The Scottish Open Helps the Renaissance Club Step Out From Its Neighbor’s Shadow

If you truly are recognized by the agency you keep, the Renaissance Club positively obtained off on the correct foot.

As Jerry Sarvadi, an American, and fellow consumers began to tell buddies years in the previous about the course that they had been establishing in Scotland, the first question just about always sought to know the place.

The reply: Right subsequent to Muirfield.

Yes, that Muirfield. The 128-year home of the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and host of the British Open on 16 occasions, most recently in 2013.

Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Nick Faldo, and Phil Mickelson have been amongst the champions there.

“To be able to tell people, ‘Literally next door,’ ” Sarvadi acknowledged, “it’s given us an identity as far as location.”

Eventually, though, it is not adequate to simply keep in your neighbor’s shadow.

The Renaissance Club shortly carved its private space of curiosity, now with larger than 250 members drawn by the Tom Doak design, lovely views of the Firth of Forth and trendy touches not found amongst its older neighbors.

This week, the membership has the various to introduce itself to wider viewers as host of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.

“It’s the national Open of Scotland,” acknowledged Sarvadi, now the membership’s managing director. “There’s only a couple of others that get the TV coverage this one has. It’s pretty unique. We’re excited about it.”

As a remaining tune-up sooner than subsequent week’s British Open, the lineup has attracted not lower than 16 of the prime players in the world rankings. Among them are the British Open winners Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson. Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar, and Rickie Fowler are moreover scheduled to play.

Three weeks later, the Ladies Scottish Open will in all probability be carried out over the same construction.

“It’s in a real links golf paradise,” acknowledged Stenson, the 2016 British Open winner, “just along the coast from Muirfield and so many other great courses.”

The East Lothian shoreline east of Edinburgh is definitely one among golf’s geographic gems. The stretch begins in Gullane, the place Gullane Golf Club is embraced as the “people’s club” in distinction with the ultra-private Muirfield. Last yr’s Scottish Opens had been carried out at Gullane.

There will be North Berwick Golf Club, the place the recreation has been carried out on its West Links since 1832. Too temporary for the modern skilled, it’s a draw for golf vacationers for its ingenious downside and delightful holes alongside the sea.

“It’s a nice neighborhood. Two of my favorite courses in the world are on either side,” Doak acknowledged, referring to Muirfield and North Berwick.

“Clearly you’re being held to a very high standard in that neighborhood.”

The problem gave Doak, who had already designed Pacific Dunes and Sebonack in the United States, Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand and Barnbougle Dunes in Australia, his first various in Scotland.

Doak spent a yr after school discovering out the applications of Britain and Ireland, which helped type his minimalist design philosophy.

First, though, Doak’s group wanted to revive the hyperlinks land. Sarvadi acknowledged huge stands of pine and sycamore had been planted by Britain’s Forestry Commission shortly after World War II.

“Prior to the trees’ being here, it was all links dunes land,” acknowledged Sarvadi, who retired to Florida after a career in the oil and gasoline enterprise.

He acknowledged when the stumps had been pulled out, ”sand would merely fall off. It was 100 p.c sand.”

That hidden aspect might need to be been what saved golf from being developed on the property sooner. Sarvadi first heard of the track in April 2002 whereas on a golf outing collectively together with his brothers and buddies.

One of them was Don Lewis, whose father-in-law helped found Muirfield Village with Nicklaus near Columbus, Ohio.

“We’re drinking wine late at night and he says, ‘You guys want to build a golf course in Scotland?’ ” Sarvadi recalled. “Yeah, where?”

Sarvadi flew out for a look. Within three years, he acknowledged he had the financing, and papers had been signed for a 99-year lease. Construction began the subsequent January.

Doak acknowledged his largest downside received right here in designing holes for match execs whereas nonetheless delivering a high-end experience for members.

“In the States, if you want to build a course to host a tournament, you’d hire Jack Nicklaus or Pete Dye,” he acknowledged.

Doak acknowledged he always constructed applications with holes which may be “a wake-up call for the best players. But I never want to build 18 holes that feel that way.”

Significant tournaments always have been in the advertising and marketing technique of the Renaissance Club. It helped stage the 2016 Boys Amateur Championship and adopted with the Scottish Senior Open a yr later. Last yr, it was definitely one among 4 web sites for British Open remaining qualifying.

“We appreciate all the history and tradition,” Sarvadi acknowledged. “At the same time, we wanted to build something that would be able to stand on its own.”

With completely different Doak duties on winter hiatus, “almost his whole team came over” for quite a lot of months, Sarvadi acknowledged. The course opened in 2008.

Even then, Sarvadi and Doak knew it had bigger potential. At the northern end of the property was a triangle of land owned by the Honorable Company, adequate to design three seaside holes. At the related time, the Honorable Company wished acreage on Sarvadi’s tract that ignored Muirfield, so a land swap was organized.

He acknowledged it took until 2011 for the environmental authorities to approve establishing the seaside holes. Those holes had been constructed into the middle of the routing, though they’ll play as Nos. 3-5 for a rerouted Scottish Open.

Two scenic par-3s bookend No. 4, a sweeping par-4 that curves alongside the fringe of a cliff, luring golfers to chew off as quite a bit as they dare to rearrange a second shot to an inexperienced set tight to the cliff’s edge.

As with any British event, the local weather seems the largest concern. Sarvadi recalled Saturday of the 2002 British Open at Muirfield when a wintry storm despatched temperatures plunging and golfers trying to find shelter on the course.

“It would be really bad luck if that happened,” he acknowledged.

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