall runs through the course which I assumed was Doak's effort to give the course an old feel; but the wall was unearthed during construction and assumed to be an old farming boundary dating back over 400 years. Overall, The Renaissance Club is a very good course but doesn't quite feature the character, intrigue, or setting of other newer designs in Scotland such as Kingsbarns or Castle Stuart. As is common with most courses in the UK, players will be required to walk but can take a trolley to help tote their clubs around while a forecaddie is required to help guide your group around the course.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 9th Hole – 204 Yard Par 3 – A beautiful uphill par three that plays northeasterly with the North Sea setting the background. When the wind is coming off the player's right side it can call for shots to start towards the old relic wall and two bunkers before drifting towards the putting surface. The circular green calls for players to aim at the center of the putting surface regardless of the pin placement and then put your flatstick to work. The walk up to the green where the North Sea and Fidra Island come into view is inspiring to say the least.
Best Par 3: 11th Hole – 161 Yards – Just two holes after Renaissance Club's most famous par three, the 11th delivers with another full eye candy experience. This short downhill one-shotter plays into the prevailing wind and features the beautiful Firth of Forth as the backdrop while a wall rests right behind the green. Balls tend to balloon here given the amount of spin put on the ball with a short club, so flighting the ball down to bore through the wind is the optimal play. A large tier splits the right side from the left, so not only is distance control critical while attacking this shallow green, but getting on the proper tier is your best bet to combat a three-putt. At a time where long par threes have become en vogue, this short one-shotter is a hole that everyone can enjoy.
Best Par 4: 10th Hole – 418 Yards – Perhaps the best hole on the property, the cape 10th is not only visually stunning but provides an excellent risk/reward opportunity. The tee shot plays along the coast of the Firth of Forth with the fairway doglegging left and narrowing towards the green. With the prevailing wind at your back, it is a great time to grip it and rip it with the chance of chasing your tee ball up near the putting surface. On a calm day, or when the wind is moving differently than the prevailing direction, players may elect to layup to the wide part of the fairway before attacking the bunkerless green on their second shot. As the middle of Renaissance Club's finest three hole stretch, there is nothing about this hole that disappoints.
Best Par 5: 13th Hole – 585 Yards – All the trouble is down the left side with four bunkers coming into play on the drive and a single bunker next to the green. The rolling fairway gently bends to the left along a tree line while tee shots that hang out to the right can quickly get lost in the fescue jungle. The approach plays to a green set below the fairway and allows for players to chase one up onto the putting surface if they can reach the backside of the last hill before the green. The heart-shaped green can create some unique pin positions with the one in the back left being the most difficult to get close to.
Birdie Time: 5th Hole – 338 Yard Par 4 – The shortest par four on the course, the 5th tips out at 338 yards and is reachable under the proper conditions. An old wall that was unearthed during excavation of the course pinches each side of the fairway and should be laid up short of if you don't have a legitimate chance of reaching the green. When attacking the flag, take into consideration the mounding of the green to position yourself in the proper bowl. Utilizing the undulations can feed a ball close enough on your second shot to tap in your third. However, getting out of position on the green can quickly turn into a situation where walking away with a par feels like an accomplishment. Ultimately though, this short hole should be taken advantage of and 3s should be flying.
Bogey Beware: 8th Hole – 511 Yard Par 4 – A strong uphill par four before embarking on Renaissance's famous three hole stretch, Doak wants your best game here. The fairway bends to the right with a series of moguls and trees providing some protection from players challenging the corner. Players who bail out to the left will face a lengthy approach shot that will make it extremely difficult to find a green on the second shot. The heavily undulated putting surface is further protected by five bunkers as well as the relic wall to create a lot of trouble and distraction. Players that can reach the green in two can just as quickly three-putt enroute to a bogey, so you have to be on top of every aspect of your game from start to finish. Walking away with a par here is an impressive feat.