Renaissance Golf Club---Archerfield, Scotland
Rankings as of 5/15/2011
-6th best Modern course in Great Britain and Ireland (Golfweek)
A couple of “weird” things are going on with this golf course. First of all, it was designed by Tom Doak. Tom Doak
is THE man in the world of golf course architecture at the moment and everything he touches seems to turn to
gold. However, I believe Renaissance is an under-rated golf course in the Top 100 lists. So the odd thing with this
one is that it is actually an under-rated Tom Doak course. Some other “weird” things are that it is an intensely
private club in Scotland, it is only partially played by the sea, and its use of pre-existing features has been called
Mr. Doak is known for his minimalist golf course design process and this process yields courses that blend
naturally into their environment. Inherent in this is naturally routed courses. Renaissance embraces these
principals. The routing takes the golfer inland at first and away from the sea, then spins them around and heads
them towards the clubhouse, and then leads them to the sea and back again. The routing is natural, pleasing,
then stunning and exciting, and then eases the golfer out of the round.
The tone and tempo of the courses is set on the first hole with great bunkering and a wonderful green. The apex
of the greens occurs on the 8th hole. This is one of those epic Doak greens that you could spend all day on
simply hitting one putt after another. In fact, here is where my 8 iron approach landed after landing on the front
edge of the green.
You can kind of see the undulations of the green in the photo, but the wall is what made me laugh. And, yes, this
wall was there before Doak and his team built the course and was part of the original estate that owned the land
prior the course ever being considered. In fact, this wall comes back into play at the stunning 11th hole. Again,
great green, great bunkering…great hole!
This wall is one of the critics issues with the course and, you know what, that is fine. But be consistent with the
criticism. If you don’t like the wall on a golf course, I hope you criticize North Berwick, Muirfield, and a host of other
Scottish courses for the same design feature. But, of course, these critics don’t.
Making your way from the 11th to the 12th is stunning. In fact, concentrating on golf is difficult. The
inland/meadow feel gives way to the seaside links feel of traditional Scottish courses, and the Firth of Forth comes
into view. This seaside feeling lingers for quite a few holes, although it gets more distant as the holes pass.
Will Renaissance rise in the ranking in the future? Only time will tell. Perhaps a non-storied private Scottish
course will never win over the critics. But who cares? The members surely love the place and will enjoy golf there
for the rest of their lives. Renaissance is a special place.