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!.