FAQs Golf vacations in Scotland

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At Faraway Fairways we encounter a series of frequently asked questions regarding golf vacations in Scotland. We thought it might be helpful to pull a dozen or so of the more popular ones together and split them into following categories, St Andrews, Best time of Year, Size of Group, and Price Guide.

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If Faraway Fairways had to nominate on single thing that causes more problems than anything else it would be this. Don’t obsess on the St Andrews Old Course. OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way, it probably only seems fair to explain why

We frequently see golfer’s obsession with St Andrews closing down other opportunities. The most obvious of these concerns a willingness to pay a green fee up to eight times what it should cost in the pursuit of a ‘guaranteed’ tee time. If you’re cash rich, time poor, and have got money to burn, this might have its attraction, but in a lot of cases golfers will seek the security of a guarantee when they don’t necessarily need it due to unnecessary fear.

St Andrews fever can also extend to ‘advanced guaranteed’ applications too. Every year we’ll receive enquiries from disappointed golfers who waited until late October/ early November for an advanced ballot result. Whereas the advanced guarantee offers golf at a much fairer price, (this is a big part of its attraction) it involves going deep into the buying season. Those who are asking us to include Muirfield or Royal County Down for example in their package, have already missed the boat by this time of year. If they’re seeking a peak season date, and are asking to include Royal Troon, Royal Dornoch and Carnoustie as well, they’re going to be right on the margins by November. Their focus on St Andrews has caused them to miss booking windows on other courses. It can extend to hotels too

Here’s the bottom-line. Your prospects of winning an advanced ballot are not that high. Even at the very peak of the summer season, provided you’re able to set at least three days aside to make daily ballot applications, your chances of succeeding with these are higher than they are on the advanced ballot

The problem with the advanced ballot is that it can put everything on hold pending the result. Whilst you’re waiting, other golfers are buying though. It’s a far better strategy to buy the other courses which are otherwise at risk of being sold-out and reducing the number of days to aim your advanced ballot application into. This way at least you will have something to show by early November. As we’ve already alluded to, the odds were always against. Reducing a 10% chance to a 7% chance needn’t really alter things that much. Losing Carnoustie, Troon, and Muirfield however does. Basically the golfer who is consumed by St Andrews and puts everything on hold whilst they wait, is putting their other courses at risk. They’re doing this in the face of a likely outcome that offers them a lower strike-rate than a conventional 48 hour ballot would later in the following season

We’ve mentioned Muirfield, and this is another mistake golfer’s often make. If you wish to play a summer round have your party in place by March 1st for the following season. Muirfield goes on sale in late March. By the end of April a majority of their popular dates will have sold-out, although some can last into May.

May is the critical month for Royal County Down. Have everything in place for May 1st so as to capitalise on the release of their tee-times in the third week of the month.

Royal Portrush is also worth getting early. They operate a waiting list and the sooner we can get on it the better. The same is true of Royal Dornoch. This means February/ March time for confirmations later in the season. Mid June is the date we’d ideally like to observe for both Carnoustie and Royal Troon in order to try and get the pick of the crop there. We can salvage times into the autumn on both those courses, but it gets progressively more difficult and we’ll find ourselves being pushed to the end of the tee-sheet

One final piece of advice we might offer concerns how you develop a relationship with a tour operator. Be wary about cherry-picking parts of the assembly yourself.

We’re increasingly seeing individuals booking their own accommodations (the advance of Airbnb in particular) and to a lesser extent transports, and then asking a tour operator to take over the complicated bits that involve the golf. Whereas Faraway Fairways aren’t that bad about accepting this proposition (usually we will) there reaches a point where some tour operators will simply decline. You could easily find that you’re simply invited to finish the job yourself if an operator perceives that the commercial incentive for them to take over the responsibility has been eroded to the point where it no longer warrants the risk

The reason for this is quite simple really. Golf tour operators are commercial entities. That is to say golf, accommodation, and transport all contribute. An enquiry that cuts off two of these avenues is clearly a less lucrative proposition. A lot will depend now on the identity of the courses you’re left looking to play, and the number of people in your party. If these have squeezed the operator though, then there is a chance they’ll politely decline to take the booking forward for you

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