Golf, golf, and more golf!
- More about your oliver guide: Caroline Prezzano
- Trip type: Adult, City
- Activity level: high
- Ideal length of trip: Anywhere from one week with two destinations, 12 days to hit three, or 2.5-3 weeks to truly experience this comprehensive Scottish golf tour...
to & from
Depending on where you are starting your trip, Philadelphia only flies directly into Glasgow airport, whereas you can fly straight into Edinburgh airport, which is closer to your key destinations, from JFK. Connecting in New York or over in Heathrow or Gatwick may be necessary if you live in a town with a smaller airport.
Fly whichever airline that you have the most status with and try to upgrade!
Renting a car in advance is a must. I recommend your car has a GPS system and enough room for your sticks. Traveling with the amount of luggage you need over there, requires you rent an SUV or at least one size larger than normal.
Where to Stay
Scotland, the home of golf dating back to the 1400’s, has so much to offer, that you can tackle it in a number of ways…
St. Andrews – Old Course Hotel (newer and fancier option) or Rusacks Hotel (request room 125) is a more classic choice, where you can enjoy your breakfast overlooking the 18th hole of the Old Course.
Gullane – Greywalls is by far my most favorite hotel in all of Scotland. Ask for room 18 with windows galore to admire the beautiful scenery surrounding historic Muirfield.
Aberdeen – Marcliffe Hotel and Spa – up the coast from Gullane
Culloden House – even further up the coast into the Highlands
Skibo Castle – to the west of Dornoch in the Highlands but worth the trip to experience Andrew Carnegie’s legacy
Trump Turnberry – on the west coast of Scotland, South of Glasgow
Gleneagles Hotel – Auchterarder – a Scottish Greenbrier or Homestead!
Where to Eat and Drink
One travels to Scotland for the incredible golf, the experience of playing the game where it all began, and for the beauty of the countryside…the meals are great fun when recapping a long day out on the links, but as a general rule, the food is not the highlight!
That said, a few favorites…
St. Andrews – lunch at The Jigger Inn and dinner at the Peat Inn are classics
Muirfield – no reason to stray far from this charming spot
Gleneagles – also excellent food, although skip the English tea, which is incredibly over priced!
As a general rule of thumb, skip the Haggis. Once you look it up, you will understand why!!!
What to Do
Golf, golf, and more golf!
About an hour from Edinburgh, you will arrive in St. Andrews, which is more than just a golfing Mecca, but a university town worth exploring on foot.
Play… The Old Course is needless to say paramount. You can try to book a tee time online one year out or wait until you arrive and roll the dice with the daily ballot two days before. Then, the New Course (1898), which many consider the superior track is definitely worth playing.
Within an hour, Balcomie, Kingsbarns, Elie, and Crail are all worth playing.
Heading to the south of Edinburgh instead… while staying at Greywalls, play Muirfield, where a woman in the group is doable but can be tricky. In addition, North Berwick and the three courses at Gullane, especially Gullane No. 1, are fun to see.
I have done one recent trip where the two stops above were enough. Think two hotels, 7 or 8 nights, and you have seen the two must dos. If you want to see more…
Aberdeen is further to the north of St. Andrews, and while staying at Marcliffe, play at Royal Aberdeen, where many say the best front nine in Scotland exists.
Just up the coast, Trump International Golf Links, with a Scottish manor hotel, awaits. From here, also play Cruden Bay, once a hidden gem and now a must play.
Even further north and into the Highlands, near Inverness, Culloden House Hotel awaits with nearby Nairn and Castle Stuart in the vicinity for a few 18’s.
The Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle is about an hour further north and is worth the trip, and Royal Dornochbis just down the road.
South of Glasgow, stay at Trump’s Turnberry Hotel, and play Turnberry Golf Course and Western Gaines. Troon is another option, but women guests are not allowed, and it is a long haul that is quite frankly not worth it.
Lastly, about an hour northwest of Edinburgh and 45 minutes northeast of Glasgow, the Scottish version of the beloved American resorts the Greenbrier and Homestead awaits! The Land Rover driving course is a fun change of pace and break from carrying the bag 18. Play the King’s and Queen’s courses and skip the newer PGA Centenary Course, a Nicholas design.
Of course Perry Golf is an option, and they can plan your entire trip for you. But, part of the fun is mapping out this adventure and putting your own puzzle pieces together depending on how many days you have to dedicate to golfing across the pond.
When debating Ireland versus Scotland, the former is definitely more wild and woolly, you will quickly realize when planning that the courses are much further apart, the must plays are not as congregated, and the roads are much harder to navigate in Ireland.
Scotland offers you a variety of itineraries ranging from a week to three, all of which include hotels where a number of courses are easily accessible at one time.
Scotland is ideal for families with older children who are serious about golf, a husband/wife duo ready to be paired up with a few other twosomes along the way, a couples trip, or of course a guys golf pilgrimage. Any way you look at this country, you cannot go wrong.
Skip Carnoustie. And the over priced tea at Gleneagles!