Scotland’s Renaissance Club: How the modern stacks up against the ancient

The Renaissance Club in North Berwick, Scotland

Scotland is renowned for its centuries-old golf courses, but the Scottish Open has been hosted at one of the modern marvels of Alba since 2019.

The 18 holes of the Renaissance Club are the work of acclaimed American course architect Tom Doak.

Located in East Lothian’s Archerfield Estate, adjacent to Muirfield, the course opened up in 2008.

It was some undertaking to craft the course out of woodland, with property developer Jerry Sarvadi revealing over 8,500 tons of wood was cleared on the site.

The result is 18 spectacular holes carved out of around 300 acres of pine forest, with the number of trees retained ruling the course out for any consideration for True Links status.

If you are hoping the trees offer some respite from the wind, you will likely be disappointed as they are more of a hazard for players than any sort of aid.

In 2013, owners acquired land from the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers in a swap arrangement and used this parcel of ground to craft three new holes, all along the coastline.

The result of that renovation saw the original opening three holes dropped from the old 18-hole layout. These holes are still maintained and used for practice at the club. Further alterations saw the former holes at 12 and 13 combined to fashion the current 12th hole and a new par three was installed as the 15th in the course layout.

The new holes at 9 to 11 are vital to the club and its attraction to players, connecting the course to the coastline in a way that it wasn’t before and undoubtedly enhancing the experience of playing the Renaissance.

That coastal stretch is the crowning glory of a round at Renaissance Club.

It is bookended by par three holes, and this little stretch, along with the preceding 8th hole, could be considered the prime feature of the course.

The par four 10th was a particularly dramatic addition to the Renaissance. Its incredibly tight little ribbon of a fairway and fiercely tilted green sitting tight along the edge of the cliffs, high above the Firth of Forth render this hole both a great challenge and a visual spectacle.

In 2017, The Renaissance Club hosted the 25th edition of the Scottish Senior Open, won by Paul Broadhurst.

Since 2019, The Renaissance Club has been the nominated host venue of the Scottish Open, a stop on both the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour and an important event ahead of The Open in the schedule.

The club staged the Scottish Open for the first time in 2019 when Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger claimed the title after beating Frenchman Benjamin Hebert in a play-off.

Wiesberger and Hebert finished on 22 under, the lowest score to par in the tournament’s history that time around.

England’s Aaron Rai beat compatriot Tommy Fleetwood at the first play-off hole to win the 2020 title after both men finished on 11 under.

At the 2021 Scottish Open, Min Woo Lee from Australia won a three-man play-off to capture his second European Tour title.

The 2022 Scottish Open proved to be the poorest scoring event since moving to the club with Xander Schauffele winning with a seven-under 273 across his four rounds.

In 2023 the venue played host to a great win for Rory McIlroy which ignited hopes of a great challenge at the Open for the Ulsterman.

While the club does have a private membership, visitors can stay at the Estate and play the course but it isn’t the most budget-friendly around given the status of the venue.

A one-time round will set you back between £300-£450 depending on when you slot into the schedule.