Ireland’s in our rear-view mirror — it’s on to the world-famous East Lothian region of Scotland.
East Lothian is home to St. Andrews, Muirfield, North Berwick and the new kid on the block — The Renaissance Club.
It might surprise you to know that there’s a world class venue sitting next door to one of the ultimate world class links courses — Muirfield. We all know Muirfield — headquarters of The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.
Muirfield is the favorite course of one Jack W. Nicklaus. His hometown headquarters (Muirfield Village) bears its name.
The Renaissance Club along with famous neighbor North Berwick (pronounced Bear-ick) are a short train hop from downtown Edinburgh.
The European Tour converges on The Renaissance Club this week for the Scottish Open, the last prep before next week’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
The course looks like its been sitting there on the Firth Of Forth for a long time. Truth be known, it’s an infant in the world of Scottish golf.
The club sits on property owned by the Duke of Hamilton family. Pretty cool, you must admit. It gives the club some history cred for sure. The entire complex is on a 99-year lease from the Hamilton’s controlling trust. How this course/private club came to be is another story.
In 2002, on a golf trip to Pinehurst, the Duke of Hamilton’s representatives met with the Sarvadi family, pitching the idea of building a course in Scotland. After initially blowing off the proposal as a bit on the crazy side, the golfing Sarvadi brothers quickly realized they had a unique opportunity to build a course in the most historic golfing neighborhood in the world, on arguably the finest and most architecturally interesting links land in Scotland. Their old man liked spending time with his boys on the golf course and the chance to leave a legacy was too great to pass.
The land is only a small part of the 1,000 acres controlled by the Duke’s descendants. Tom Doak was hired and he was excited as all get-out with the chance to build his first course in Scotland.
The club opened in April 2008 when the world economies were in the crapper. The club’s survival is a testament to the financial backing of the well-heeled private investors.
This week, a world-class golf course welcomes the European Tour and its biggest name — Rory McIlroy.
Rory-boy left the good folks in Ireland with empty hearts last week as he missed the Irish Open for the first time as a professional. Ireland’s loss is Scotland’s gain as McIlroy is the big-name star in this week’s field.
Of course the 2015 Scottish Open champion is there. Rickie Fowler brings ’em out of the heather and the gorse — everyone loves Rickie — world-wide.
Justin Thomas is showing up at this event for the first time and Matt Kuchar, the famous caddie-stiffer and Fed-Ex points leader, is in the field.
They’ll work their way around a 7,300-yard course that features some dramatic holes overlooking The Firth. Land was obtained from the goodly men (and women) of Muirfield to create three spectacular cliff holes at the turn.
It’s surprising that more of the big names aren’t using this week to get used to the links experience and the time difference.
Tiger Woods has been getting up every morning at 1 a.m. and who knows what Brooks Koepka is up to?
Doesn’t matter, starting Thursday, it’s up early for some world-class links golf and a close-up look at Rory-boy.
Just one short week to go.
This is getting good.