Turnberry Royal Troon & Ayrshire Golf Vacation
Also includes, Prestwick, Machrihanish Western Gailes & Dundonald
Also includes, Prestwick, Machrihanish Western Gailes & Dundonald
Once visiting golfers have ‘done’ St Andrews it isn’t long before their attention turns to Scotland’s Ayrshire coast and the next cluster of world-class links, the Turnberry Troon Golf Vacation naturally features some of Scotland’s most illustrious names. Turnberry is perennially ranked in the world’s top-20, and home of the legendry 1977 ‘Duel in the Sun’ between Nicklaus and Watson. It is the most aesthetically pleasing links on the Open championship rotation with the most exhilarating stretch of coastal golf in the world. Royal Troon is another Open course famed for ‘the Postage Stamp’ and the ‘Railway Hole’. Prestwick completes the trio of Open venues, having hosted the original event in 1860, and has itself earned a place on the prestigious world-top-100 ranking. Regarded by many as having the best opening hole in golf, the wild links of Machrihanish on the Kintyre Peninsula add a fourth ensuring this particular Scottish package golf tour contains the most top-100 ranked courses of any region
Faraway Fairways supplement these Ayrshire golf jewels with the final Open Championship qualifying venue of Glasgow Gailes. It isn’t long before any conversation about Scotland’s ‘next links’, the highest ranked that is outside the world’s top-100, alights on the name of Western Gailes. Featuring just about every hazard and challenge known to us, Western Gailes is arguably the most archetypal links course in Scotland. The European Tour venue of Dundonald hosted the 2017 Scottish Open and is beginning to earn greater appreciation as it beds down
The Turnberry Troon Golf Vacation has also included an option now to engage with the spirit of golf, on the Isle of Arran where you’ll encounter some of Scotland’s best nine hole courses, and a particularly charismatic 12-hole course at Shiskine. These courses are lovingly maintained, and comparatively inexpensive. In some cases you can pay and play, others just require you leave your green fee in the ‘honesty box’! You get the picture?
TransportSelf-drive arriving in Glasgow works best. Involves a 50 min "hopper" flight to Machrihanish Can involve 50 min car ferry to Arran
LogisticsTwin centre; daily ‘back-to-base’ structure
Non-Golf OfferLimited - options include: Glasgow, Culzean Castle & Arran
MileageLow - 200 miles Approx 5 hours (estimate doesn't include flights)
Travel ClassLuxury, Premier & Affordable
FRIDAY - Western Gailes
Often described as the area’s ‘hidden gem’, Western Gailes embodies much that is typical of the Ayrshire links sandwiched as it is between the sea and the ubiquitous railway line. Reading the fickle wind that snaps in off the adjacent Firth of Clyde, is the key. The challenge is compounded by undulating terrain, and finely contoured greens cleverly set in the folds of the sand dunes. The line of dunes runs the coastal stretch from the 5th to the 13th. Another links staple appears at the 14th, an out of bounds wall. Pot bunkers and fairway burns, are also much in evidence, which combine with traditional vegetative defenders, gorse and heather to present ‘the’ archetypal links challenge.
SATURDAY - Dundonald
Flushed by the success of Kingsbarns, the ambitions of Ayrshire and Kyle Phillips conveniently and naturally collided as one wanted something similar, and the other wanted a new project. Phillips set about building another brand new links type course drawing on his observation of tradition through enhancing the existing, rather than manufacturing the phoney. It’s being faithful to this philosophy that leads us to think these courses are much older. Dundonald is starting to gain wider acclaim as it matures. In 2017 it became a European tour venue hosting Scottish Open won by Rafa Cabrera Bello (Rory missed the cut). Dundonald is now established in the family of links just below ‘Major’ standard
SUNDAY - Glasgow Gailes
Gailes Links is owned by Glasgow Golf Club, the 9th oldest Golf Club in the world. Slightly inland from Western Gailes it’s marginally more protected from the wind, but makes up for it instead by supporting the greater variety of vegetation. On the west coast of Scotland this means gorse, and a lost ball. In 2014 the R&A altered the way in which final Open was to be managed. Permanent venues would be used in the UK. Gailes is such a fairly balanced course which combines so many aspects of a links golf in equilibrium, that it was adopted as Scotland’s ‘only’ final qualifying venue.
MONDAY - Royal Troon
Troon is a traditional links and has hosted the Open a total of eight times. Make your score going out. The inward nine against the omni-present wind is always a trial, made harder by hideously deep rough interspersed with thick gorse and broom. The par 3, eighth, described by Willie Park as “a pitching surface skimmed down to the size of a Postage Stamp” is the signature hole. The name stuck. It’s the par 4, eleventh, ‘the Railway Hole’, that’s most feared though. In 1997 Tiger Woods carded an eight here. Jack Nicklaus was even more chewed up. He returned a ten in 1962. More recently Troon staged the memorable 2016 Championship. Henrik Stenson edged Phil Mickelson in one of the most stunning displays of head-to-head play in Major Championship history. They pulled a remarkable 11 shots clear, both shooting record equalling 63’s en-route.
TUESDAY - 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 hole out to sea might become the most awe inspiring.
TUESDAY - A Day on Arran
The Isle of Arran can’t match Turnberry for golfing heritage or spectacle (few places can) it does however offer you a ‘fun’ alternative and should be considered in this light. It is different rather than being an equal. We sail to Arran (55 minutes from Ardrossan) where we explore some of Scotland’s best nine hole courses. We roll these up into a full day that involves playing Shiskine, Corrie, Machrie Bay and provided we get enough time, Lochranza . There are a plethora of par 3’s (which let’s be honest, everyone loves) played in a post glacial, post volcanic landscape due to a geological fault-line that bisects the island.
WEDNESDAY - 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.
THURSDAY - Macrihanish
Perched on the western most tip of the Kintyre Peninsula, Machrihanish is wild, remote, windswept and very, beautiful. As you might expect being just 12 miles from North Ireland, the coast shares some Irish traits, notably dramatic high dune systems, whereas the subtle undulations in the fairways are more Scottish. This is pure links theatre. Golf Digest rate Machrihanish the 57th best course in the world. It’s top drawer. It also possesses what many regard as the finest opening tee shot on the planet, played over the beach onto the fairway beyond, and daring you to carve off more and more until you perish. It sets the tone for an exhilarating round.
THURSDAY - Macrihanish Dunes
Scotland is the home of golf, but in terms of finding a course that most faithfully observes the games foundations we might turn to something surprisingly modern. If you want to experience a links challenge similar to that which the games pioneers faced, then ‘Mach Dunes’ is it. This is the perfect symbiosis of natural landscape and hazard in harmony. The pioneers who took to the links land didn’t have mechanical earth moving machinery. They looked into the landscape, worked with it, and went about conceiving their own challenges. In time consensus emerged which gave way to the adoption of ‘routes’ which duly became courses. Of its 270 acres only 7 have been subject to earth working. The rough is managed by two flocks of roaming sheep with grazing rights, and bunkers are developments of burrowing animals! This is authentic links, and actually genuine.
Royal Troon applies a handicap threshold of 20 for gentlemen, and 30 for ladies
Prestwick applies a handicap threshold of 24 for gentlemen, and 28 for ladies respectively.
Some known issues to consider
Royal Troon doesn't operate a visitors shoulder season
A day-trip to play on the Isle of Arran might be disrupted by a ferry failing sail. In truth, if the weather has stopped a ferry, it's probably stopped golf anyway. We can usually manage around this however as we simply stay on the mainland and play elsewhere
If you don't wish to take the hopper flight to Machrihanish, the alternative road trip around the Kintyre peninsula takes about 4 hours
Dundonald does periodically host the Scottish Open which will close it down from mid June until early/mid July
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