This is perhaps the top piece of advice. It’s amazing how many golfer’s overlook it. You will get a deeper, richer, and more rewarding experience from Scotland by seeking things out beyond her fairways. Many of Scotland’s top courses just happen to be in close proximity to genuine apex visitor attractions. That’s a lucky coincidence. You can add some serious value by combining club and country without really going out of your way to do so. Think of it like this. All operators can book the same golf courses. For the most part, we also use similar portfolios of accommodations too. Not everyone can bring the country to life however. This is very often where the value lies.
All tour operators advise this, but honestly, it isn’t the industry trying it on. It’s a genuinely sensible piece of advice. Scotland’s top golf courses don’t do ‘late deals’. Put simply, these don’t exist. The only thing you’re likely to achieve leaving things late is sub-optimal tee-times (if you’re lucky) and sold-out or more expensive accommodations. The only area you might get a ‘deal’ is on vehicle hire, but even then you’re just as likely to find everything’s been released
We normally advocate playing as many different courses as you can, but don't overlook the terrific, (often half-price) green fees for playing a replay round at places like Kingsbarns, Dumbarnie, Castle Stuart or Prestwick
If it involves a succession of compromises on quality, over-squeezing a price can come back to bite you months later. Any satisfaction is quickly forgotten in the field when you come to regret what you've done
Scotland has a tradition of golfin' in the gloamin'. It's often the most peaceful time of day to play. Some courses offer reduced twilight rates. Don't be afraid to throw one in for the experience
This is really easy to overlook if you’re in a 9 to 5 mindset. At high northern latitudes, particularly in June and July, the sunsets at about 22.00 or rises at about 04.30 if you’re so inclined. If you’re in the highlands and have landscapes which aren’t opening time dependent in your programme, or travel burdens to navigate on a point-to-point tour, you can seriously add quantity or time. Let’s game it out.
If we say there are four hours of useable daylight in the evening, and you’re on a weeks vacation, that’s 4 hrs x 7 days = 28 hours. You can engineer about two extra days into your plans for free
Admittedly the Old Course ballot is something of a pseudo science, but different months of the year, and different days of the week do have different levels of performance. We know, and respect this and build it into a strategy. Don’t automatically assume however that the clearest week is always your best chance of winning. Success is the product of a ratio between supply & demand. If everyone draws the same conclusion, this ratio rises as more golfers pile into a narrowing landing strip. It very often pays to be a little bit smarter as the whole process is more nuanced. It’s what we call a ‘Goldilocks window’ (not too hot, not too cold, but just right)
Things can go wrong with any overseas travel. Have you booked with someone who is based on the same time zone as the point of delivery?
A lot of operators can sell you a package. Some are based in the country of delivery and in a position to assist you in-situ. Others aren’t. Those which aren’t will usually rely on a local agent to represent them. This can even be another tour operator who is based in the country of delivery. Whereas you might think this gives you peace of mind (it should do in truth) you might end up paying twice. The agent will take a percentage to deliver or be available to support the selling retailers package. Now we would say this of course. Faraway Fairways are an agent/ operator, but you can decide as to its validity
By all means prioritise the St Andrews Old Course and make it your primary target (a majority of visiting golfers do) but don’t allow it to become an all consuming obsession.
As a general rule, provided you’re determined to play it, are prepared to go the extra mile if needed, and plan appropriately, you will succeed in doing so. Keep a sense of perspective after that and don’t let it cloud out all the other opportunities that you could easily be passing up by allowing your vacation to otherwise turn into a ‘one course gig’.
OK, it's not Scotland, but there seemed no harm in giving you a run down of the top Irish courses too since a few of them can conceivably be woven onto a Scottish tripdiscover