SCOTLAND'S NORTH BERWICK West Links

SCOTLAND'S NORTH BERWICK West Links

North Berwick, Scotland is golfing heaven

One green is guarded by stone walls, another has a two-foot-deep trench running through its centre.

NORTH BERWICK, Scotland — Does heaven exist?

Let’s leave that one aside and talk about golf heaven instead. Oh, we know it exists. The question is, which part of Scotland is most sublime?

Some will say St. Andrews, or maybe the wild west coast or elemental northeast. My vote at the moment is for the area just east of Edinburgh, centred around the seaside village of North Berwick.

I’m standing on one of the world’s oldest (and best, and most underrated) golf courses, which might have something to do with it.

North Berwick West Links was laid out early in the 19th century, and despite playing almost exactly as it did at the turn of the 20th, still challenges top players while giving less-than-top ones like me the round of a lifetime. This is golf before the game became pasteurized and homogenized.

One green is guarded by stone walls, another has a two-foot-deep trench running through its centre. The par-three 15th — “Redan” — may be the most copied hole in the game.

And North Berwick West is just one of roughly a dozen seaside links stretching along the south shore of the Firth of Forth. Muirfield is in the Open Championship rota, and Old Musselburgh lays claim to a hotly contested title of the oldest golf course still extant, its origins in 1672 predating the current layout at St. Andrews.

(Moreover, Mary Queen of Scots was known to have knocked a ball around here a century before even that, so there.) Throw in Dunbar and North Berwick’s Glen course, to name just a couple, and this is easily one of the finest arrays on the globe.

I could go on, but the appeal of North Berwick extends even beyond its courses. The town is mere minutes from Edinburgh by commuter train, and the Scottish capital has a thing or two going for it from a tourist’s point of view.

For another, North Berwick puts the lie to the idea that eating in Scotland is a less than pleasant adventure. That commuter train figures in again.

Most of the traffic is in fact the other way around — carrying prosperous executives back and forth from their jobs in the city to their seaside homes in charming North Berwick — and the town’s eateries reflect this reality.

Fast food outlets have been outlawed, humble pubs feature chef-driven menus, and good white-tablecloth restaurants abound. The town and immediate area are also home to a couple of prominent tourist attractions: the Scottish Seabird Centre, its telescopes trained on the puffins that inhabit a nearby island, and the National Museum of Flight, complete with a now-grounded Concorde.

Oh, not everything is perfect here in golf heaven — my shot here on the Redan, for example. Going against all wisdom, I’ve attempted to fly the pin from 180 yards, and my six-iron has come up inches short.

Given that my next shot will be out of the bunker from hell, the true question this moment is, why am I so content?

Access

For more information on the courses mentioned visit the Golf East Lothian website at www.golfeastlothian.com.

For information on travel in Scotland go to the Visit Scotland website at www.visitscotland.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Geoff Garbutt takes over as City of Courtenay CAO on April 14. Photo supplied
Courtenay council selects new city CAO

A new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) will be joining the City of… Continue reading

Two vehicles collided Wednesday morning north of Courtenay on the Old Island Highway. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Two-car MVA north of Courtenay

Accident took place after 7 a.m. on the Old Island Highway

COVID cases in the Bella Coola Valley have dropped to just four active cases (file photo)
Comox Valley COVID spike the result of ‘a series of multiple social gatherings’

North Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns says the recent spike… Continue reading

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

A 19-year-old man is in police custody following a recent violent robbery and assault in Comox . (File photo)
Arrest made in violent robbery and assault of Comox gas station employee

A 19-year old man is in police custody following a recent violent… Continue reading

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

A conceptual drawing of the preferred conveyance route for the Comox Valley Sewer Service.
Preferred conveyance route chosen for Comox Valley Sewer Service

The Comox Valley Sewage Commission approved a plan Tuesday to upgrade the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

Justin Morissette is still recovering from the injuries sustained in the altercation. He is not yet able to walk without assistance. (Justin Morissette, Twitter)
B.C. man suing city and police over violent altercation with anti-LGBTQ preacher

Justin Morissette argues police knew the threat the preacher posed, and failed to keep the peace

Mowi Canada West salmon farm in B.C. waters. Conservative MPs have backed an industry call for further discussions on the timeline for closing Discovery Island farms. (Photo supplied by Mowi Canada)
Conservative MPs back B.C. salmon farmers’ call for transparent discussions

Farm owners requested consultations, more time to leave Discovery Islands

Most Read