Tourist Sauce (Scotland Golf): Episode 2, North Berwick

Crooked Tron setting up a bumper for his
drive on 18 In the first episode of this season you
heard Randy worrying about whether Scotland would live up to his
expectations. He took to Scotland quite nicely. “Trying some black pudding. D.J. said it’s blood of some sort.” “That’s really good.” “What blood type are you?” “O positive.” “There’s not a whole lot
of us.” “I don’t know if I am or not.” “All right, here we go this is haggis.” “It’s like sheep intestine among other
things.” “One bite, everyone knows the rules.” “I don’t know what that means.” “Traveling east the
jet lag gets very real and it was tough to pull ourselves away from our beds at
the Ducks Inn. But it’s a little easier to do so when you know you’re headed North Berwick. Listen I know we can tend to get a
little hyperbolic at times. “Best par I’ve ever made in my life.” “World’s best turf.” “The best in the entire world anywhere.” But I’m gonna try to keep my
views on North Berwick very coldly objective and in perspective. “I don’t say this lightly
I think this is my favorite golf course in the world.” All right maybe not.
“First impressions?” “I might stroke out.” “I’m worried for Randy’s safety to be honest.” Like most of the
small Scottish towns are gonna see this season North Berwick is a completely golf-obsessed place. It became a holiday town, almost like a Scottish version of the
Hamptons in the 1800s because of its beaches and of course its golf courses.
The North Berwick club itself held its first meeting in 1832 making it the 13th
oldest club in the world today. There were 28 original members that played
North Berwick’s six hole course back then in 1832. In its early days it became a
popular spot for exhibition matches between people like Old Tom Morris, Allen
Robertson, Willie and Tom Dunne and others. In fact the whole history of the club is
littered with names that golf nuts will recognize. The course was a meeting place for the who’s who of East Lothian. It still kind of is. This was my favorite
bit I found while I was reading about North Berwick. It said quote, “It is recorded that on a certain day in 1903 there were in the course of play at the same time
on the west links the prime minister, the Speaker of the House of Commons, two
members of parliament, two bishops of the Church of England three eminent
professors, a field marshal two generals and a famous Tibetan Explorer.” Not bad. Although, I’m sure the day that No Laying Up visited will be remembered
similarly in the annals of history. One can only wonder the last time that a
renowned takesmith, a critically acclaimed podcaster, an American
Slenderman an international golf superstar and their consigliere all
visited the West links on the same day. It’s truly historic stuff. The history is one thing but any
conversation about North Berwick almost immediately leads to a discussion about
the quirkiness of the golf course. So you want to hit it max like 170 from
this tee. Downwind, firm running firm it would be like a wedge. I’m gonna go for it come on. I mean it’s 260 carry over that thing.” “I’m weak.” Can we talk how great golf in Scotland is that we said 8-iron might be too much off the tee on
a par 4? For instance it’s totally possible to hit a wipey fade down onto
the beach and then try to play it. “The first time you play you don’t really
realize that playing close to the hazard is the best play gives you the best
angle.” You get in this mood where you just try to hit golf shots just to see if you can hit them.
You even have that mindset when you’re facing a shot that you know is
physically, completely impossible and it just doesn’t matter. You have to think about
protecting yourself from the ricochets off stone walls. We made up a specific game for long
trips like this that we like to call Tilt. It’s a very modified Stableford
game where you earn a number of points for whatever score you make on each hole. But then the catch comes when you make a net birdie. That’s when you go on tilt
and your next hole is worth double. If you make another one your next hole is
worth triple and so on. It’s a game that really causes big swings either way.
We’ve seen Neil get all the way up to 7x before and at North Berwick we saw Randy
make the turn in the lead with 52 points and then finish the day in last with 36.
Big shout out to Icarito there. I’ve played North Berwick four or five
times in my life and I couldn’t tell you what I’ve shot ever there ever. You
just get so sidetracked with all the other fun shots that you just want to
try to hit. This type of golf certainly isn’t for everyone and that’s fine. If
you wanted to take a swing at North Berwick, I suppose it would be that the
front side is far less dramatic than the back side, which might make it feel a
little unbalanced. But the flipside of that argument is that the back side is
just that good and that’s we’re gonna walk through now. And because I’m driving
the ship I’m gonna say that the back side technically starts on the ninth
hole. The course is a very traditional nine out nine in type of links routing
and the ninth hole is that turn on the far side of the track that makes you
just want to slam your foot on the gas down the homestretch. I’m not a racing
guy I don’t know if that analogy makes sense but it just it makes you want to
go fast. The ninth is a wonderfully simple par-5 with a dramatically
elevated green. It features the baked in strategy of two perfect centerline
bunkers, which is something that always gets the whole NLU crew all hot and
bothered. From there you make the very literal
turn onto the back nine. The prevailing wind is into you for almost the entire
front nine, which means that the whole back nine you’re coasting downwind at
full speed and feeling like a goddamn superhero. The tenth hole is a downhill
par-3 that can either make you feel destined to make an ace or a triple
depending on where the pin is. The eleventh is another par-5 that’s
extremely friendly to the wipey fade. It’s reachable in two but approach shots are gobbled up by an absolute death bunker on the right side of the green. Number
twelve, Bass, can make the wind feel like a jigsaw puzzle as you’re trying to
figure out just how much to cut off and how to avoid the well-placed bunkering.
And then you have to try to stop a downhill, downwind shot on the green. And that brings us to what is probably the most famous hole at North Berwick, the
13th, Pit. The tip in the yardage book might sum it up best. It says “don’t
argue with the wall, it’s older than you.” In reality if you put a good
drive in the fairway the wall doesn’t even exist. You just knock a short iron
on to the punchbowl-y kind of green. The problem comes as your tee shot gets
farther away from the wall. The longer the second shot, the more of a chance you have of being absolutely Mutumbo’d by the wall, which definitely happens.
That’s when things start to move really quickly for you. Then you’re faced with
trying to hit a flop shot up over this wall off of turf that’s as firm as a car
park. This hole is very fun. Hole number 14 is boldly named Perfection and
it’s frankly really tough to argue. The hole is all about placing your tee shot
in the fairway and then firing a hero shot into the blind green. It’s not really
until the second time you play this hole that you realize just how much this hole
is about using the ground, especially on your second shot. “How good is that?” The 15th hole is the Redan, a word you
surely have heard exported around the rest of the world. It became one of the
most famous templates of Seth Raynor and C.B. MacDonald and if the pin is down on
the left side it’s one of the most fun shots there is. It challenges you to play
toward the slope on the far right side of the green if you really want to get
the ball close. Number 16 features a green so comically insane that it’s
impossible to be upset at how difficult it is. even the yardage book there says you either need accuracy or luck to succeed. The 17th is a gorgeous par 4 with a
wild trench bunker and a semi Punchbowl green. And the 18th is the ultimate half
par finishing hole. It’s only 269 yards from the member tees making it drivable
for the everyman. “All right Matt we’re good we don’t have to show this one. You really… like you don’t have to keep showing it it’s fine.
I don’t think people… this isn’t really what they’re looking to see. All right
you can see it one more time and then let’s let’s move on. We’ve got other
things to talk about.” With a patio of members watching you want nothing more than to finish with a birdie in front of everyone. Even with his spectacular fall on the
back nine, Randy wanted to point out that he did make birdie on 18 while Rickie
Fowler made par. He was insistent that we point this out. Always good to see Tron
acknowledging the center court crowd at Wimbledon. You have miles and miles of
room to hit it left on 18 but there still seems to be one person in every
group that flirts with the carpark. Like this guy. “How you gonna play this one?” “This could be interesting.” You’re gonna hear a lot about vibe this
season and North Berwick, both the course and the town, has it in spades. That’s
what’s driven so many people to come play this course, especially Americans.
And it’s what drives so many pros to want to play it when they’re in the area.
Imagine how much golf Rickie Fowler plays and imagine wanting to play more
golf on your day off. That’s what North Berwick does to you. It offers something that is so hard to
find in the world of golf. It offers something unique. “Boys what do we think
of North Berwick?” “If everybody played that course the game would be way too big.” “I’ve got sickle cell. If I play a course that’s too sick, it flares up. I was feeling some symptoms of that today.” “It’s not a chore. You know sometimes you go out and play golf and it’s a chore. You feel like you’re getting beat up. You don’t get any of that.” There’s a little bit of quirkiness. Just
enough to really ignite the imagination from time to time. You’re by the sea
which is great for the soul. “It’s just a fantastic experience.”

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