Photos by Patrick Koenig
Unless you’re extremely passionate about all-things Scottish golf, you’ve probably heard very little about North Berwick Golf Club, if at all. Even if you’ve read a fair amount about St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Turnberry and other well-known heavy-hitters, North Berwick exists off the beaten path despite its history, its location and its unique beauty.
The West Links Course at North Berwick Golf Club is the world’s third-oldest golf course — only St. Andrews (Old) and Musselburgh (Old) are older. The course still plays over its original fairways and its original architect is unknown. Located along the Firth of Forth, the sea comes into play on six holes (!), and the course begins and ends directly adjacent to the town of North Berwick. All 18 holes at the 6,500-yard track present unique design features that stimulate a golfer’s creative juices. From rock walls that snake across and along several holes to huge swales that dissect greens, every shot is met with challenges that can be both fun and frustrating at once. Visitors aren’t allowed to play the course from the tips, so the three single-digit handicappers I played with teed it up from the white tees, which measure 6,140 yards. That might seem short, but it was plenty difficult.
The course, which is pronounced “North Berr-ick,” also offers the most-copied hole in golf. The 190-yard 15th hole is the original redan. By definition, a redan generally refers to a green that slopes from right to left and wraps around a deep bunker situated on the low-left side, and ever since originating at North Berwick, the redan has been replicated more than any other design in golf.
I’d barely heard about North Berwick before arranging an eight-person golf trip to Scotland (my first time visiting the country), and it was, by far, the most unique course I played. I teed it up there with friend and photographer Patrick Koenig, whose photos and captions below illustrate the stunning beauty of this 140-year-old track. You can find Patrick on both Instagram and Twitter. —Ashley Mayo
Patrick Koenig continues to travel the world to play golf, photographing his experiences in gorgeous ways. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter if you’re interested in keeping up with his latest adventures.