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Golf in Scotland - planning your golf vacation in Scotland.
Forget the claims of the others, Scotland is "The Home of Golf". The Scots invented the game and, in the process, laid down the early laws which to this day form the basis of the Rules of Golf as administered by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and the USGA. See below for some general comments on golf in Scotland followed by advice on how to get the best Scottish golf vacation possible and maximise your chances of times on the Old Course and some of Scotland's other most popular courses.
Scotland has over 500 golf courses, many of which are well known internationally but there are more - many more - excellent quality courses, often of championship standard and historical significance, just waiting to be discovered and savoured by the discerning golfer.
Most people will already be familiar with the great links which have hosted British Open Championships - St Andrews, Muirfield, Turnberry, Royal Troon, Prestwick and Carnoustie. However Scotland can offer a host of other links of genuine championship standard such as - Royal Dornoch, Nairn, Gullane, Western Gailes and North Berwick - alongside many other lesser known or visited golfing gems including - Southerness, Machrihanish, Cruden Bay and Dunbar.
I happen to feel that even these great courses fail to tell the real story of what golf in Scotland is, or was, really like. In order to understand where the game came from and how it developed I would suggest that you have a look at courses such as Portpatrick, Brora, Machrie, Traigh and Musselburgh.
We recognise that you have a number of options when planning your trip to Scotland and, accordingly, have concentrated on offering a personalised service which emphasises quality and value for money. We will listen and work with you to ensure you get the holiday you want - so leave the details and worry to us, then relax and enjoy the Golf.
Access to many of the Open Championship venues, and some of the other courses, can sometimes be difficult as well as being expensive - see below for guidance on how best to approach these courses.
While we will at all times try to meet your own golfing requirements, it is worth pointing out that avoiding the 'honeypot' courses will more often guarantee you tee-times, cost less and allow you to sample the many other outstanding, but often overlooked courses, which Scotland has to offer.
Golf Roots is a member of Golf Tourism Scotland.
Information and advice on playing the Old Course and other popular Scottish Courses.
St Andrews Old Course
Playing the Old Course in 2010.
St Andrews have recently changed the process for advance applications for the Old Course. When applying in advance they now request that you contact the Reservations Office on or after the first Wednesday in September for a tee-time in the following year. Thereafter you can re-apply in the following January for any cancellations. For play in 2010 this means that you must have submitted your application on Wednesday 6th January 2010.
The Open Golf Championship will also be played at St Andrews from 15th to 18th July 2010 and the course will be closed to visitors from mid june until late July.
A request for a time between April and October must be accompanied by a request for a time on one of the Trust's other 18 hole courses. On your application you need to: Provide details of all golfers (names, home golf clubs and handicaps), Nominate a Lead Golfer with a home address for all correspondence. (They will only accept instructions from the Lead Golfer), State the dates you wish to play (after checking course closures). A maximum of two times a day may be applied for (8 golfers max). St Andrews aim to advise people within 6 to 8 weeks if they have been succesful.
Golf Roots will provide advice and guidance on this process. St Andrews ask for the names, handicaps and home club details of all players and they will require a handicap certificate - the maximum handicap limit is 24 for men and 36 for ladies.
Stop Press...Please note that the application date for advance times for play on the Old Course in summer 2010 has now passed - Wednesday 6th January 2010. Applications for 2011 will be taken from Wednesday 1st September 2010.
If you are unsuccesful in your advance application the usual fall-back position is the dailly ballot.We can submit names ( a minimum of 2 players) to the ballot on your behalf, but this can only be done the day before wishing to play - 50% of available times are allocated via the ballot system. We have a 90% success rate for ballot applications - although no guarantees can be given. Historically St Andrews do not accept advance applications for play during September when the ballot is the only option.
There is a third way, albeit expensive, and the only one which guarantees times of playing this most famous of courses : The Old Course Experience. Through an exclusive contract with St Andrews Links Trust, The Old Course Experience is able to guarantee prime, advance, tee-times on The Old Course from April through to September. The Old Course Experience provides guaranteed prime tee-off times on the Old Course, New or Jubilee, Kingsbarns or Carnoustie Course along with three nights accommodation in St Andrews with full Scottish breakfast daily. This is an approach you should consider if you feel that you really must play the Old Course during your trip. Golf Roots Scotland has negotiated an agreement which ensures our clients can access these tee-times and we will gladly check availability and build an extended itinerary around these programmes.
In order to get an advance time for Turnberry (Ailsa Course) you will have to stay at the Turnberry Hotel (5 stars). This is expensive but wonderful, and tee times are usually easy to come by when staying at the hotel. Alternatively, the hotel makes times available to non resident golfers about 2 weeks in advance - not so good when planning a trip in advance but a good option on a short notice trip, or if you are prepared to take a chance.
Troon is a relatively easy course to access - albeit a tad expensive. A round on the Championship is £165 for 2010 while a round on both the Championship and Troon Portland course is £175. Visitors are welcome on Modays, Tuesdays and Thursdays only. They will require a handicap certificate - the maximum handicap limit is 20 for men and 30 for ladies.
Again applications have to be made in writing giving full information on all group members. Muirfield only accept visitors on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They will normally accept applications from May for play the following year and we can complete an application on your behalf. It is then best faxed by yourself - based on an observation that if they receive competing applications from members of the public or tour operators they will give preference to members of the public. They will require a handicap certificate - the maximum handicap limit is 18 for men and 24 for ladies.