The North Berwick Golf Club


Official Website 1997 - 2004

Secretary : John Douglass Tel : 01620 895040 Fax : 01620 890312
Advance Bookings Tel : 01620 892135 Fax : 01620 893274
Clubhouse Tel : 01620 894766
Starter Tel : 01620 892666

E-mail :

NBGC 1835
Golf at North Berwick "1835" by Sir Francis Grant.

NBGC clubhouse


The North Berwick Golf Club is the thirteenth oldest in the world, founded in 1832 by a group of local landowners and gentlemen, among them a soldier who fought in Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo.

A list of past captains on the wall in the clubhouse proudly displays a distinguished past - Knights, Earls, Lords, Marquis and a former British Prime Minister, A.J.Balfour.
This heritage is still reflected in the present membership.

The WEST LINKS was originally six holes and a seventh was added before it was extended to 18 holes in 1877. By 1895 the course was lengthened, and today measures 6420 yards S.S.S 72. Not the longest, but the trickery of the course requires the full repertoire of shot making.

NBGC scorecard
NBGC Scorecard 2002.

A true links course laid out on a raised-beach, laden with brown sand forming the undulating links land 1 0 to 3 0 feet above sea level.

Although the architect is unknown many of the holes have been copied by designers all over the world, including the 376 yard 14th named "Perfection" and the 192 yard 15th called "Redan". A golfing experience not found anywhere else, with blind holes, drives over walls and burns, shots over the bay and bunkers deep enough for the golfer to disappear from view.

The North Berwick Golf Club is the thirteenth oldest golf club, second only to St Andrews for continuous play over the same course.

Not only is the links venerable but it is one of the most attractive and stimulating links courses anywhere, with every hole setting a different problem of length, judgement, skill and direction.

An Open qualifying course, North Berwick's West Links has an antiquated charm all its own with walls, burns, yawning bunkers and in No. 15, 'Redan', probably the most frequently copied short hole in the world.

NBGC 4th green with view of Bass Rock
4th green with view of Bass Rock

The long 11th was also unashamedly reproduced by Donald Ross as Seminole's 18th (Florida, USA). The 12th, 'Bass' embodies risk/reward strategy at its finest while the 13th, 'Pit' combines strategic dimensions with old world quirkiness.

After 'Perfection', the 14th, the golfer moves on to the world famous 'Redan', a 192 yard par 3, that Bernard Darwin described more than 85 years ago as "a beautiful one shot hole atop a plateau with a bunker short of the green, to the left, and another further on to the right, and we must vary our mode of attack according to the wind, playing a shot to come in from the right or making a direct frontal attack".

The West Links is a true links with commanding views of the sea, over great wide sandy beaches, across the dark rocky islets of the Forth estuary to the green-hilled Fife coast, the volcanic grey and white streaked hump of the Bass Rock and distant May Island on the horizon.

The Clubhouse
The Clubhouse is built upon the site of the old North Berwick road toll house where it was necessary for visitors to pay to enter the Royal Burgh of North Berwick. The Clubhouse was opened in 1882 and retains much of its originality and the photographs of the past captains of the club read like an A-Z of British nobility.

NBGC dining room
Dining Room

The Club does not have a "spike" bar and it is necessary to ensure that smart casual attire is worn. No golf shoes of any type are permitted within the clubhouse.

A Little bit of history.
In the early days Challenge or Brag matches played between the leading professionals attracted over 8,000 spectators to the West Links.

One such challenge was held in September 1875 between Willie Park and his brother Mungo against the Tom Morrises, Old and Young. The match ended abruptly when a telegram arrived with the news that Young Tom's wife was seriously ill across the Firth of Forth in St. Andrews following the birth of their child.

The Morrises set off for home, but before they could board the yacht put at their disposal by an Edinburgh man who had been in the gallery, a second message arrived with the tragic news that mother and son had both died. Old Tom did not break the sad news to his son until they were in sight of the pier at St. Andrews and the effect was so devastating that Young Tom never recovered, dying three months later on Christmas morning, at the age of 25.
An annual match is held between The New Club of St Andrews and the North Berwick Golf Club to commemorate this tragic event.


The Children's course was constructed in 1888 as a Ladies course, when a field on the Archerfield Estate was secured and laid out as a nine hole course. The Golf Book of East Lothian describes the course in part as follows:

"The situation of the course is delightful, the view of North Berwick and the Forth being the best to be had, while the undulating of the ground makes play interesting and the proximity of the gentlemens' links imparts additional liveliness to the scene. The formal opening of the course was done by Sir Walter Dalrymple, lord of the manor on a sunny day in June, 1888, it was quite a gay fashionable event........

The green fee is kept low to encourage children to take up the game and become reasonably proficient prior to venturing on to the 18 hole course.

Rt hon A.J. Balfour
The Rt. Hon. A.J. Balfour, M.P. During a Medal Competition on the West Links 1906.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the amazing growth in the popularity of golf throughout the country has been attributed to Arthur J. Balfour, a resident in the area and captain of the North Berwick Golf Club from 1891-92. He was a leading politician and Prime Minister from 1902 to 1905 and endorsed the game at every opportunity. Known as the 'Father of English Golf' or as the satirical Punch cartoon christened him Arthur Golfour.

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