SCOTTISH GOLF IN THE FALL
One of the key questions that any visitors face when choosing a Scottish golf vacation is the answer to the question of when? In other words, the choice of season or month. Scottish golf in the fall is possibly the most sanctifying and beguiling experience of the year. Sure, it requires a bit of luck to catch it at its best. If you do however then you’ll be richly rewarded and its definitely something that’s worth thinking about rolling the dice on
Meteorological autumn begins at the start of September and lasts until end of the November. For St Andrews September has an established pattern however that we need to factor into our thinking. The first ten days of the month are normally clear, after that however the course closes for a series of traditional fixtures culminating in the Dunhill Links Challenge (European Tour event) at the end of the month which usually overlaps into the start of October. The Dunhill also means that Carnoustie and Kingsbarns are closed for the final week too as the trio co-host.
It’s easy to reflect perhaps that the various golf clubs of St Andrews know when the best time of year is to play, and they keep mid September to themselves! It’s worth reviewing why though. Despite being a rainy month, and despite the autumn being the rainiest season of the year, we do get some idyllic days in September characterised by a warming sun and crisp fresh air being swept down from the north. Scottish golf in the fall can be blissful and it’s worth being aware that these conditions can particularly prevail in the Highlands, where the more northerly latitude tends to move the changing seasons forward by about three or four weeks. Autumn comes a little bit earlier to places like Dornoch, Nairn, or Castle Stuart, and that means it begins to weave a tapestry of rich colour into the landscape. Catch these conditions right, and Scottish golf in the fall is probably the very best that Scotland has to offer
By the time October rolls around however we’re getting into the tail end of the peak season. Royal Troon will usually be amongst the first to close their books, and by the middle of the month St Andrews adopts their second ‘shoulder season’ price list which lasts from the middle of October to the 1st of November. Green fees are typically about 33% less than they were at the beginning of the month. Carnoustie also makes a similar concession about this time of year too.
Naturally it also becomes easier to win an Old Course ballot as we press into October. Sure there is less daylight now, especially as we adopt Greenwich Meantime towards the end of the month and lose an hour daylight. There is however a palpable fall off from overseas visitors now reducing demand. Competition for rounds of golf begins to come from local players instead, who themselves are much more likely to be persuaded by looking out of the window and taking a decision based on the weather
The early part of the November is normally still quite playable in most regions. The courses of the Highlands usually offer some particularly attractive terms as they seek to squeeze the last few drops out of the season. If you ‘go for it’ you do run an enhanced risk of weather disruption, and we wouldn’t really encourage you to do so after the 15th. Kingsbarns closes in November for maintenance and you would probably best be advised to discount it from your planning
St Andrews is probably the best location for Scottish golf in the fall, and to some extent this owes a little bit to how the course interacts with the town. The Old Course leads away from the town and then calls you back in, as the streets of the town run alongside the closing holes to guide you home. The parallels with a ship on a sea and a lighthouse showing them the way start to become unmistakable as the lights of the hotels and bars begin to come on to show the way. It can be an almost spiritual experience coming in after four hours of toil on the links knowing that a dram or two of the good stuff awaits.