Scotland is the home of golf, offering more incredible golfing opportunities than you could shake a stick (or should I say club?) at, making it the perfect place for a golf trip.
Boasting everything from championship courses, hidden gems, to expert mini-golf, Scotland’s golf courses are amongst the oldest in the world.
With so many amazing courses to choose from, each being steeped in rich golfing history, situated in mesmerizing scenery and immersed in charming Scottish culture – there’s a lot to factor in when planning your golf trip to Scotland.
How can you pack it all in in one trip?
It can feel a little overwhelming organizing your own golf trip, so I’ve laid out 9 simple steps for you to follow, covering everything from transport to accommodation to dining out to booking courses.
Let’s get into the swing of it!
When to UsE A Tour Operator?
Booking your own golf trip has many benefits. By doing the research yourself, you can pick and choose what you’d like to do and see with greater flexibility than that offered by a travel agent or tour operator.
The process of planning also means you learn more about the destination, helping you to better immerse in the culture once you arrive. Planning yourself is also much cheaper, meaning you can spend the money you save on doing even more while you’re there.
Saying this, using a Tour Operator does have its benefits.
Their experience in the industry means they can plan you the holiday of dreams – but as mentioned, it does come at a cost.
If you are a large group and have decided on an all-singing, all-dancing, once-in-a-lifetime golf holiday such as featured in The Magic of Scotland: The Top 7 Courses to Tour, a Tour Operator may be the best option.
- Getting an itinerary that fits in everything and runs smoothly can be difficult and time consuming.
- Scottland is one of the most popular golf destinations so getting tee times for many must-play courses can be difficult, particularly if you are a larger group.
- Finding rental cars and other driving arrangements can be difficult
- Accommodation can be difficult for larger groups.
- Even restaurants for large numbers may need booking in advance in the height of the season.
Tour Operators have the knowledge and contacts to make sure that all of the above are organized before your trip, meaning your holiday is sure to run smoothly and hassle-free.
9 steps to book your own golf trip to Scotland
If you’re in a smaller group, you’re working on a budget or you’d just rather be in charge of planning your own golf trip to Scotland, then
#1: Choose Your Destination
The first thing to do is to choose which part of Scotland you want to be based and which parts you want to visit. We have a bunch of Scottish Travel Guides that should help make this decision an easier process:
The beauty of picking one of these destinations is that you have very little traveling to do once you arrive, as each is only a short drive to various incredible courses – saving both time and money.
The Ayrshire and East Lothian options are great options if you’re traveling with non-golfing partners, who can escape to the neighboring cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh for a sightseeing holiday while you golf.
An important caveat is to examine what major golf events are in the diary for Scotland. If you are selecting an Open Championship venue hosting the event in the year you plan to travel, they will be closed well in advance of the event, so that timeframe should be avoided.
There is also the Scottish Open to take into consideration along with any Ladies European Tour and Senior Tour events along with big Amateur Championships. Sounds like a lot to consider, but all of this is easily researched.
The Old Course at St Andrews is also closed for two weeks every September when they host the Royal and Ancient Golf Club Autumn Meeting.
The trouble with wanting to play the best is that these courses also attract the interest of all the top golf competitions. Fortunately, they are all scheduled well in advance, and easy to find out the locations and dates with a quick Google search.
#2: Your Budget
Second up, you’ve got to agree on a reasonable and realistic budget for yourself and anyone that you will be traveling with.
Budgeting is crucial, as being some of the best and most sought-after links in the World, playing on many of Scotland’s golf courses can be on the more expensive side.
For those on a tighter budget who have always wanted to visit Scotland but the price has been an obstacle, then you may consider looking at another Tour Guide feature Hidden Gems.
As the title suggests, the Hidden Gems option still provides a fantastic links golf experience at a more affordable price.
#3: The Golf
Once you know your destination and budget, now onto what your holiday is about – the golf.
It’s advisable to start with the main Championship courses as they will be the toughest to get. I would try and fit these in the middle of the trip.
You want to start with a more gentle option to find your feet on the links and you may be running out of gas at the end after so many days golfing. After all, who out there is used to playing golf every day for seven or more days?
Based on the option you may select:
- St Andrews Tour – The Old Course first, then Kingsbarns and you should be able to complete the rest of the week without too many problems.
- Ayrshire Tour – Royal Troon and Turnberry are the priorities, then slot in the others to suit.
- East Lothian – Muirfield limits days to play so must be booked first. Renaissance Links also has restrictions so get these booked first before moving on to the others.
When you send your email to book, if you have a window of a month, ask for availability throughout the whole date range.
Once you have dates and times from all the clubs, I am sure that you will have at least one week that fits your golf itinerary.
Now the final email to every club to confirm the times and dates. The hard work is now done.
Considering a caddy? Know what the caddy requirements are in your group and bok them at source when you confirm the golf to complete your golf program.
#4: Advance Planning With Your Group
Third, it’s important to get an idea of some key factors of your trip with your travel buddies.
Whoever has taken on the responsibility of booking the holiday will speak to his companions and agree on a date for their trip. Ideally, you will have a window to work in, for instance, any week in June.
b) Type of Accommodation
Another discussion with your buddies to decide on your preferred choice and budget. It may a hotel with a minimum 4-star rating, bed, and breakfast, or self-catering renting a house for the week.
Also, whether you are going for twin rooms or singles is another important question to ask – not relevant, of course, if a group of couples.
c) To Drive or Be Driven?
If you, the organizer, are happy to drive, then as long as eveyone else is okay with this, then happy days. If not, then you will need to find out if anybody else is prepared to take on this duty.
If nobody is stepping up to the plate, the decision becomes self-fulfilling. You will need a driver for the trip.
Another easy question to your mates. Do you want a caddy? Every day or just on certain courses?
#5: When To Start Booking?
This is possibly the most important factor in getting what you want. I would recommend a minimum timeline of 18 months in advance.
My logic here is based on golf as there are limits with tee times that many of the clubs can offer and they usually fill up around a year in advance.
Booking just before this window means you’ll not only be able to find a timeslot, but the timeslot that most suits you.
#6: Research Accommodation
Once you’ve all agreed on the type of accommodation, time to research.
With modern-day booking mechanisms, it is not only quick and easy to find what you’re looking for, but also to find accomodation with a solid cancellation policy, so you’re covered just in case something happens that means you need to alter or cancel arrangements.
#7: Research Flights
When researching flights, it’s useful to look at timings for arrival and departure into your chosen airport, and how it fits with transfers or care rental to your next destination.
This is extra important if you plan on golfin on either the arrival or departure days, as this will have a bearing on the tee time needed for your golf on day 1 and also the last day.
#8: Book Accommodation
The golf is booked and you already know that the accommodation you have chosen is available. Just one quick process to book the accommodation. All done!
#9: Finalising All Bits And Pieces
The pressure is off! The core parts that are the hardest to book have been completed. Now you can move on to filling in the easier bits.
Book your flights to your chosen destination. Another bigger task ticked off.
You decided at the start your means of transportation for your holiday.
If you are hiring a car, don’t skimp on the size of the car. Remember each person has a golf bag stored in a large travel flight bag and a suitcase. You will need plenty of storage room in the car you hire.
If you have decided to be driven, then my recommended company to use is St Andrews Executive Travel.
This can be done much further down the road but if you know that you are going to eat out every night, why not check out your dining options and book restaurants, particularly those that seem to be the most popular.
This may or not be a part of your game plan. But if you do want to see a little more of Scotland, it is easy to research Things To Do.
If it is a holiday with non-golfing partners, then this becomes a much more important factor.
e) Golf Games and Bets
I am sure this will be a fun chat with your group before departure. Many of you will have your preferred games to play and bets to wager.
Whatever you decide upon, try and finalize a format for the trip that is a little bit special that works for everybody and suits all handicaps – after all, you want the competition to match the holiday.
There we have it, a step-by-step guide to make sure you become a star in the eyes of your golfing buddies by putting together the holiday. Now you hope that there are no hiccups once in Scotland to create a memorable experience that will stay long in the memory.
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