Dunhill Links: Lothians course set to shine

Richard Gilbert of the USA and Richie Ramsay
Richard Gilbert of the USA and Richie Ramsay
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RICHIE RAMSAY, the top Scot after the opening round of the Dunhill Links Championship, has tipped The Renaissance Club to be a “perfect” venue for a European Tour event.

The recent European Masters winner is attached to the East Lothian facility and splits his practice time between there and a base in Atlanta.

European Tour officials ran the rule over The Renaissance Club, which is owned by American Jerry Sarvadi when it was looking for a new home for the Scottish Open around two years ago.

Castle Stuart was chosen instead but it would be no surprise if the East Lothian course staged that event, or something else, in the future.

Some stunning new holes and a clubhouse are set to be unveiled next year, when The Open at neighbouring Muirfield will provide Sarvadi with the perfect chance to showcase The Renaissance Club.

“It’s an unbelievable facility,” said Ramsay after opening his title bid at St Andrews with a polished seven-under-par 65.

“For starters, you drive in there and the service is first-class. The range is also brilliant because it’s double-sided and you’ve got trees which shield you from the wind.

“And if there is a wind you can hit shots in lots of different directions.

“The greens are good. The golf course is good with potential to be really, really good. And when the clubhouse is finished, I think it will be one of the best in Scotland.

“One of the important things for me is that it is going to have a gym. I’ll be able to go down there from Edinburgh, practise the whole day then do my gym work all on the one site.” Helped by his win in Switzerland, Ramsay has climbed into the top 100 in the world and says practising at The Renaissance Club is part of the reason he’s Scottish golf’s form man at the moment along with Paul Lawrie.

“When you look at the courses outwith The Open tracks, I cannot see anywhere else that’s got the facilities it does and had the infrastucture and space as well,” he added.

“Once the clubhouse is up and more people start coming to it, they will realise how good it is. Next year’s Open is going to 
be the perfect platform for 

“I spoke to him early in the year and he was fantastic. Some other clubs were probably not as receptive.

“But I think Jerry is a very forward-thinking guy and it’s great that he’s letting me practise there.

“I’ve now got a great place in Scotland and America and things are going well at the moment. I’ve got everything I need in place.”

Ramsay is playing in this week’s pro-am event with Dick Gilbert, an American who has become a close friend since his US Amateur Championship win in 2006.

“I caddied for him around 2000 so have known him for the best part of ten years,” said the Scot. “He’s one of the three people I speak to for advice about golf.

“He’s very smart and he knows what he’s doing. He understands golf because he’s played around Tour guys enough that he understands how to let them go out and play.”

Also in action at St Andrews on the opening day, David Drysdale and Stephen Gallacher carded 66 and 67 respectively. Cockburnspath-based Drysdale signed for eight birdies, two more than Gallacher who was the 
winner of this event in 2004.

On a day when South African Branden Grace shot a 12-under 60 at Kingsbarns, amateur 
ace Ewen Scott also gave a 
good account of himself at 
St Andrews.

Playing with Marc Warren, the Scottish duo shot a six-under 66 in the team event.

“It’s really exciting to be here,” said the Scottish Youths’ champion. “I’m just going out here to have fun, try to learn from some of these guys and just enjoy it.

“This is definitely a set above in terms of what I’ve experienced, but it’s all part of the excitement.

“I’ve grown up watching this tournament and always thought how cool it would be playing in it, and now it’s