Organising the ultimate golf trip for my father’s 70th birthday in the midst of a pandemic seemed an astute idea at the time. How wrong I was. However, although not without the predictable stress, I couldn’t have a better sounding board. With Alun at Faraway Fairways, whatever anxieties that arose were dealt with prudently and professionally.
Even when one of our travelling party – the group consisted of my dad, me and my two brothers – was stuck in a UK red-list country (United Arab Emirates) and the trip had to be postponed THREE times, Alun came repeatedly to the rescue.
He kept us abreast of the ever-changing travel restrictions, and in great detail too, which was a considerable comfort. He handled all the rearranging required with the three respective golf clubs (the fourth was the Old Course at St Andrews, so we were relying on the ballot system), and revised and revised… and revised again… our itinerary as the maddening situation continued to change. An absolute credit to his business!
Alun was in touch by email and by phone throughout, yet the best phone call had to be two days before the rescheduled trip, when we’d met up in Ireland in preparation to leave for Scotland. At the very first attempt, Alun had secured us a winning 4-ball ballot for the Old Course. So, one hour after a three-hour ferry and four-hour drive to Andrews, we were teeing it up at the Home of Golf. Caddies (recommended by Alun and another wonderful piece of advice) at the ready, and 5-irons in hand (wide fairway it may be, but the nerves do jangle), our ultimate golf trip had finally begun.
And what a day. It helped that we all – somehow – played well, no doubt aided by adrenaline and our caddies giving lines off tees (the majority appeared initially to be wildly mistaken) and on those mammoth greens. 60-foot putts require a little guidance!
But above all, it was an unbelievable day. The sun even came out, providing the perfect light for my brother, playing off 12 and aiming for a closing par to break 80 at the Old Course, shanking his approach on 18 onto a window of a building on the other side of the adjacent car park. The crowd, that had followed us all the way from the Jigger Inn, absolutely loved it. As did we. Thank god for Perspex. Must’ve heard we were coming.
With a successful Old Course ballot, we then had to rearrange our other three rounds, which Alun sorted again – of course. So Cruden Bay, then North Berwick, then Elie followed.
Cruden Bay, a two-hour drive north, knocked the hell out of all four of us. However, we’d go back in a heartbeat, desperate for another crack at it. A truly stunning course, full of blind shots and incredible views.
It will be remembered for the youngest brother’s chip-in for birdie on the par-3 16th, coming after he had hacked his way around the course and was subsequently right at the very end of his tether. He celebrated with a somersault that nearly genuinely put out his back.
Elie, meanwhile, was a quaint little course that we originally had first on the itinerary as a gentle introduction to the trip. Now coming last, after the three that went before it, it was always going to be difficult to live up to the others. Still, totally worth the half-hour drive from St Andrews if you have time. And the 10th hole? Beautiful. My bother drove the blind green, then proceeded to 3-putt for a below-par par.
Which leaves North Berwick, sandwiched on our schedule between Cruden Bay and Elie and unanimously the finest course we played. Perhaps even of all time. From the lovely starter to the obliging course marshals, to almost every hole, the quirks and the quandaries… an incredible experience. It’s not every day your dad putts through a gap in a wall that guards the green, ricochets off every stake, stone and lump of grass en route, and rolls to three feet. Dad’s reaction – laughing so much he was reduced to tears – was one of the many highlights.
Cannot recommend North Berwick enough. It simply needs to be part of any golf trip around that area (2.5 hours from St Andrews).
All the while through the five days, Alun checked in, making sure everything was running smoothly, with tips for squeezing in another round somewhere should our bodies – and minds – be up to it. The four of us are eternally grateful for the most brilliant trip. We honestly couldn’t have done it without him.
Will 100 percent use again. Just need another milestone birthday. We can do without the pandemic, though.
nd followed up with us during our trip to make sure all was going well. I will definitely utilize Faraway Fairways for my next Scotland golf trip!