Renaissance Club confident big tournaments a matter of time

Picture: Ian Rutherford
Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Owners of The Renaissance Club are confident its time will come in the mainstream golfing spotlight, despite seeing a second European Tour event go to a near neighbour.

Hot on the heels of Gullane staging the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open last summer, Archerfield Links is now hosting the Paul Lawrie Match Play in August.

With the 2013 Open Championship having been held at Muirfield, it leaves The Renaissance Club as the odd one out among the cluster of four venues close together on the East Lothian coast, but Jerry Sarvadi believes that won’t be for too long. The club’s founder and CEO is bullish about its future as a tournament venue, describing two R&A events heading there – qualifying for the Boys’ Amateur Championship at Muirfield in August then a four-year stint as an Open Championship Final Qualifying venue from 2018 – as a “stepping stone” to bigger things.

“I have not given up on the Scottish [Open],” the American told The Scotsman as he spoke about possible events being staged at the club, which has just announced a move to become member-owned and governed. “We wanted it here [last year] and I talked to them,” he added of discussions that took place with European Tour officials before the 
decision was made to choose Gullane instead.

George O’Grady, the Tour’s chief executive at the time, said the main reason Gullane got the nod was due to it being a “traditional links” compared to its much younger neighbour, though then First Minister Alex Salmond later revealed it had also been down to the exclusivity of The Renaissance Club. “At £100,000 a whack for family membership, it would not communicate an ideal message about Scottish golf being open to all,” he wrote in a book published last year. “Mr Salmond had his own ideas at the end of the day,” said Sarvadi of that disappointment, “but who knows what is going to happen in the long term. I believe the European Tour needs to use the best venues and facilities available to them to present a truly world-class event. In my humble but admittedly biased opinion, The Renaissance Club has a world-class course and facilities and Scotland should be proud and pleased with what we have built.

“We love being a partner with the R&A. We were delighted when they asked us to do the Boys Amateur this year with Muirfield and now I consider getting Final Qualifying as a another stepping stone in 
the right direction. We are really happy with that. We have put our name in for other events with the R&A. We want to continue that relationship and see what happens.”

The move to owner membership of the club coincides with its tenth anniversary, a journey which Sarvadi admits has been quite an adventure, with an exciting stretch of holes already having been added by Tom Doak as well as clubhouse costing £9.2 million.

“It has been like any other business I’ve run in my life,” he said with a hearty chuckle. “There have been ups and there have been downs, but, speaking for my five brothers as well, we love what we have done here and are proud about that. Moving to a position where we have membership equity units instead of a bond means it is going to be a stronger club financially and one that can sustain itself for a long period of time.

“Myself and my family have a lot invested in this, so we are not going anywhere. But the aim is to have a situation where everyone will become equal owners. It may take a few years, but that is the goal.”