The exclusive East Lothian venue will be the only Scottish Final Qualifying venue from 2018
The Renaissance Club, which calls itself ‘one of the world’s most exclusive golf clubs’, has been announced as one of four Final Open Qualifying venues from 2018-2021.
The East Lothian resort, whose percentage of Scottish members was as little as 45% in 2014, is strictly a members-only club, with a £30,000 joining fee for individual members, while a 30-year family membership cost £70,000 two years ago.
Situated within Archerfield Estate and just a short drive from North Berwick, the course opened to great acclaim in 2008 and will co-host the Boys Amateur Championship along with Muirfield this year, but questions will surely be asked of the R&A for its decision to take the event to a course that is largely unavailable for play to the public.
Former Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, is one person who has criticised the resort, revealing in his book, ‘The Dream Shall Never Die’, that The Renaissance was knocked back as a potential Scottish Open venue because of concerns about its image.
He wrote: “It is reasonably certain that Martin [Gilbert, CEO of title sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management] has come under a fair bit of pressure to take the tournament further along the coast to Renaissance, the new and hugely impressive development near North Berwick, but at £100,000-a-whack for family membership it would not communicate an ideal message about Scottish golf being open to all.”
The Renaissance Club takes the place of Gailes Links as the Scottish Final Open Qualifying venue, with the popular Ayrshire layout ending its four-year run of hosting in 2017 after the qualifying event for Royal Birkdale.
“Final Qualifying is a hugely important part of the Open Qualifying Series and provides a gripping spectacle as leading Tour players compete with club professionals and elite amateurs for places in the championship,” said Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, executive director of championships at the R&A. “The success that Jordan [Niebrugge] and Paul [Dunne] enjoyed last year shows just what is possible for those who qualify and gives players a huge incentive to follow in their footsteps.”
The other three Final Open Qualifying venues from 2018-2021 are Notts (Hollinwell), Prince’s Golf Club in Kent and St Annes Old Links in Lancashire.