ROADS, DRIVING, & AUTOMOBILES
UK Driving Experience – What to expect
With 65M people, the UK is a densely populated little island, but Scotland is very ‘Jekyll and Hyde’. Some of her roads are ‘open’ in the liberating sense of the word, and a real joy to drive. Both Edinburgh and Glasgow however are notoriously busy and not terribly well signed.
Driving in congested conditions (although frustrating) isn’t that difficult. It does grant the unfamiliar motorist a bit more time to survey things and consider their options.
You might also find you need to consider any non-golfer(s) and how comfortable they would be striking out on their own whilst the golfers play? The likelihood is that you’ll encounter a logistical issue here as well if non-golfers are using the only vehicle during the day, at the time that golfers are on the course. An appreciation of time and distance would be helpful in coming to any accommodation!
Self-drive or Driver guide?
In common with a lot of operators, self-drive is our default offer. Faraway Fairways are less certain however whether this is a genuine customer preference, or just the way provision evolved because its more convenient for remote tour operators? Faraway Fairways are UK based, and so would be neither remote nor unfamiliar with the challenges. Any transport issues we might encounter will also occur on our time zone which makes responding to them easier to manage. We therefore feel qualified to provide a brief self-drive summary to help you decide.
- You will have a right-hand drive vehicle
- You will need to drive on the left-hand side of the road
- You will encounter strange road-signs and highway laws that you’ll need to adapt to quickly
- You will encounter unfamiliar things like ‘traffic roundabouts’ and ‘giving way to the right’
- Even with sat-nav, you’ll run an enhanced risk of navigational error
- We would normally expect to be able to source an automatic transmission, but could end up with a manual gear-shift as there are many more of them. Automatic’s normally cost marginally more, but not significantly enough to worry about it
The principal gain of self-drive however is 100% independence. Even with a driver guide with whom you establish a good relationship, or someone who keeps out of your way to the point where you barely notice them, it is still never quite the same as being completely independent in your own friendship group
Part-drive therefore involves Faraway Fairways driving a car that carries your golf clubs, whilst the golfing party travel together/ follow, along with their personal luggage in the other car.
Small Size Group travel (four, perhaps five) – Self Drive
Traditionally tour operators use 7-9 person Multiple Person Vehicles (MPV’s), in order to accommodate a group of four, with provision for between 7-9 luggage items. Faraway Fairways can provide this too. If keeping your group together in a single travelling unit and one vehicle is a priority, then it makes much sense. We are increasingly finding however that it is better value to use two mid-range executive saloons instead (8-10 luggage items in total, plus the back-seat if needed).
The Hyundai 40i estate, has become an established favourite for golfers. Scope might exist to combine an executive type car (Mercedes/ BMW – for people and luggage) with a hatchback (golf clubs). This normally works out to be a more expensive combination than two saloons (approx £50pp more) but isn’t without its attraction, given that one car will be used more than the other. The hatchback is primarily used to help with the load moving between hotels. The executive car is used on golf days
Pro’s and Con’s of MPV versus Saloon cars
- The two vehicle option is more flexible, potentially allowing a group to split their areas of interest should you wish to do so (especially helpful for areas of non-golf activity).
- Having two vehicles can be particularly useful if you encounter split tee times (most likely to occur in groups of more than four golfers).
- Two vehicles would allow you to play different courses on the same day, in some cases this could be a question of choice, otherwise it might be the result of tee-time allocations (likely to occur with St Andrews)
- A second vehicle provides a level of contingency against something going badly wrong (mechanical breakdown).
- Two saloon cars normally have slightly more leg space, a marginally higher specification, and greater ride comfort than a standard MPV.
- There is normally little cost difference, (if anything it’s marginally cheaper for now).
- Two vehciles does involve a second fuel requirement
- Two vehicles might have the effect of splitting the group a bit as it requires two drivers, quite probably a two and two arrangement in a party of four
Medium Group travel (eight) – Self Drive
Faraway Fairways normally look to use nine-person MPV(s) for a medium-sized group of up to eight. This would be the largest vehicle that most of you will be able to drive legally. In broad terms, the same logistical pros and cons exist as that for the two saloon cars. You will probably find the saloon car easier to drive, albeit adapting to an MPV isn’t that demanding. Otherwise, the only thing that’s different is the scale given the capacity handling of the vehicles concerned.
An MPV people carrier outside of the Scores Hotel in St Andrews, with the rear of the R&A headquarters in the background and the 18th green beyond
Larger Group travel (nine plus) – Guided Drive
By the time your group begins to exceed eight or more, your options for self-drive are beginning to diminish outside of elaborate convoy solutions! (which are feasible incidentally). In most cases groups will now adopt the guided drive solution and settle back in a mini-bus/ coach in line with the travel class you wish to enjoy. As a general rule you ‘get what you pay for’ with regards to luxury and comfort.
One of the draw backs to self-drive is that it can detract from the group camaraderie experienced in travel if you decide to use two vehicles. Faraway Fairways’s ‘part-drive’ solution is a way of addressing this. Essentially vehicles carry people and luggage. Part-drive splits this load accordingly. The Part-drive solution allows a Faraway Fairways driver to transport either your golf clubs or luggage, which permits a group of four to stay together in the privacy of your friendship group in the second vehicle. It also removes the burden from one of them to be a second driver (or eight if using a pair of MPV’s).
This solution creates more room, but most appealing of all it gives a group a lot more flexibility, and most definitely so regarding ‘non-golf’ activity. It’s a solution that’s particularly well suited to tours that involve ‘a base’ where you only need to travel a golf bag each day. When travelling between locations it also allows one driver to follow another in cars that perhaps they’re a bit more familiar with and comfortable driving. In the unlikely event of an emergency breakdown, it also lends you a bit of insurance against missing a tee-time, or finding yourself in a remote area. Faraway Fairways certainly wouldn’t discourage any group of 4-6 people thinking along these lines, but suggest it isn’t an appropriate solution for any trips that involve taking a ferry to Ireland.
Faraway Fairways normally provide transport in line with comfort to distance. Many of the journey’s we undertake aren’t that far removed from a daily commute by way of time burden (45 mins). Consequently de-luxe options might be considered an unnecessary extravagance. Faraway Fairways are equally aware however that this might be something of a false equivalent. For many a golf trip to Scotland is something of a life-time ‘experience’. There is the old saying of, if it’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing properly.
Even if an executive car, (a Mercedes or BMW), is more than you really need, it undoubtedly provides a superior ride comfort. You might even consider combining the executive car in a ‘part-drive’ solution? This means one high quality executive car with a lesser quality saloon or even hatchback. On a golfing day all that would happen is that the clubs are transferred to the executive car allowing you to arrive at the course in style. The smaller car is primarily used to help with the load moving between hotels. This variant on the part-drive solution normally works out to be a more expensive combination than two mid-range saloons of similar quality (approx £80pp more) but isn’t without its attraction.
An executive car will normally give you a greater ride comfort
Larger groups are less likely to use an executive car option. They needn’t be compromised however as executive mini-coaches will normally have most, if not all of the following features; extra wide seats with individual arm and footrests, seat back tables, air-conditioning, TV/DVDs, mood lighting, double glazed windows and full draw curtains and cool boxes or fridges. Longer distance coaches can have a toilet and kitchen area with microwave, kettles, and fridges.
Luxury mini coaches and coaches are similar to a first class aircraft seat.
To help you make a little bit more sense of the geography, mileage, and journey times, we’ve linked the RAC’s journey planner. Simply add the ‘to’ and ‘from’ destinations (A & B) and then click ‘Get Route’. You can add a ‘via’ point by clicking ‘add destination’ underneath the two options you’ve entered. The Highland and Wilderness tours are the longest. The most that any single day will involve is about three and a half hours. The only other significant journey is the one undertaken from Turnberry to Edinburgh (about two and a half hours).