Scottish golf course: The Renaissance Club
Just nine years after a golf ball first landed on its fairways, the Renaissance Club in East Lothian has already been chosen as a final qualification venue for the open championship, 2018–2022.
(Photograph: Kevin Murray)
If you keep a bucket list, then the Renaissance Club is certainly another destination to add.
Scotland is a country renowned for its prestigious golf courses, particularly in East Lothian – known as Scotland’s golf coast. So the club’s founder and CEO, Jerry Sarvadi, was at first a little sceptical after a conversation with friend Don Lewis – whose father-in-law was mentor to legendary golfer and course designer Jack Nicklaus – during a family golfing holiday at Pinehurst in 2002. Don thought it would be an excellent idea for the Sarvadi family to create a course in Scotland. Initially, Jerry was a tad bemused, but when he was invited to play a few months later at Muirfield for the first time, and glanced over the stone wall which divided the land Don had advised him to buy, the 67-year-old Houston businessman saw huge potential.
It didn’t take long for the initial plans to be made, and a collective long-term dream to create a world-class, tournament-quality venue was born.
Of course, to achieve such lofty heights requires a lot of time and effort. Jerry alone travelled across the Atlantic Ocean from Texas to Edinburgh around 20 times before permission was granted. And so it wasn’t until 2008 – after dozens of planning meetings, redesigns and developments – that the first ball landed on the fairway. Five years later, the clubhouse was fully completed, too. That achievement is commendable in itself, but to be mentioned in the same breath as the historical St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Muirfield, Turnberry and such, plus being named as a final qualification venue for The Open Championship from 2018–2022 in less than a decade since its creation, the club has achieved far more than anyone could have anticipated.
And it is still moving forward. They have recently closed a transaction which will make the club 100 per cent member-owned and governed, after a group of major investors increased their investment to retire the third ownership interest of Archerfield Estates Limited, an entity who are very happy to remain the club’s landlord. This third interest is now being offered to members, and a board of directors representative of the membership is to be incorporated into the club’s structure. “This is an exciting time for the club”, says Jerry. “We believe the change of ownership structure allowing our members to become equity participants in the partnership will be another step towards our long-term goals.”
The club is already extremely exclusive. To become a member you must be invited by an existing member. There are no signposts to direct you to the club and the high gates deter any uninvited guests. In addition to the personable staff, caddies are available to help guide you through the 18-hole championship course. Post play, you can relax in the bar or spa, enjoy the sauna and steam rooms, gym or driving range, and indulge in the great food and hefty wine list. This new course really does epitomise the future of links golf.
What’s more, this bucket list destination is now much more attainable. You don’t have to be a member or someone of PGA Tour standard to play the course thanks to the new ‘One Time Experience’ package, which allows non-members to enter the club on an agreed date and be treated as if they were a lifetime member with full access to all facilities.