WHILE some take on water challenges in a swimming pool or the sea, the lady captain of North Berwick Golf Club (NBGC) went for something a bit different. . . a dip in the new – and unplanned – giant water feature on the ninth hole.

The hole, close to Yellowcraig on the western edge of the famous West Links, has been severely flooded in recent weeks due to heavy rainfall.

NBGC’s lady captain Yvonne Keeling decided last Sunday morning (February 7) she would swim the flooded bunker and fairway close to the 9th green to raise money for charity, with physician husband Peter on camera duty.

East Lothian Courier: Yvonne Keeling swam in a flooded bunker at the ninth hole of North Berwick Golf Club

It was a very cold morning, with the air at minus six degrees Celsius and the water at about two degrees.

Watched on by Peter and the family Schnauzers, Yvonne completed the unusual feat, which she has called the ‘bonkers bunker challenge’, in aid of Leuchie House respite centre, with more than £3,700 raised so far, surpassing her £200 target.

The 60-year-old retired physiotherapist said she came up with the idea “on a whim” after a throwaway remark and “moment of madness”.

East Lothian Courier: Yvonne Keeling swam in a flooded bunker at the ninth hole of North Berwick Golf Club

Yvonne lives near the golf course and noticed the water level rise and suggested it was deep enough to swim in; a friend then said they would donate money if she completed the challenge!

She was only in the water – which was as much as three feet deep in places – for about a minute, wearing a swimming costume, hat and gloves.

Yvonne said the flooded area was at least the size of a football pitch and had closed four holes. The course reopened on Tuesday after closure last week but the ninth hole remains shut.

East Lothian Courier: Yvonne Keeling swam in a flooded bunker at the ninth hole of North Berwick Golf Club

She said: “Needless to say, once in, I had no difficulty getting out, unlike my usual bunker problem.

“I hope that the NBGC members will forgive the unusual behaviour of the lady captain but difficult times call for desperate measures!

”I was more concerned about being seen than being in the water.

"It seems to have gone down quite well with the other members, who have all been quite supportive.

“I am grateful to everyone who has so generously donated.”

East Lothian Courier: The flooded ninth hole

And she felt it was “no great feat” in comparison to those who swim in the North Berwick coastal waters all year round.

Yvonne chose Leuchie House not only to help the charity through the pandemic period but because it is one of her chosen charities as current lady captain.

Leuchie House, south of North Berwick, provides respite for those living with long-term neurological conditions and their families.East Lothian Courier: The flooded ninth hole

Elaine McBride, general manager of NBGC, said that the course had experienced double its average rainfall this year so far, which had led to an unusually high water table.

She added: “I think the lady captain was worried she might get into trouble for swimming in the bunker!

“It clearly shows her grit and determination to try to raise some money for a great local cause. It was so cold even the dogs decided to ‘dip’ out!

“The response on social media has been tremendous and we hope it creates some traction to raise some funds during these challenging times.”

East Lothian Courier: How the ninth hole typically looks

How the ninth hole typically looks

A Leuchie House spokesperson said: “We have been blown away by the support from the local community and by their creative fundraising challenges and would like to take this opportunity to thank our fundraisers and all of those who have so kindly donated.”

Yvonne was not the only one to take the plunge.

Catriona Matthew, Solheim Cup captain, lives in North Berwick in a house overlooking the course; she is also a member of North Berwick Golf Club.

She posted a photo (see below) on social media of her family dog Rio sitting on the edge of the bunker, saying: “Rio had a successful swim in the new water hazard today on the ninth hole”.

East Lothian Courier: Catriona Matthew's dog Rio also took a dip in the new water feature. Image Catriona Matthew

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/YvonneKeeling

A video of Yvonne’s swim was also posted on YouTube and has received more than 1,000 views since its upload.

The video can be viewed at youtube.com/watch?v=pI7dgDFAg6s