Every golfer worth his salt has a bucket list trip to the mecca of golf, St. Andrews, the Home of Golf. If you only plan one trip, you must head to St. Andrews and play the Old Course. (full disclosure, once you experience golf in Scotland, you will return!)
But where else to you play? Scotland’s roughly the size of West Virginia, and it’s relatively easy to get around, assuming you can master driving on the wrong side of the road! Here then, are some week-long itineraries for a variety of other regions on strictly links courses while finishing in St. Andrews.
Airports-There’s four main airports in Scotland with flights from either the US or London:
- Glasgow on the west coast
- Edinburgh on the east coast
- Inverness on the north coast in the Highlands
- Aberdeen on the east coast
West Coast, the most Open Rota courses of the options
Glasgow arrival, Lodging: Stay in the Prestwick/Troon area, with a wide range of guest houses and hotel/motels, or treat yourself and stay at the Turnberry Resort
Open Rota courses:
- Royal Troon
- Prestwick (where the Open was first played in the early years)
Western Gailes Golf Club
Travel time to St. Andrews 1.5 hours
West Coast-Kintyre Peninsula, maybe the most scenic routing of the options, but the most travel travel time.
Glasgow arrival, Play at Western Gailes the first day, stay in Troon on 1st night over
Catch the morning Caledonian ferry at Troon to the Isle of Arran, then from Lochranza to Claonaig on the Kintyre Peninsula, head south to Campbeltown. The Village at Machrihanish Dunes is a great choice, but there are other hotels and guest houses in town.
- Machrihanish Dunes
Prepare yourself for one of the more beautiful drives in Scotland, up the Kintyre Peninsula, along Loch Fyne and through the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park to St. Andrews, a four hour drive.
Fly into Inverness, and base there, great town, good restaurants, music, and pubs as the Capital of the Highlands, very scenic setting amongst the Highlands on the Moray Firth.
- Royal Dornoch
- Castle Stuart
Drive to St. Andrews-2.5 hours
Fly into Aberdeen, and stay in Aberdeen
- Royal Aberdeen
- The Trump Scotland
- Murcar Links
- Cruden Bay
Drive to St Andrews- 2 hours
Fly into and out of Edinburgh, stay on the east side of the city near Gullane
- North Berwick
- Gullane #2
Head to St. Andrews, 1.5 hours
St Andrews only for the entire week
Fly into Edinburgh, find a guest house in St. Andrews or stay at the swanky Old Course Hotel or the Fairmont, and base for a week. You’re almost guaranteed to play the Old if you register in the ballot every day for a weeks’ stay. The courses surrounding St. Andrews are many, the best links courses are:
- The Old
- The New
- Lundin Links
- Leven Links
You might also consider driving an hour to Gleneagles in the foothills of the Highlands. While there’s no links courses there, the Centenary by Jack Nicklaus is the venue for the 2014 Ryder Cup, and the Kings Course, a James Braid classic, is one of the finest inland courses in the country.
Having played all of the courses listed above, I couldn’t begin to suggest the best itinerary for your group. All are excellent golf courses, in unique and scenic settings, with the wonderful Scottish hospitality throughout. You might consider your groups tolerance for travel, interest in the Open Rota courses, desire to be near the larger cities when determining your trip. One thing’s for certain, you will have the time of your life!Cheers!