Low Season Scottish Golf Tour
The Cheapest Top Quality Golf Vacation in Scotland
The Cheapest Top Quality Golf Vacation in Scotland
Naturally Faraway Fairways were reluctant to use the word ‘cheapest’ but we wanted to offer you some outstanding high-class value. As you might have anticipated however, this means playing in the low-season, be it the winter months or the narrower shoulder season at the start of April or end of October.
The low-season often throws up more challenging conditions. Some golfer’s welcome this more demanding test and indeed revel in the unfairness of the game. The price of playing these iconic courses falls significantly and no one minds that.
So what does the cheapest top quality golf vacation in Scotland include? Muirfield is an undoubted jewel. World ranked top-10, it is regarded by many as the most complete test of a links golfer. North Berwick is a grand old quirky links of charismatic character and ranks in the world’s top-50. They replace Troon and Kingsbarns from the summer itinerary. You might justifiably conclude this is a net gain. The east coast giants of St Andrews, the home of golf, and Carnoustie, the toughest links on the Open championship rotation are still retained. On the west coast, Turnberry, the most aesthetic of the Open venues, adds a third world top-20 course to your list. The final weave in this tapestry lies inland where deep in the Perthshire countryside you’ll find the majestic Gleneagles estate, home of the 2014 Ryder Cup and 2019 Solheim Cup.
In summary, the cheapest top quality golf vacation in Scotland loses nothing on the class side of the ledger. It will allow you to justifiably look at your ‘catch net’ after a week and say that this has indeed been a haul of Scotland’s classic links giants. One thing we do perhaps need to stress however is not to overdo the pursuit of cost savings. There does reach a point where the compromises you’re making begin to impact the quality. Know where to draw the line.
TransportSelf-drive option works best.
Logistics‘Point-to-point’ touring structure
Non-Golf OfferModerate -The season will curtail the scope Edinburgh, Stirling & St Andrews
MileageMedium - (475 miles) Approximately 10 hrs
Travel ClassSupports - Luxury, Premier and Affordable
Old CourseVery likely to play through the ballot. Walk-Up-Rule close to guaranteed
WEDNESDAY - North Berwick
The links of North Berwick are a traditional out and back nine. Undulating fairways, blind shots, tricky burns and even stone walls make their presence felt in the landscape. The course really is a throw back to the experiences of the game’s pioneers. They had to interpret the landscape and weave the hazards nature handed them into their own personal tapestries. The courses were handcrafted, and North Berwick has an endearing old-fashioned feel. It also possesses the original ‘Redan’ hole, (15). Found the world over, ‘Redans’ are the most copied hole in golf. With an eerie similarity to Turnberry’s Ailsa Craig, Bass Rock rears out the ocean, and lends North Berwick further personality. It would be wrong to think that it’s a curiosity relic though. It’s a beguiling world top-50 ranked course on merit.
THURSDAY - Muirfield
Frequently ranked inside the world’s top 10, Muirfield is always immaculately maintained and doesn’t have any weak holes. So impressed was Jack he went back to Ohio he built Muirfield Village in homage to the original. Muirfield embraces all three paradigms of golf design penal, heroic and strategic. It tests all aspects of your game. The prestigious roll call of Muirfield Open championship winners is perhaps its best testimonial. Player, Nicklaus, Trevino, Watson, Faldo, Els & most recently of course, Mickelson. It offers golfers choices and then requires you to execute. It is a golfers, golf course. Muirfield is notoriously exclusive however, access is limited.
FRIDAY - Carnoustie
American media commentators wasted no time dubbing the Tayside course ‘Car-Nasty’. Few would deny the claims of Carnoustie to the crown of toughest Open venue of them all. Carnoustie is long, dark, and menacing. It has a number of challenging holes, particularly the par fives. The Spectacles’ (14) and ‘Hogan’s Alley’ (6) are the two toughest assignments on the stroke index. The par 3 sixteenth is another shocker. It’s the enduring image from the 1999 Open of Jean van de Velde paddling about in the Barry Burn however, that cemented Carnoustie’s legend. Sports Illustrated described the course as being “a nasty old antique brought down from the attic by the R&A after 24 years” as scoring soared. Carnoustie revels in such notoriety. If the wind gets up you’re unlikely to ever play a tougher assignment.
SATURDAY - St Andrews Old Course
St Andrews, the home of golf, needs little introduction nor hype from us. The first surviving record of the game being played here dates to 1522. The town oozes atmosphere and the course is soaked in heritage. The view from the iconic Swilcan Bridge looking back up the final fairway to the magnificent R&A headquarters and red bricked Hamilton Hall is one of the most instantly recognisable in world sport, never mind golf. ‘The Road Hole’, the 17th, is the signature assignment. No hole yields more bogeys in the Open than this one. Another unique feature are the massive double greens. The secret? don’t be over-awed. Keep out the 112 bunkers, especially so ‘Hell Bunker’ at the 14th. Then attack the course! St Andrews is actually one of the more obliging links, so don’t leave wondering what might have been. It can be tamed!
SATURDAY - St Andrew New Course
“New” in the context of St Andrews means 1895! The course is often said to be the town’s favourite. It’s a tighter and more defined course than its regal neighbour, and aided by yellow gorse bushes, it tends to be more aesthetic too. The ‘New’ runs adjacent to the Old course and as a consequence has similar characteristics. The fairways are undulating but not as dipped as the Old course, leading to fewer hanging lies. A traditional out and back nine, only the 3rd and 15th share a green. The burn wends its way through a low dune system and features some particularly charismatic holes. The 464yd tenth is often cited as the pick. Think about it logically. It’s likely that the newer course that was designed for purpose, would be the better golf course than the ancient artefact. The good folk of St Andrews know!
SUNDAY - Gleneagles
The Gleneagles resort is closer in ambience to an aristocratic hunting estate with deep forest green pine trees, and rounded hills that stop just short of being called mountains. In autumn, the purple heathers and russet bracken blend seamlessly into a patchwork of golfing green, and give this place it’s hues. The yellows of the long rough introduce further colouration into the landscape. It would be categorised as a moorland course. A credible body of opinion regards the Gleneagles Kings course as the finest of its type in the world. In 2014 Gleneagles added the Ryder Cup to its portfolio when the Centenary course’ became only the second Scottish venue to host. The aesthetic Queens course is the shortest and completes the trinity of options.
MONDAY - Trump Turnberry
The iconic Stevenson lighthouse sitting on its craggy headland in amongst the ruins of Turnberry castle, and with views of Ailsa Craig and the Isle of Arran out to sea, plus a tendency to put on spectacular sunsets, Turnberry is the most aesthetic of all the Open venues. In modern golfing legend Turnberry is forever etched in the pages of history as the location for the ‘duel in the sun’ from 1977 when Tom Watson narrowly prevailed over Jack Nicklaus with the rest nowhere. Myths are made in moments, but legends last a lifetime. In 2016 the course finished it’s stunning redevelopment. The new holes 9-11, look set to become the signature stretch. Not so much Amen Corner, as perhaps a Rocky Horror! The fifth is the hardest on the course and has been toughened up further. The fourteenth, an infinity green looking out to sea might become the most inspiring.
MONDAY - Prestwick
Prestwick is the home of the first ever Open Championship of Golf, and therefore the genesis of all such modern variants played since. This is your chance to tackle the original ‘Open’ undulations, the narrowest fairway in Europe, and the continents ‘biggest bunker’. Today’s course remains surprisingly faithful. Unreasonable fairway ricochets, and a plethora of ‘blind shots’ abound. Six of the original greens played from 1860 are still in use. A number of holes, including the famous par 5, ‘Cardinal’ have only received the absolute minimal alteration over the decades. The opening ‘Railway hole’ is another timeless links classic. Prestwick’s quirky and charismatic. To play here, really is to step back in time. No where is quite like it, nor can it be.
The St Andrews Links Trust don't publish ballot strike-rates. Faraway Fairways do occasionally succeed in extracting an off the record opinion however. In addition to this, we’re also able to draw on our own evidence, and that which we’re able to extract from credible co-operative partners (usually hotels) plus what other tour operators might tell us.
The winter season proper is normally no problem. It's not unheard of even for a tee-sheet to be incomplete.
We wouldn't anticipate not being able to play the Old course because of access reasons. The weather is likely to be a bigger problem than the ballot
St Andrews advise the following for the Old Course. “A current official handicap card (Golf Club affiliated to a Golf Union/Association) record or certificate must be presented to the starter prior to play. Maximum handicaps – 36 for both gentlemen and ladies. St Andrews will not accept letters of introduction from a local Club Professional”.
Muirfield operates a handicap threshold of 18 which is the lowest we'll encounter. So long as you can meet this, you'll be alright everywhere else
Carnoustie operates a handicap threshold of 28 for gentlemen, and 36 for ladies respectively.
North Berwick operates a handicap threshold of 24 for gentlemen, and 36 for ladies respectively.
Prestwick applies a handicap threshold of 24 for gentlemen, and 28 for ladies respectively.
Some known issues to consider
There is always an enhanced weather risk associated with playing in the low season. The prevailing 'bad weather policy' that applies to the relevant golf club affected will be used.
Muirfield opens their diary at the end of March for play the following year. This usually means we need to observe a 12-18 month planning lead time. Low season tee-times don't sell out anywhere near as quickly however and decisions can usually be left until September
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