‘You get what you pay for’ is a well worn mantra of international travel. Whereas this is largely true, there is some scope around the fringes to shave a price. Don’t become price obsessed though. If we over-do it there is a danger we can begin to damage the product, so we need to strike a balance.
In broad terms there are three areas of primary expense. Transport, Golf, and Accommodation, plus a few ‘tricks’ we can utilise to squeeze things. This starts to invite a second question. How far are you prepared to compromise in the pursuit of a cheap St Andrews golf trip ?
Most golf trips involve an element of point-to-point touring. This means that self-drive is usually cheapest and the most convenient. A St Andrews based programme needn’t be though. It’s not a substantial saving, but if we observe the maxim that all little bits count, then it helps
If you prefer to self-drive, there is a little trick that involves a 10 min tram ride towards Edinburgh and commencing the hire outside of the airport zone, but that’s a detail
Consideration likely begins with a trans-Atlantic flight. The cheapest to Europe land at Dublin. It's worth checking if a connecting flight to Edinburgh works out less expensive (it often does). The world top-100 ranked links of Portmarnock is only 20 mins from Dublin airport. This means you can add some high-quality golf, plus Dublin, and save some money.
We might sneak North Berwick into the programme for a Sunday arrival in Edinburgh (world top-50 ranked). North Berwick needn't involve a transport hire. North Berwick railway station is only a 250 yd walk from the Links. Trains run every hour and complete the journey in 40 mins from Edinburgh. It costs about £9, cheaper than any self-drive or private vehicle hire
The links of St Andrews, Kingsbarns, and Crail can all be accessed using a local 'golf taxi' (5-15 mins). St Andrews has a minor industry of golf taxis. Putting together a book is cheaper than a self-drive hire for a week. The only journeys we have of any consequence therefore are those between the airport and St Andrews, and anything going to Carnoustie or Dumbarnie.
Old Course 11th hole
The only sensible way to play the Old Course with an eye on managing a budget is through the ballot. Strike-rates vary dependent on the month of the year and the day of the week. With 5/6 days though, plus the bail-out of the ‘walk-up’ rule, we would expect to succeed all things being equal
Because we’re basing in St Andrews to cut down travel expense we’ll get the chance to make another saving on a three-day ‘unlimited’ ticket which allows us to play the New, Jubilee, Castle, Eden & Strathtyrum courses at will. The more you play, the more you save (relatively). Also don’t overlook the Dukes course too. There is a lot of respectable good quality in the area
If we make things too St Andrews focused though, we could undermine quality. Carnoustie is 45 mins away and should be considered for a round on a Sunday. We should also look at using the world top-50 ranked links of North Berwick on the Sunday afternoon of arrival to support a night in Edinburgh. Our final decision could come down to Kingsbarns or Dumbarnie (or both). At the time of writing Dumbarnie doesn’t hold a world ranking but is expected to earn one. It’s currently cheaper than the established world ranked links at Kingsbarns. Playing both is still a good idea, but we also have the likes of Crail, Lundin and Scotscraig as options to save you a bit more on green fees
St Andrews is an expensive destination, and the budget end of the market continues to be squeezed as everyone tries to become a 5-star. The traditional way for shaving money off accommodation is to use B&B’s. These tend to be a quite high-standard however and needn’t achieve the savings that they might do elsewhere. We risk quality if we go too cheap.
The best option is to use the Premier Inn, the UK’s leading budget chain. You get a particularly comfortable bed, and the prices are such that you could seriously consider using a double room under single occupancy for more space and privacy without incurring. Their twin rooms feature a double and single bed however, the single is notably inferior to the double
Although we can run this throughout a season, anyone looking at achieving a cheap St Andrews golf trip should certainly consider the shoulder season which runs up until mid April. Green fees are typically 33% to 50% less expensive. That’s not all though. April is the driest month of the year in St Andrews
So how much you ask? Well it depends on the time of year, number of people in a party and the lead time you give us, but an eight night stay in early April that includes Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, Dumbarnie, North Berwick, plus an assortment of the St Andrews Links Trust’s supporting courses should come in at around £2,500 per person, (about £2,250 if staying in twin rooms)
Eight nights, featuring St Andrews, Carnoustie, North Berwick and Portmarnock for a price likely to be close to £3,000. An example of a budget bucket list tripDiscover
A local area programme predominantly focused on the the supporting courses of St Andrews including New, Castle & Jubilee and is typically less expensive than those which seek to go all parts of the compassDiscover