Bulldog's blog: Playing Renaissance Club

A view of the 11th from behind the green at Renaissance Club.

Senior writer Alex Miceli, affectionately known as the Bulldog, will be in England and Scotland for nearly a month and will be keeping you updated with his latest tidbits in a daily blog for Golfweek. Here is his July 16 installment . . .

• • •

Bulldog's blog, July 8: A worthy trip to Tain

Bulldog's blog, July 9: Royal Dornoch builds on rich history

Bulldog's blog, July 10: A day at Castle Stuart with Paul McGinley

Bulldog's blog, July 11: An impressive day at Trump Scotland

Bulldog's blog, July 13: A walk with ghosts, greats at St. Andrews

Bulldog's blog, July 14: Historic Muirfield buzzing early

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GULLANE, Scotland –- I’ve mentioned a couple of times one of the benefits of coming to the UK, especially Scotland, is that is doesn’t get dark until after 10:00 p.m.

Well I took full advantage of that on Monday night and made a stop at Gullane Golf Club for a quick 18 on the Number 2 course.

Gullane’s claim to fame is that the three courses -- Nos.1, 2 and 3 -- play on and around Gullane Hill. And it is a pretty big hill.

So with windy conditions, you could find a 3-iron going 300 plus yards and a driver going 175 yards.

But going up and down that bloody hill at times felt like a death march.

One of the bad parts of coming to the UK is that if you in fact play golf until 10:00 p.m. you want to get something to eat afterwards -- and it's not good to eat so late and then you get to bed at midnight or later and start it all over again the next morning.

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A look at Thursday's pairings

Monday officially was the start of Open week and Ernie Els and Nick Faldo came in to the media canter. Els was good and relaxed even though he missed the cut last week at the Scottish Open.

At 25/1, it’s hard not to put a little wager on Els, who is in form and would like to make it his second consecutive Open Championship win and third overall.

The pairings came out midday and some were a bit interesting:

David Duval, Brend Wiesberger, Chris Wood. You would think a former Open Champion deserved better.

K.J. Choi, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jimmy Walker. Not much talking in this group.

Bubba Watson, Nicolas Colsaerts, Dustin Johnson. A lot of length in this group. Nothing like stealing an idea from the USGA who did the same thing this year.

Sir Nick Faldo, Tom Watson, Fred Couples. Couples gets in because of winning the Senior British Open last year. The other two have won a combined eight Open Championships.

Justin Rose, Ernie Els, Brandt Snedeker. Just a solid pairing.

Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Phil Mickelson. Clearly a marquee pairing, just not sure how Matsuyama got in there.

Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel, Sergio Garcia. This group is followed by Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar and Luke Donald, and then Rickie Fowler, Matteo Manassaro and Hunter Mahan. Not too bad.

Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen. What a pairing.

Forecast for Thursday’s opening round: fine and mainly dry with maximum temp of 75 degrees and wind out of the south west at 10 mph.

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A trip to Renaissance Club

Since Faldo was late and I had a 2:40 tee time at the Renaissance Club, I missed Sir Nick.

I’d been to the Renaissance Club before, playing and taking a look around when they finally received planning permission to build the new holes along the water of the North Sea.

The new holes are something the owner wanted from the beginning, but bureaucracy moves slowly by definition, so it took years to get the plan approved.

Standing on the tee of the 10th hole you can see how it was all worth it, but don’t take my word for it, take a look at the photo gallery for The Renaissance Club.

Oddly, when I came up to the par-5 13th hole I ran into Vijay Singh. We shook hands and Singh questioned my decision to use 3-wood vs. driver.

Singh clearly decided that practicing at the Renaissance Club on his own made more sense than going to Muirfield.

After a nice day at the Renaissance Club it was off to North Berwick for dinner.

The sleepy little town at the tip of East Lothian is a great spot to take in Scotland.

With a great golf course, stunning views of the North Sea and a vibrant town with merchants, shops and restaurants, North Berwick is the place to go.

Which may be why we saw Boo Weekley, Peter Hanson, Harris English and Ken Duke walking the streets.

With Monday in the books, I have a dilemma. Our house we have rented has a washer, but no dryer. Not sure how that is possible, but it is and trying to find a wash-and-fold or a dry cleaners in Gullane or North Berwick that doesn’t open and close on banker's hours. So far no luck, but will keep trying, after all I’m here for a month.

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