Updated: May 21, 2015
North Berwick Golf Links - Review on Playing the Course:We weren't originally supposed to play at North Berwick Golf Links. Our golf vacation in 2010 had been quite the experience and then it got even better. The volcanic ash cloud from Iceland forced us to delay our departure from Scotland so we had some extra days to play more golf. A few days before we had played at Muirfield out in Gullane and after the round we had driven a bit further out towards North Berwick to see what it was like. The locals had said it was a great location and worth seeing. After our flights were delayed almost a week, we decided to stop sitting around the hotel and get out and play at North Berwick. The North Berwick golf club was founded way back in 1832 - so this place has been here forever in golf terms. The West Links, as they call the course, is right up along the coast.
The pro shop at the course is literally built into the side of the ground, perhaps for protection from the wind and rain, or maybe over time it has slowly been engulfed by blowing dirt and sand. The clubhouse (recently redone in 2008) looked beautiful, especially as you approach the 18th green and have the building in the backdrop. The first few holes take you along the water. We had excellent weather so we enjoyed the views both east and west as well as north. The Firth of Forth is right out to your side as you play the coastline holes. We heard that on typical windy days, the course can be brutal. Throw in some rain and it plays very difficult. They have held the British Senior Open here before - but nothing since 1988. I felt the course was fair - not too many fairway bunkers and greens that are average speed. There are some quirky holes along the way - few burns to cross over - even a wall that separates the fairway from the green. Each hole has a name associated with it on the scorecard. First hole is Point Garry (out), 2nd is Sea, third is Trap, and so on. The 13th hole is perhaps the most memorable on the course - it's called the Pit. It plays to about 360 yards, but the hard part is the approach. The hole itself is a slight dogleg left. Hit the fairway and you have a chance to carry the stone wall that lies in front of the green. Otherwise you have decisions to be made. From the fairway it's hard to see how much room is on the other side of the wall where the green is. You literally have a blind shot to the putting surface. None of us reach successfully in two shots, although we all made it in 3. Interesting hole to say the least. The home hole is a little reminiscent of the 18th at St. Andrews. You have a 'valley of sin' sunken fairway right in front of the green. The hole is short - barely 270 yards, so a good drive can reach the green. With OB (and the parking lot) along the right side, it's still a tough tee shot. I drove far left and putted from about 60 yards onto the green and proceeded to 2 putt for a par. Cool finishing hole. Be sure to take pictures along the course as some views are incredible. On a sunny day you get the green course, the water background, and the red flags to highlight any photo. The official website for the course is at http://www.northberwickgolfclub.com. The website has a hole by hole analysis with "pros tips" and a map of the hole layout.