The brainchild of American Jerry Savardi, who leads a consortium of his six brothers and assorted investors, The Renaissance Golf Club in East Lothian, which opened in 2008 and has been chiselled out of 300 acres of pine forest, is one of the smartest and most ambitious new links courses in the country. It sees itself up there with the New Firm courses of Loch Lomond, Castle Stuart, Trump International and Kingsbarns, and so do its fantastically well-heeled members.
The first thing is its position, in the heart of the East Lothian golf triangle, a stone’s throw from legendary spots like North Berwick, Luffness and Gullane, and is situated on the Archerfield Estate right next to the hallowed holes belonging to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield (from several positions you can look down onto Scotland’s most exclusive links course).
Enter the club through imposing iron entrance gates before lunching at a sprawling three-storey clubhouse with panoramic views out to sea that looks as if it’s been fashioned on Pebble Beach. The place is the nearest thing we have to a real American country club.
The newer holes down by the Firth of Forth and just after the turn are by far the best holes on the course, occupying as they do a stretch of stunningly scenic ground, and with the Ailsa Craig-like island of Fidra and its lighthouse as a memorable backdrop.
The 10th tee is absolutely breathtaking, although the tee-shot is mildly daunting, especially if your tendency is to hook. If the gloriously 10th is your favourite hole on the course, the par-three 11th is another breathtaking golf hole
Tom Doak the course designer at Renaissance has taken his inspiration from the courses at North Berwick, St Andrews and Muirfield with large greens, old stone dykes and natural contours. Doak said his favourite hazzard is short grass, not water, bunkers or deep rough.
This is the only portion of the historic Archerfield Estate to retain its natural windswept sand dunes. The coastal stretch of the estate has been protected for centuries by a dense pine forest and the natural contours, untouched by the plough have required little earth moving.