Major winner Justin Thomas reckons North Berwick Golf Club could have some stars in the making – after being impressed seeing them working hard on their putting and chipping.
The 2017 US PGA champion paid a visit to the town’s West Links on Monday after arriving in East Lothian for his debut in the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at the nearby Renaissance Club.
He had a ball playing the course in a casual game with his father, Mike, and fellow PGA Tour player Kevin Kisner before they turned their attention to the $7 million Rolex Series event a few miles along the coast.
“It was very enjoyable,” reported Thomas of following in the footsteps of the likes of Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw, both of whom played at North Berwick in the past during visits to the area for the Open at Muirfield.
“We were lucky they let us go out. My dad got to play, too. Always entertaining playing with him. We got our trollies, played in about three hours and had a pint after and it was a pretty nice day.
“I would say we all slept pretty well last night because we landed about noon and went straight out to the course. It was a great way to spend our first day here.”
Thomas, the world No 9, had been encouraged to pay a visit to North Berwick by another of the Americans in this week’s star-studded field on Scotland’s Golf Coast.
Referring to 2015 winner Rickie Fowler, he added: “Rick had talked about it a bunch. I know he liked playing out there and I heard it from other guys, too.
“Most importantly, though, that first day over here, we have to do something to stay awake, whether it’s playing here or playing somewhere or doing something.
“If I sit down, I’m going to fall asleep and it’s going to mess up my sleep schedule all week.
“To go out and do something and go play is what we need to do for our well being, as funny as it is. But we knew that we could come out here and play. I mean, we can’t play these other golf courses. It’s not like I’m going to come over from Jupiter, Florida to play North Berwick.
“So I was here on a Monday, that’s usually a travel day for all of us, so it’s like, let’s go play. We heard a lot of great things and I think when you can play more golf courses over here, it’s cool.”
During his round, Thomas broke off to have a chat with a group of the club’s juniors as they spent some time during the school holiday on the practice area at the side of the eighth hole. “Timing worked out to where I was over there when they were and got to take a picture,” he said. “They were all working on their chipping and putting – and that was good to see.”
Fowler also had a hit at North Berwick on Tuesday, revealing he’d enjoyed a second visit in recent years even if the weather was miserable on this occasion.
“I love playing links golf, and especially on days like yesterday when it’s a little bit of weather and you can just go out and push the bag around, have a little fun,” he said.