Customer Review From Maryland.

The following Faraway Fairways Customer Review, September 2022 was written by a joint organiser of a ten-person party. The only edits Faraway Fairways have performed is to protect identities of individuals or specific named companies. Enjoy

I would like to thank Alun and Faraway Fairways for a wonderful trip to Scotland and London. 

We were planning a trip for 10 guys to celebrate some big birthday milestones, and initially thought about planning the trip to Scotland ourselves. We realized it was going to get complicated so we reached out to some tour companies for help. About 8 companies responded to us, and we decided to proceed with Faraway Fairways due to the obvious attention to detail from Alun, as well as very competitive price. Our requirements were to play a little bit of golf (including at St. Andrews), do some hiking, hit some distilleries, and do some site seeing (like visiting castles). Alun gave us a preliminary itinerary that included all of the items on our list, with costs which seemed very reasonable. Eventually, we complicated things by requesting to also include a trip to Silverstone on our way back to London, so we could drive some race cars. It turned out that Silverstone was unavailable, but we ended up doing the Porsche driving experience which was right next to Silverstone. The trip turned out to have everything we needed.

The trip was extraordinarily well planned, and we had A LOT of complications, most of which Alun warned us about upfront. Some of these complications included potential train strikes, distilleries and tours which were limiting people due to COVID-19 (Alun accommodated us by scheduling 2 separate groups which went to different distilleries), some people only wanted to play golf once (again Alun accommodated us by scheduling alternate activities with a driver) and to top it off we ended up travelling right when the Queen passed, and was in Edinburgh and London during the same time we were there, so Edinburgh castle was closed.

Alun obviously spends a lot of time planning out the trip, and it was apparent in the EXTREMELY detailed itinerary. He even provides little history lessons to help explain the sites that you are seeing. Faraway Fairways estimates the time it takes to each destination to ensure that you stay on schedule, and lets you know the latest time you should leave your destination to arrive at the next one.

The accommodations were quite good (The Scotsman in particular was excellent). The Clachaig Inn was a bit rugged, but it had some nice charm and the views can’t be beat.

The morning breakfasts that were included were good. Various transport companies were used to get us around the country, and all were on time and vehicles were clean, comfortable and in good condition. The drivers were all friendly and very accommodating.

We played golf at the St. Andrews Eden course, which was adjacent to the Old Course.  The Eden course was quite nice and reasonably priced.  We were there on Sunday so we got to walk the Old Course while it was closed which was an amazing experience. 

Alun also chose Castle Stuart as our 2nd course, and it was spectacular.  I’ve played a lot of courses in the United States, and for me, it was definitely in the top 3 of all time.  Club rentals were arranged at both courses and were waiting for us when we arrived, and the clubs were of nice quality (Scotty Cameron putters at Castle Stuart!).

We were able to do some hiking, see some castles, do a lot of drinking and still had some time to just walk around and enjoy the sites. The perfect weather certainly helped, but the trip really could not have been any better.

For anyone planning to use Faraway Fairways, I would highly recommend them.  You will get a lot of e-mails, and more information and detail than you probably need, but you can be assured that the details have been worked out, and your trip will go as planned.

Customer Review From Maryland.

The following was written by the guest on a threeball. The only edits Faraway Fairways have performed is to protect identities of individuals or specific named companies. Enjoy

This correspondence is very late in getting to you. But, I wanted to reach out and extend a gigantic Thank You for putting together a fantastic trip for J.C. and me.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my daughter, R, who unbeknownst to me, would a part of our itinerary. With your coordination and constant communication with JC, you made my first golf trip to Scotland a forever memorable one. I checked many items off my golf bucket list after this trip. From R showing up unexpectedly at Trump International to us hitting the ballot TWICE for play on the Old Course to having great weather, this was a golf trip for the ages for me.

Admittedly, I was a little worried about the 16.5 rounds in 11 days when I first saw the itinerary. But, my excitement about playing these courses allowed me to forget that I was 71 years old and that I couldn’t do this. With J.C., it seemed that all I had to do was get in the car each morning and go play golf.

I’m beyond blessed to two have two great kids who still enjoy playing golf with their dad. Now, I just have to get my wife over to Scotland to experience what I experienced. Btw, taking caddies was a huge help and just added to our Scottish golf experience. For people playing these courses for the first time, it’s beyond me how they try to navigate these course without the use of a caddy.

I would and will highly recommend your company to anyone looking to plan an unforgettable golf trip. Again, many thanks, Alun.-The day off from golf on Monday was a great chance to allow the bodies to recover a little and was a welcome break…we toured St. Andrews, etc and had a wonderful day

Again, many thanks, Alun.


Customer Review From Canada.

The following was written by a single golfer from Canada, accompanied on a two-week trip by his wife. The review period covers the death of Queen Elizabeth II which occurred during their stay in Scotland. The only edits Faraway Fairways have performed is to protect identities of individuals or specific named companies, or small bits to assist with the flow of the read. We also made a small correction regarding the sequence of events regarding the re-arrangement of Carnoustie. Enjoy

Golf Trip of a Lifetime

As a single golfer, it’s not easy to book rounds of golf in the UK, never mind getting onto bucket list golf courses like the Old Course at St Andrews. Well, I can tell you that Alun Davies, of Faraway Fairways, provided my wife and I with an amazing travel experience to Scotland, featuring the best British Open courses possible. I told Alun the courses I was interested in playing and he prepared a stay and play package with 14 days of outstanding golf, but also tremendous site seeing opportunities for my wife.

The trip began with a 7 hour flight to Glasgow and quick transfer to the car rental agency.  Extremely thorough and detailed notes from Alun, made arrival and car pick up a breeze.  Driving on the opposite side of the road took a little bit to get used to, but having an amazing wife and navigator allowed us to safely navigate the roads. 

Off to Gleneagles, a 5-star hotel and golf sanctuary for our first night stay and round of golf.  Unfortunately, a snag in the trip was my luggage, both clothes and golf clubs did not arrive in Glasgow.  Undeterred, off to the pro-shop I bought some clothing and accessories to play golf. I hired clubs, shoes and a power trolly and golfed the Queens Course at Gleneagles. A phone call from Alun upon our arrival, checking in on us, was welcomed as unfortunately my golf clubs never arrived for my entire trip, but Alun coordinated club rentals throughout. (Faraway Fairways note inserted – we aren’t responsible for the airline!)

After a couple nights we headed off to Inverness and while en-route we attended the Highland Games at the Braemar Gathering. A wonderful event capped off by the arrival of Prince Charles, the honourary Royal guest as the Queen who usually attends was not well.  Little did we know 4 days later the Queen would unfortunately pass away and Charles would be named King. 

Culloden House, a magnificent property full of history, was our next stay.  Golfed at Royal Dornoch and Castle Stuart, amazing courses while my wife took a Castle tour at Dunrobin.

Next we were off to Aberdeen, stopping off to play the Trump international course, a link side beauty. 

Then we headed towards the Town of St Andrews, and here’s where Alun’s persistence paid off.  

As a single golfer he paired me up with another traveller to allow us a chance at the old course ballot system. We had planned on entering 3 days of balloting on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, as I had a pre-planned round at Carnoustie on Friday.  With no luck on the ballot for Wed and Thurs, Alun suggested we try and switch Carnoustie and ballot for Friday.  Being the Old Course, I felt that on a bucket list golf trip like this, the Old Course needed to be played.  While doing a Castle tour at Glamis, another wonderful old property, my phone rings. It’s Alun. We have won the lottery.  A Friday round at the “Old Course” is about to happen.

We arrive in St Andrews, staying at the Fairmont Hotel, another 5-star wonder.  Golf on the Jubilee course on Thursday and then news that shocked the world:  the Queen had tragically passed away.  Her passing sends the UK into a tizzy, and thoughts begin to creep in that they will cancel all activities on Friday and beyond, out of respect for the monarchy.  This could have placed our once in a lifetime round at the Old Course in jeopardy.  After a sleepless night on Thursday we awakened to learn that the golf would play on.  

Playing the Old Course at St Andrews is truly a life experience, and all avid golfers should make the attempt. 

My round was fantastically memorable, having great playing partners and a solid local caddie.  My magical moment was driving the 9th green, a downwind 300 yard par 4, and hitting the flagstick.  My ball rolled 20 feet past and a nice two putt netted my first birdie on the Old Course. 

As luck would have it, we were able to rebook my Carnoustie round on Saturday and then drove on to Edinburgh. Fate seemed to follow us with the monarchy.  We stayed in Edinburgh at a hotel along the Royal Mile, the exact route the Queen’s motorcade would follow from Balmoral Castle to her resting in state at Holyroodhouse Palace. We witnessed the procession of the Queen along with thousands of others who lined the streets.  A truly once in a lifetime moment.

Then on to Troon.  Rounds at Troon, Turnberry and Prestwick the place of the first British open were also all spectacular.  

With all travel, some things often go unplanned.  My lost luggage for two days, and my lost golf clubs for the entire trip caused me some grief having to hire clubs each round.  Most of the UK courses do not have power driven golf carts, or Trolleys as they call them, unless you have a medical exemption. On several rounds, I was booked in as a single golfer, so I would definitely recommend booking in groups or calling the course to be paired with others if you enjoy company during the round. 

My overall impressions of Scotland are: it’s a wonderful, historic country to travel to with the best links style golf courses in the world.  There are countless activities to do other than golf, castle tours, whiskey tours, the loch ness monster cruise, shopping and magical historical buildings everywhere.  

I can’t thank Alun enough for putting together a trip that both my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed.  A lifetime of memories in two  weeks.  Thanks Alun!.  


Customer Review From California.

The following was written by the group leader of a fourball from California, and covers a three year lead time involving two covid cancellations and re-arrangements. The only edits Faraway Fairways have performed is to protect identities of individuals or specific named companies. Enjoy

L and I have finally arrived home safely and hope G and B have as well. One fantastic trip you organized, and more importantly took ownership of in terms of daily communication and stewardship during our 2+ weeks in Scotland and Ireland. The logistics were spotless…100% of the transports were on time and excellent, the lodging choices spectacular and the golf was off the charts in terms of quality and arrangements made….all the courses knew of us/you and there was not a single hitch anywhere….if we can get the Dublin Airport to hire you as logistics manager the world will be a better place for the Irish

I doubt there is much we would have changed from what you put together for us…the Stena Ferry was excellent so the crossing back and forth between Scotland and Ireland was really rather painless. The transport drivers engaging in conversation and local lore was really wonderful…Tim from Starfish going out of his way to show us Clydesdale farms and local villages was wonderful….I hope we represented you and Faraway Fairways well in terms of your reputation and allowing you to keep doing business with the courses, lodging, and transports you arranged!

Random thoughts:

-The best place we dined during the trip was Little Italy in St. Andrews….we all pretty much agreed it was the best Italian Food we had ever experienced….ended up dining there 3 nights! Highly recommend to anyone in St. Andrews

-The day off from golf on Monday was a great chance to allow the bodies to recover a little and was a welcome break…we toured St. Andrews, etc and had a wonderful day

-Greywalls and Piersland we a real unique experience….would recommend to anyone

-Although a ways from the heart of town the Fairmont St. Andrews was great

-Having breakfast included in all of the accommodations was fantastic and allowed a nice start to everyday

-Kingsbarns is a wonderful golf course that we thoroughly enjoyed playing twice…one of the best…..however the lack of concern about pace of play and rounds taking over 5 hours was very unique to the trip given virtually every other course was 4 hours max and pretty much aggressively enforced by the course as a mandate (Muirfield in particular was a real stickler to the 4 hour round mandate)…We’d play again in a heartbeat at Kingsbarns but people should know it is a lot longer and slow play up front to set expectations at correct level in terms of transports and time slot.

I hope to avail myself of your services again once my partial capital account is slightly restored…..your work with us over the past two years has been a wonderful experience that we all have appreciated.

Let know anything we can do for you!



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    St Andrews Kittocks Course

    The Story of the Open Championship in Scotland

    A timeline of its development

    Scotland is where all Championship golf originates from. The story begins at Prestwick in 1860. Scotland has a total of seven Open Championship courses, two of which are no longer in today’s rotation. It’s also provided the tournament with the claret jug. Take a brief look at the Open Championship Story as we skim across Scotland through the ages using a map. Could you play all seven of them today in a single week? Yes (in theory) although its never easy to get them all to line up sequentially and Muirfield is never straight-forward either

    Scotland’s Golf Clubhouses

    We perhaps like to believe that Scotland has placed more emphasis on the quality of her golf courses, and England concentrated on her buildings. Certainly the red brick and gables of venues like Royal Lytham and Hoylake are impressive. So too is the Art Deco masterpiece of Royal Birkdale. Scotland’s Golf Clubhouses exhibit an eclectic collection of influences in their own right however. Our list is by no means exclusive, nor is it any attempt to rank them. Hopefully it serves to show you the variety that exists in Scotland, and also highlight how modern design paradigms are also being introduced


    Situated on a lakeside estate that used to be home to the Colquhouns, a Highland Scottish clan, LOCH LOMOND’S clubhouse is built of local pink and yellow sandstones—some of which had been salvaged from the clan’s 18th-century Georgian-style Rossdhu Mansion. In terms of elegance, the aristocratic splendour of Loch Lomond’s Rossdhu House, probably sets the gold standard in Scotland. The medieval Rossdhu Castle was completed in 1457 for Sir John Colquhoun. The castle was ruined in a fire post 1773 and the remains can be seen behind the 18th green of the golf course. The mansion is now the clubhouse for the prestigious Loch Lomond Golf Club.

    Another outstanding candidate would be Prestongrange House, the home of the ROYAL MUSSELBURGH Club about 20 miles east of Edinburgh. The Norman family, de Quincy, had the estate of Prestongrange until they supported the losing side in the run-up to Bannockburn. it then went to the Abbey of Newbattle and, in turn, to the families of Kerr, Morrison, and Grant. The house has, as its core, a Norman tower, added to and converted into a mansion. It’s distinctive pinkish sandstone and turreted roofs and towers lend it more than just hint of Glamis Castle.


    MUIRFIELD’S clubhouse dates to 1891. With the passage of time, modifications were introduced along with subsequent extensions. The clubhouse with its characteristic red roof and gables now harmonises well with both the landscape and the buildings on either side. It sits behind the 18th green as one of the more iconic images in world championship golf and of the most recognisable of Scotland’s Golf Clubhouses.

    ROYAL BURGESS with its white stone, black wood beams, and gabling is something of a gem. The design oozes class and heritage as is befitting for the world’s oldest golf club (1735)


    NORTH BERWICK sits in the shadow of ‘Berwick Law’ (a conical hill). Houses were built at its foot, and to a large extent these have determined how the clubhouse evolved. It is perhaps one of the most human in Scotland in so much as it integrates with the surrounding built environment. It has a distinctly residential feel about it. The clubhouse was refurbished in 2008, and does actually have a genuine sense of ‘Scottishness’ about it.

    PRESTWICK’S clubhouse is delightful for the glimpse it offers into golf’s past. Guided tours are actively encouraged to take-in the highlights of the early days of the Open Championship as well as the club’s rich history and its links with the Morris family. For lovers of the game, this is where golf’s myths and legends come to life at it has to rate as one of the most interesting amongst Scotland’s Golf Clubhouses.

    ROYAL TROON resembles Prestwick in design. It doesn’t make a grandiose statement with extravagant exterior decor. As the game of golf evolved, gentle and subtle changes have been made to accommodate the golfer of the present generation. In the early part of 1970s the Ailsa Room was erected and extended in 2006 .

    The clubhouse dates to the 1870’s. At that time it was a wooden structure, little more than 300 square feet in area, but it was an improvement on the Club’s first home which was a converted railway carriage. As the popularity game increased, it was considered fitting to erect a stone built property and in 1886 the first stage of the present Clubhouse was completed. Two major extensions were completed before 1900 incorporating the Smoke Room and the magnificent Dining Room, both of which to this day contain many of the original features.


    CASTLE STUART focused on the challenge of presenting a wide panoramic view along the Moray Firth to those within the building for their maximum pleasure (banner image at top of page). The architecture would focus on bringing the surrounding panoramic beauty to the interior. The clubhouse overlooks the 18th and 9th greens whilst also offering commanding 360 degree views across the whole course. With it white stone and copious use of big bay glass windows the influence of Royal Birkdale is detectable in this most modern of Scotland’s Golf Clubhouses

    The conversation about an Art Deco clubhouse dates back more than ten years to when one was considered for Kingsbarns. On that occasion however, the design team backed off and a more traditional approach sympathetic to the architecture of the surrounding estate was eventually chosen, albeit the traditional stone building was sited in the centre of the course with a top floor lounge and viewing decks. Roy Malcolm and Mark Parsinen still wanted to do an Art Deco clubhouse though you feel. At Castle Stuart they got their chance again. Subsequent discussions centred on ‘arrival’ and ‘release’ which meant a design that permitted views in the ‘circular drum’.

    Traditionally there has been a tendency towards making an architectural statement with the clubhouse design. Orthodoxy dictated that a commanding building overlooked the 18th green. Like Castle Stuart, the ST ANDREWS CASTLE COURSE
    ripped this up and placed the clubhouse in the centre of the course. The genius lies in the symbiosis of course and landscape, the clubhouse blends into the terrain


    PANMURE’S clubhouse is possibly one of the more architecturally eccentric. The Clubhouse is one of the finest old golf buildings in Scotland. Its unique and delightful lounges are full of character. The reason it hints at something exotic is because it draws heavily from India and the days when the jute industry brought the fortunes of the Tay and Hooghly rivers together. Inside, beech panelling and carved oak fireplaces make for a time-honoured and welcoming retreat to relax in.

    When it comes to white stone Art Deco buildings from the period, Royal Birkdale’s magnificent example with its big bay windows sets the standard. MUSSELBURGH’S contribution dates from 1938 and is at least authentic, even if we’d have to concede that it isn’t as grand as that of the Southport links used for the Open Championship


    The watchword here is probably drama. OLD MORAY put its clubhouse on the edge of the Lossiemouth (very similar to the R&A’s headquarters at St Andrews. Like the 18th on the Old Course, a series of houses to your right lead you back into the town. There can be few better places to watch golfer’s coming home than with some suitable refreshment looking down on the closing green, than the Moray Old Course

    So where is the ST ANDREWS OLD COURSE in our list of clubhouses you might be asking by now? The magnificent neo-classical building (1854) that overlooks the 18th green is perhaps the most iconic in golf. Well in truth we’re a bit conflicted about its status. It is the clubhouse of the R&A at one level, well it could certainly pass the threshold of private club anyway, but for functional purposes it tends to be the administrative headquarters. The actual clubhouse for a vast majority of players is a modern building close to the second tee

    The Growth of the Scottish Open

    The Next Tier of Courses on a Championship Rotation

    First played in 1935, the Scottish Open had something of a chequered history until 1986 when it was given a boost and moved to the inland course of Gleneagles. It had a distinctly European flavour to it, Ian Woosnam perhaps being its highest profile winner during this period. In 1995 it spent a brief couple of years at Carnoustie ahead of the their reintegration back onto the Open roster, before finding a new home at Loch Lomond in 1997

    There can be little doubt that it was suffering however due to its proximity to the Open though. Top international players preferred to use the links courses of Ireland as practise for the Open. The solution was obvious. Move it to a Scottish links. In 2011 the Highland course of Castle Stuart hosted for the first time. A year later Luke Donald won on the same track. Perhaps the biggest single boost came in 2013 when Phil Mickelson triumphed at Castle Stuart and wasted no time in suggesting that preparing in ‘the Scottish’ was critical to his subsequent success at Muirfield a week later. An even stronger field assembled for 2014 when Royal Aberdeen did the honours. Justin Rose prevailed this time, but Rory McIlroy provided further evidence that the Scottish was developing as a springboard to success when following up at Hoylake. 2015 broke the link, Zach Johnson lifted the claret jug at St Andrews, but the Lothian course of Gullane still saw Rickie Fowler edge out Matt Kuchar. The pattern was convincingly restored in 2016 however. Not only did Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson spread-eagle a field at Troon having used the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart as their launchpad to do so, but both the third and fourth placed finishers (JB Holmes and Steve Stricker) also played the week before. With supreme irony, the highest placed finisher who hadn’t played at the Scottish Open was Rory McIlroy, the same Rory McIlroy who had earlier suggested that Castle Stuart wasn’t linksy enough to act as a preparation. In 2017 the spell of the Scottish was broken slightly as Jordan Spieth prevailed at Birkdale, yet the four who finished behind him, Matt Kuchar, Haotong Li, Rory McIlroy, and Rafa Cabrero-Bello (the winner of the Scottish) all played at Dundonald, as did Braden Grace who shot a new Major record of 62 and came tied for sixth. In total seven of the top-10 finishers played the Scottish. The same total as in 2016.

    What Faraway Fairways are really interested in though is the establishment of a future rota for ‘the Scottish’ as it throws all sorts of interesting things into the mixer and no small amount of politics to boot just to complicate the brew.

    Scotland does have what we might call ‘golf playing’ regions, but unlike say the wine producing regions of France, Scotland’s golf regions are a bit looser and not really that well defined. You can pick up guidebooks and see completely different lines drawn on maps. The golf industry is important to the economy of Scotland. Recognition of this prompted the Scottish government to take a stake in the Scottish Open. The Scottish government however are keen to share the event around the country, so one of their first considerations is an equitable geographic spread

    In addition to geography, there is also a tacit priority seemingly given to membership politics and public accessibility. It becomes politically difficult for the Scottish government to use public money to support a golf club that operates restrictions.

    The politics of the decision is by no means restricted to the partisan though. There is a small ‘p’ political consideration to observe too. When in 2009 Barclays were looking at sponsoring the event, then CEO Bob Diamond saw Turnberry as a natural host. On approaching the course however it is reported that they turned the invitation down, for fear of jeopardising their status on the Open rotation, preferring instead to remain with the R&A. It is known that the R&A do not want the prestige of their courses undermined by hosting European Tour events so this seemingly strikes down the St Andrews Old Course, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Trump Turnberry, and Muirfield. Barclays withdrew shortly after and were replaced by Aberdeen Asset Management. It is perhaps worth noting however that St Andrews and Carnoustie, along with Kingsbarns, host the Alfred Dunhill links challenge in October each year. It’s not like there is no precedent for this

    It was widely believed that the 2017 Scottish Open was going to be held at the Trump International Links in Aberdeenshire. Well it isn’t difficult to imagine that the course made a favourable impression on the assessors. At 7400 yds it’s more than up to tour championship standard, and is stunning. Aberdeen proved in 2014 (as if it were necessary) that the city has the infrastructure to support the award. Again politics intervened. As Donald Trump discovered with Doral, sponsors are nervous. When you also throw in the mix of the Scottish Government, the whole package and its associations started to become messy. It doesn’t seem likely that the Trump International will host a Scottish Open any time soon, but the fact that it was seemingly under consideration might offer hope of a future accommodation.

    One thing that everyone agrees on however is the importance of a links course in attracting a quality field. This seemingly rules out Gleneagles, Loch Lomond, and Spey Valley. So discounting the inland courses and focusing on links, Scotland probably has five clear golfing regions. The Highlands are locked down by Castle Stuart. There is no good reason not to continue going back to Gullane, so this accounts for East Lothian and Edinburgh. Aberdeenshire is covered by Royal Aberdeen, irrespective of the Trump International, which leaves Fife and Ayrshire

    There is probably an argument to suggest that Fife isn’t really in need of a profile boost. Having said that, Kingsbarns would make for particularly attractive television, although it wouldn’t have the hotel facilities. Having flagged this concern, it is only 8 miles from St Andrews. In theory at least, it strikes us as tailor made.

    So if we’re looking to create an inclusive roster, this leaves us with the most problematic piece in the jigsaw, Ayrshire. The two jewels in the crown, Turnberry and Troon, are caught in the clash with the R&A’s rota. Western Gailes is simply too tight to host the event hemmed in as it is by a railway and a coastline. The neighbouring Gailes course suffers similar drawbacks, as does Prestwick, which is also just a bit too quirky and too short for a tour event. Almost by default therefore, the only name that’s left standing is that of Dundonald.

    Dundonald certainly had her doubters, but the course was immaculately presented, and the winning score of 13-under (albeit aided by tough conditions for the third round) suggests she was wasn’t chewed up and spat out. On balance, she probably passed the test, albeit Henrik Stenson felt the course had deterred the bump and run and despite looking linksy, needn’t be an ideal prep

    In 2016 after a reasonably torrid opening day in the wind at Castle Stuart Phil Mickelson remarked that he’s played the Scottish Open in the past because it offered a gentle reacquaintance with links golf. Challenging conditions that shred confidence and drain mental energy needn’t be what the players really want. Having said that, Phil did come a superb second at Troon a week later, finishing a full 11 shots clear of third. Were it not for running into an inspired Henrik Stenson he would have been lifting his second claret jug having probably played better than he did at Muirfield in 2013. He didn’t play Dundonald in 2017 and missed the cut at Birkdale. Coincidence?

    If the organisers could pick a venue from the Ayrshire coast however, we suspect they’d select Royal Troon. Troon has name recognition and you would think it would quickly emerge as the flagship venue for the Scottish Open. Could it happen? Well somewhat perversely Portrush might hold the key.

    When Royal Portrush was reintroduced to the Open roster, complete with a three tournament contract it broke the “optimum” balance of eight courses with St Andrews every five years, completing a ten-year cycle. Then Muirfield voted to exclude women from full membership and was stripped of the right to host. In effect Portrush replaced it and simply slotted into Muirfield’s place. Perhaps chastened by the R&A’s decision, Muirfield moved quickly to hold a second ballot and reversed their decision. Assuming that they will be reinstated, this now means that the equilibrium is unbalanced again. Either one of the existing courses will be dropped, the cycle made eleven years, or St Andrews will be reduced to one hosting every decade.

    If the R&A hold true to their assertion of using “the best available” then Hoylake would seemingly be the most vulnerable, albeit such a decision would surely leave a sour taste under the circumstances. Hoylake has always been one of the more progressive clubs, for them to be stripped of the privilege just because Muirfield eventually consented to a change in their rules looks particularly ugly however you try and dress it up. The R&A are contracted to go back to Hoylake at least once more before they can make that decision though. Despite their commitment to quality, there surely has to be a commercial consideration too? Hoylake makes good money. Then there’s politics (again). Dropping Hoylake against this backdrop awards Scotland six Opens in a ten-year cycle. England would only have three. Faraway Fairways can easily foresee a fudge whereby the R&A resolve that the respective quality differential between Hoylake and Troon is deemed close enough to consider dropping the Scottish venue instead, even if the course rating assessors regard it as superior

    It needn’t even be Portrush that pulls the trigger however. There is a strengthening geo-political lobby to add Wales and Royal Porthcawl, and so complete a ‘British’ jigsaw. Those who played in the 2013 Open Championship at Hoylake, and the Seniors Open a few weeks later at Porthcawl, were pretty unanimous in their appraisal as to which was the best links. Adopting Porthcawl causes another ‘green bottle to accidentally fall’ as pressure is applied from a second direction. Who though?

    Royal St Georges at Sandwich is the R&A’s window on London. They won’t surrender that. Royal Birkdale is widely regarded as England’s best links, so they’re safe. In other words, we believe that in a close-run decision Troon can probably survive Muirfield being reinstated, and probably do so to the detriment of Hoylake in the long-term if quality is used to arbitrate. We doubt Troon could see off a second addition though, (Porthcawl in our scenario). Introducing a Welsh representative would seemingly pit Troon against Royal Lytham. Whereas Faraway Fairways believe Troon to be marginally better, it needn’t be decisively so, and especially if this means England dropping down to just the two venues

    Now you might say there is a name missing in all this idle speculation, and that is Trump Turnberry. You’d be right. No course has ‘politics’ more firmly cemented in its DNA than the venue that last hosted in 2009. The R&A have skirted around the issue quite adroitly so far, but tellingly perhaps, have not formally removed it from future consideration. There can be little doubt that Turnberry more than meets the quality threshold, and especially since its renovation. In early survey’s it had overtaken Muirfield as the UK’s best course. There’s always been something of a question mark over its commercial potential however, but the R&A have been able to sign off on that before.

    So what do we see long-term? Well we wouldn’t be shocked to see Hoylake and Troon removed in favour of Porthcawl. This then opens up the possibility of Troon becoming the signature home of the Scottish Open, perhaps fulfilling a similar status to that which St Andrews lends to the Open Championship. There is of course an almighty problem with any such suggestion. Is there any reason to believe Troon’s members would agree to such a request? Well it would certainly be a loss of prestige, and the club is wealthy and not exactly in need of the money. Our best guess is that Troon would pass, and prefer to keep the course open for their members

    For the ‘brand’ of the Scottish Open to succeed, it might have to move to a recognisable flagship course which viewers, spectators, and sponsors can begin to build a relationship with. The other courses could then be rotated around it on an eight year cycle of, one (4) + four (1’s). The obvious ‘best fit’ would be Turnberry, Bob Diamond was probably right, but for such time as the name ‘Trump’ is emblazoned on things, it seems impossible that an SNP or Labour led Scottish government could agree to this, and that’s before we reconcile other tour sponsors. It’s frustrating. The Scottish Open is probably on the cusp of something quite big, but the final obstacle looks insurmountable