Tuesday, January 08, 2008



The Renaissance course, designed by Tom Doak, the American architect, and built in East Lothian at a cost in excess of £20 million, will host a professional event on the Tartan Tour for the first time in October.
Due to open officially in April, the seaside venue at Archerfield will offer a prestigious setting for the finale of a new linksland series of competitions for young professionals backed by a leading figure from the world of golf who prefers to remain anonymous.
The other courses involved in the series are Kingsbarns, Dunbar and Prestwick.
Although it's expected the Renaissance will emerge as a potential European Tour venue once the course matures over the next three to five years – chief executive George O' Grady was among interested visitors last summer – the club is also keen to play a part in developing the sport in Scotland.
Stewart Smith, the director of golf at the club which lies adjacent to Muirfield on the Archerfield estate, said: "We want to be part of the community and involved at the grassroots in Scotland. This is a way for us to showcase the course and give young professionals an opportunity to play on a top quality venue and perhaps help them to develop their careers.
"In the longer run, we would hope to see ourselves as the kind of place which would attract one of the top tournaments. Exactly which professional Tour that would be on remains to be seen, but the course will have to mature first."
Already enjoying the kind of favourable reviews which helped establish Kingsbarns, near St Andrews, as one of the best new courses in Scotland, the Renaissance, which borders the Forth and stands on a parcel of attractive land between the Honourable Company and Archerfield – you can spy the fifth green at Muirfield from the tenth tee at the Renaissance – is the brainchild of American businessman Jerry Sarvadi.
A native of Ponte Vedra in Florida and a past club champion at Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship, Jerry and his brother Paul enlisted American golf architect Tom Doak to design a links style lay-out which would draw members from around the world.
Although prospective members must pay a bond of £50,000 to join, so far the majority of golfers signing up are Scots.
Having once spent nearly a year in Scotland playing the great links and devoting particular attention to the intricacies of the Old Course, where he worked as a caddie, Doak has earned a reputation in the world of golf course design as a radical traditionalist.
Certainly, the back nine at the Renaissance more closely echoes the nuances of its subtle neighbours in East Lothian than might have been expected from a project financed and conceived on the other side of the Atlantic.
A huge admirer of both Muirfield and North Berwick, Doak's enthusiasm for the latter is acknowledged by the stone walls which cross a couple of holes at the Renaissance. Although located 200 yards or so from the actual linksland – the front nine is tree lined – Doak sees the course as possessing many of the same virtues and characteristics as a links.
As land of historic interest, the 300 acres of the Renaissance club will add another piece of the golfing jigsaw in East Lothian to the treasure trove which starts with Luffness and Gullane, moves onto Muirfield, crosses over to Archerfield and ends up in North Berwick.
Gordon Dewar, secretary of the Scottish region of the PGA, was understandably delighted yesterday to welcome the Renaissance onto the Tartan Tour schedule and believes the opportunity for young pros to test their skills on some of the country's finest links is a significant step forward.




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