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Scotland Golf Trip 101 (The Compass Guide)


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#1 TheInfidel

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 05:50 AM

I'm an 8 hcp and I've lived in central Scotland for 15 years, I am very close to ticking off the last of the Top 100 courses in the country. One of the things I do most often on here is try and help people maximise their exposure to amazing Scottish courses when they're on a trip.  I've even booked some tee times for guys when they got stuck or had a gap day.  

What I thought I would put together is a North, South, East and West guide for the courses you should try and hit up. Disclaimer: I'm a golf nut first but a links golf fanatic second so the ranking here is subject to your own personal preference of courses, their amenities, difficulty, views etc.  I like a good stern test so that's my type of course. You get the drift.  I won't disagree with anyone on their views but want to support North American or International travellers when they have a chance, maybe a once in a life time chance to make the trip across the pond.  This is not a ranking exercise.  

Scotland isn't a big country but as an example it'll take you 5 hours to drive from Troon to Dornoch, hence why the best trips are usually clustered to get best coverage.  That is why I've tried to use the NSEW sectors to help you target an area.  I hope golf journeymen find this useful and if the other regular Scottish posters want to pop in their supporting advice I'd be delighted.  



NORTH (Inverness, Aberdeen, Grampian)
  • Royal Dornoch
  • Skibo Castle
  • Nairn
  • Trump International
  • Castle Stuart
  • Cruden Bay
  • Royal Aberdeen
  • Brora
  • Fraserburgh
  • Murcar

EAST (Angus, Tayside, Fife & Lothians)* Biggest area
  • St Andrews Old
  • Muirfield
  • Carnoustie
  • Kingsbarns
  • Archerfield (Fidra)
  • North Berwick
  • Gullane #1
  • Montrose
  • Dunbar
  • Ladybank
  • St Andrews New
  • The Dukes
  • Monifieth
  • Crail ( Balcomie)
  • Luffness
  • Panmure

SOUTH (Borders & Dumfriesshire) * Smallest area by courses
  • Southerness
  • Silloth on Solway (England)
  • The Roxburghe
  • Eyemouth
  • Cardrona
  • Hirsel
WEST (Ayrshire, Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, Islands & Galloway)
  • Royal Troon
  • Turnberry
  • Prestwick
  • Western Gailes
  • Macrihanish
  • Macrihanish Dunes
  • Dundonald Links
  • Loch Lomond
  • Glasgow Gailes
  • Irvine
  • Barassie
  • Shiskine
  • Ashkernish
  • Rowallan Castle
  • Kilmacolm
  • Lanark
  • Mar Hall

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#2 thezinfan

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 12:26 PM

Good list. If anyone is planning on a Scotland golf trip, I recommend Allan Ferguson's book Golf in Scotland https://www.amazon.c...asap_bc?ie=UTF8. Allan actually assisted booking my first and second trip to Scotland, and I self-booked trips 2-5! Avoid the tour companies unless you have a biiiiiiiig group and want to be driven around, but you are paying a 50-100% mark up for that.

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#3 TheInfidel

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Posted 22 June 2017 - 05:36 AM

View Postthezinfan, on 21 June 2017 - 12:26 PM, said:

Good list. If anyone is planning on a Scotland golf trip, I recommend Allan Ferguson's book Golf in Scotland https://www.amazon.c...asap_bc?ie=UTF8. Allan actually assisted booking my first and second trip to Scotland, and I self-booked trips 2-5! Avoid the tour companies unless you have a biiiiiiiig group and want to be driven around, but you are paying a 50-100% mark up for that.

Excellent recommendation.  I've read some of Allan's stuff and it's excellent.  I'd also recommend St Andrews Alum Graylyn Loomis' website, linked below.  He has some fantastic advice on the Fife and East Lothian areas as well as some really helpful itineraries which would maximise your travel and off course arrangements.  There's a huge amount of advice on his website for free.  

http://www.graylynloomis.com/
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#4 dadsfromlockhart

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Posted 22 June 2017 - 07:27 AM

Excellent lists infidel.  Thank you
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#5 sabram

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 06:55 PM

I'd have Lundin,  Leven, Elie and Renaissance on the East list and probably Gullane #2 as well.


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#6 TheInfidel

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Posted 29 June 2017 - 08:54 AM

View Postsabram, on 28 June 2017 - 06:55 PM, said:

I'd have Lundin,  Leven, Elie and Renaissance on the East list and probably Gullane #2 as well.

I certainly wouldn't argue with you, though the Fife and East Lothian course lists are packed out so I didn't want to just list forever.  Lundin and Leven are all time favourites for me, but don't provide the same level of challenge without wind, as they can play a little shorter.  That said the greens at both courses are currently top notch.
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#7 cu1998tigers

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Posted 29 June 2017 - 09:32 AM

Headed to Scotland next week for a boys trip. Playing the following:
  • Royal Aberdeen
  • Cruden Bay (36)
  • Old Course
  • New Course
  • Castle
  • Carnoustie
  • Kingsbarn (36)
Any suggestions on nightlife or things we should do besides golf

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#8 Connr

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 11:00 PM

Walk around the town of St. Andrews as it's very quaint.  Also visit the cemetery and pay your respects to "old" and "young" Tom Morris


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#9 Hawkeye77

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 07:01 AM

Very cool, thanks!

We are planning north then finish off with a few days in St. Andrews, but staying in Dornoch or Tain for an extended period. Dornoch, Cruden Bay (may have to play on the way to St. Andrews), Brora are on our list.  For ease of travel, looking also at Cullen, Tain, Moray, Boat of Garten, maybe some little 9 holers if we can find them.

Will definitely check out some of your other ideas, fun to plan.



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#10 TheInfidel

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 01:38 PM

View Postcu1998tigers, on 29 June 2017 - 09:32 AM, said:

Headed to Scotland next week for a boys trip. Playing the following:
  • Royal Aberdeen
  • Cruden Bay (36)
  • Old Course
  • New Course
  • Castle
  • Carnoustie
  • Kingsbarn (36)
Any suggestions on nightlife or things we should do besides golf
  • Get yourself into the Dunvegan for a pint of Guinness
  • Take some time in the Golf Museum behind the R&A clubhouse, it's worth a look
  • Grab some fish and chips from the Tail End
  • Maybe go for the Whisky flights in Forgans
  • Check out the Eden Mill gin distillery, a great tour
  • Don't miss out on Irn Bru, Square sausage, haggis, black pudding, and single malts!

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#11 MattTheTaff

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 04:07 PM

Drove past Lundin and Elie/Earlsferry a few times last week. They both look absolute quality. Fife is blessed with links courses.

I'm bringing my clubs next time.... and a few hundred quid for greens fees.
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#12 MattTheTaff

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 04:10 PM

View PostTheInfidel, on 02 July 2017 - 01:38 PM, said:

View Postcu1998tigers, on 29 June 2017 - 09:32 AM, said:

Headed to Scotland next week for a boys trip. Playing the following:
  • Royal Aberdeen
  • Cruden Bay (36)
  • Old Course
  • New Course
  • Castle
  • Carnoustie
  • Kingsbarn (36)
Any suggestions on nightlife or things we should do besides golf
  • Get yourself into the Dunvegan for a pint of Guinness
  • Take some time in the Golf Museum behind the R&A clubhouse, it's worth a look
  • Grab some fish and chips from the Tail End
  • Maybe go for the Whisky flights in Forgans
  • Check out the Eden Mill gin distillery, a great tour
  • Don't miss out on Irn Bru, Square sausage, haggis, black pudding, and single malts!

Boo to the Dunvegan.

Looked nice inside but alas.... not dog friendly. Get to the Jigger Inn and watch people fluff their second to the 17th.
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#13 crazy8golfer

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 07:54 PM

View Postthezinfan, on 21 June 2017 - 12:26 PM, said:

Good list. If anyone is planning on a Scotland golf trip, I recommend Allan Ferguson's book Golf in Scotland https://www.amazon.c...asap_bc?ie=UTF8. Allan actually assisted booking my first and second trip to Scotland, and I self-booked trips 2-5! Avoid the tour companies unless you have a biiiiiiiig group and want to be driven around, but you are paying a 50-100% mark up for that.
Allan help our 3 groups too, he knows the area very well.
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#14 Cwing

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Posted 04 July 2017 - 10:15 AM


Sorry for the copy/paste for those that had seen this before.

I made myself some notes in the event I ever take another overseas golf trip again. Here are those notes.

1) Consider NOT playing day 1. Far too much uncertainly with travel. Settle in, rest, release the travel stresses and maybe see some sites. Airline delays can cause many, many issues. You may not have clubs, you may have had zero sleep and you may miss your pre-paid tee time or be forced to play in a zombie state of mind. Yes, this happened during my trip. Hours of travel delays causing a missed connection and no clubs.

2) Get a light weight carry bag and get in walking shape. Although it may be reported that the courses are "designed to walk", mounds, dunes, etc... are all hills according to your body and a 6,200-6,400 yd course is still a 6,200-6,400 yd courses and you will be walking and carrying your bag.

3) Consider a pull/push cart at least some of the time. Bring a bungee cord. The rented push/pull carts may have well worn straps and make sure the brake works before you head out with it or your bag may wind up in a berm. Trust me on this, I know. Electric pull/push carts are available to rent but far more expensive than the push/pull carts.

4) Consider taking a short set. I left my 4 hybrid at home and choked down on my 3 hybrid when I needed the 4. I should have left my 60* at home. You'll need bounce on your wedge to get out of these bunkers but bounce is bad everywhere else. The fairways in Scotland are tight. I used my SW and left my 60* in the hotel.

5) Take plenty of balls as you may lose many. Very tall, thick grass. Go cheap. High spin, high cost balls and 60* wedges have little value when the play is to putt from 0- 80 yds or more in. I putted one from almost 100 yds out. You are very unlikely to use a wedge from less than 80 out.

6) Get a currency app on your phone. It is easy to think of a pound as a dollar but it is not. Check to see what you are actually paying. The conversion at the time of my trip was 1.64 dollars to 1 pound. 20 lbs = $33 and some change.

7) Get a no foreign transaction fee credit card and pin #. It is cheaper to get money from the ATM (3%) than to exchange cash (8-12%). Call your credit card company before you leave or it may get shut off. A chip in your CC is not necessary.

8) Take less clothes than you think. The sandy soil falls right off and the wind dries everything out very fast. With today's modern fabrics, simply rinse out and hang dry as needed --- it really won't be needed. Two pair of pants for the course and a pair of jeans/pants or two for off the course will do. Honestly, nothing anyone wore ever looked dirty despite the wind/rain and bunkers.

9) High quality rain gear including rain golf gloves and waterproof golf shoes are a must. Take a waterproof hat with a tie down strap. I took two pair of golf shoes for golf and only needed one. No shorts were worn by anyone the week we went (mid-Aug, 2014).

10) Attitude is everything. When the game goes south or the weather is bad, concentrate on the sights and where you are. You can ruin your trip very quickly if you let the weather and/or your golf game drive your attitude.

11) Consider taking a day off from golf in the middle for site seeing. It may help the body recover.

12) Don't be afraid to mix it up if people are struggling with their games. Consider a mid-week Shamble or Scramble. We did a one day shamble to "mostly" take the tee ball out of play. A shamble is when all tee off and you play from the best tee ball position but play your own ball in the rest of the way.

13) Afternoon/late tee times and lack of transportation may make it difficult to see the sites. Consider early tee times.

14) If you are in a group and renting a vehicle, be sure to consider trunk space as a hard golf travel case may not fit in the trunk. If you use a travel service to set up your golf and transportation, you may need additional transportation to see the sites.

15) You'll need a 3 prong 240v adapter to charge your electronics. Most electronics are set up for 120/240 so you will not need a full scale adapter. I got mine for $11 at RadioShack. By the way, electronics charge much faster with 240v than 120v.

16) Consider leaving the laptop at home and just use your smart phone. I took my tablet and never really used it although a downloaded movie or two for the plane ride would be nice.

17) Set up your cell service by calling your provider before you leave. Be aware of the costs associated with using it. Using your smart phone or tablet to FaceTime your family may be your best means of contact.

18) Less is more when packing and attitude is everything. Stay positive and enjoy the sites.

19) Take a caddy at St Andrews. The stories he will tell as he gives you the names of the bunkers and the history make it well worth it. Besides that, you will have no clue as to where to hit your tee shots and listen to him on the greens. We got one caddy for the group and all tipped him.

20) Stick to safe food choices. I like to try new stuff as much as anyone but why risk losing a day to an upset stomach or worse.

21) Go back and re-read #8 and #18. Take less than you think you will need.

I hope this helps,

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#15 jgonz69

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 12:25 AM

Anybody have any luck getting on the old course in the late afternoon? Gonna be there August 14.

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#16 andrue

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 02:28 AM

I liked the Newton Stewart course. Some interesting holes and of course a lovely area.
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#17 dcmidnight

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 04:40 AM

We decided to stay in St Andrews for all 7 nights for our trip next year. We initially had looked at two or three stops but honestly all the driving seemed like a lot of wasted time that I wasn't going to be golfing. And the more I looked - which I definitely didn't realize - there are so many courses to play in the area that I think we made the right call.

As CWing mentioned in his comments, we'll be taking a day off in the middle for some touring/rest/other stuff. But with so many courses around (incl two at the Fairmont) we'll have plenty of options if we do want to play.

Cant wait, deposits just went in yesterday!
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#18 Argonne69

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 10:30 AM

Are all the courses listed open to the public, i.e. don't require a club pro to call? Do any require an on-site stay, or can you lodge elsewhere? Also, do all allow singles to book, or do singles have to come out and hope to get on?

I'm considering a solo trip, and booking/playing as a single always involves more challenges than it should.

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#19 Psi high

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 11:25 AM

View Postjgonz69, on 23 July 2017 - 12:25 AM, said:

Anybody have any luck getting on the old course in the late afternoon? Gonna be there August 14.

We just got back and were able to get on the old course both times we tried. We did not get selected in the ballot, but got on off the wait list. The earlier you get your name on the list the better

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#20 spud3

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 01:08 PM

Thanks for the info!

"take that, you miserable
little white swine!"

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#21 Gem

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 01:19 PM

View PostHawkeye77, on 02 July 2017 - 07:01 AM, said:

Very cool, thanks!

We are planning north then finish off with a few days in St. Andrews, but staying in Dornoch or Tain for an extended period. Dornoch, Cruden Bay (may have to play on the way to St. Andrews), Brora are on our list.  For ease of travel, looking also at Cullen, Tain, Moray, Boat of Garten, maybe some little 9 holers if we can find them.

Will definitely check out some of your other ideas, fun to plan.


You should definitely try to stop off at Moray Old. My favourite course here in Scotland.

Nice listings TheInfidel.
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#22 North Butte

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 01:29 PM

View PostArgonne69, on 25 July 2017 - 10:30 AM, said:

Are all the courses listed open to the public, i.e. don't require a club pro to call? Do any require an on-site stay, or can you lodge elsewhere? Also, do all allow singles to book, or do singles have to come out and hope to get on?

I'm considering a solo trip, and booking/playing as a single always involves more challenges than it should.

That whole "club pro call" deal is more of a USA thing. Almost every private club in Scotland allows visitor play, although it may be restricted to only certain days and times. The Old Course has its own unique access procedures and a few clubs like Muirfield are somewhat restrictive. But most clubs have either online booking per se through their web site or they have information on their web site about how to contact them via E-mail and/or telephone to arrange tee times. You can handle it all before leaving home with at worst a couple of international phone calls. Best to make your plans quite a few months in advance, though.

Other than the Old Course, the biggest problem is playing at weekends. Many private clubs do not allow weekend visitor play at all. The St. Andrews Links Trust courses and some of the other resort-type places (like Turnberry) will be less of a problem but the weekends will still be hardest to book.

P.S. Outside of (once again) the Old Course and Muirfield, most other places will not make a big deal out of the single booking.

Edited by North Butte, 25 July 2017 - 01:30 PM.

Everything has its drawbacks, as the man said when his mother-in-law died, and they came down upon him for the funeral expenses.

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#23 Lefty28

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 01:49 PM

Just got back from Scotland a couple weeks ago. We had an amazing lineup. In order, we played Castle Stuart, Royal Dornoch, Cruden Bay, Royal Aberdeen, Carnoustie, Muirfield, Kingsbarns, and St. Andrews Old. If I ever go again, I'll probably stick to the courses in Inverness. They were my favorite (other than Muirfield). You can't skip Royal Dornoch no matter what in my opinion.

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#24 TheInfidel

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 05:15 AM

View PostLefty28, on 25 July 2017 - 01:49 PM, said:

Just got back from Scotland a couple weeks ago. We had an amazing lineup. In order, we played Castle Stuart, Royal Dornoch, Cruden Bay, Royal Aberdeen, Carnoustie, Muirfield, Kingsbarns, and St. Andrews Old. If I ever go again, I'll probably stick to the courses in Inverness. They were my favorite (other than Muirfield). You can't skip Royal Dornoch no matter what in my opinion.

You've ticked alot of great boxes here.  If you were to head back to the Inverness area you should try and aim for Skibo, Tain and Brora.  Fraserburgh is also a great track but isn't as close to the Inverness Area.
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#25 RSK7070

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 09:52 PM

Great recommendations and tips in the thread already!

I won a lottery spot to play St. Andrews Old and the Castle course in April 2018 as a single. Talking to some friends and judging from tips on the forum, I'm looking to get out at Kingsbarn, Crail, and Carnoustie in addition to the two rounds at St. Andrews. Any tips for a single at those courses? Will Carnoustie be ground under repair in April with the Open there this year? Is it worth 200 pounds?

I have a budget in mind, but I'm still working on pricing out airfare, lodging, etc.. Does anyone have some tips for less expensive courses in the area? I value a good test of golf with scenery more than the name.

Thanks


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#26 AuldPLO Swiss Golftrotter

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Posted 05 January 2018 - 03:09 AM

View PostRSK7070, on 04 January 2018 - 09:52 PM, said:

Will Carnoustie be ground under repair in April with the Open there this year? Is it worth 200 pounds?

I played the Old Course one month before The Open in 2005 and there were only a very few GUR in place at this time. I'm sure Carnoustie will be great in April. Great challenging track !!

Edited by AuldPLO Swiss Golftrotter, 05 January 2018 - 03:11 AM.

From the breathtaking cliffs of Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand to the idyllic coastal scenery of Mauritius, from the desolate landscapes of Wolf Creek in the US to the legend of St Andrews in Scotland, find my golfing and photographic journey through nineteen countries on all continents :

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#27 davep043

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Posted 05 January 2018 - 08:38 AM

View PostRSK7070, on 04 January 2018 - 09:52 PM, said:

Great recommendations and tips in the thread already!

I won a lottery spot to play St. Andrews Old and the Castle course in April 2018 as a single. Talking to some friends and judging from tips on the forum, I'm looking to get out at Kingsbarn, Crail, and Carnoustie in addition to the two rounds at St. Andrews. Any tips for a single at those courses? Will Carnoustie be ground under repair in April with the Open there this year? Is it worth 200 pounds?

I have a budget in mind, but I'm still working on pricing out airfare, lodging, etc.. Does anyone have some tips for less expensive courses in the area? I value a good test of golf with scenery more than the name.

Thanks
First, congratulations, you'll love St Andrews!.  For reasonably priced lodging, I'd suggest the B&Bs in Murray Park or Murray Place, there must be close to 20.  I've stayed at Burness House(http://www.burnesshouse.com/) and next door at Craigmore House (http://www.standrews...o.uk/standrews/).  Both were just fine, I preferred the Burness House.  For nearby courses, I liked Elie, Lundin Links, and Panmure, and I know there are a few more good choices.  A good resource for the single golfer is www.golfnook.com.  My favorite pub in town was NOT the Dunvegan, too many American golfers there, I get that at home.  Try the Whey Pat (http://www.wheypat-standrews.co.uk/)

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#28 Gem

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Posted 05 January 2018 - 02:29 PM

View PostRSK7070, on 04 January 2018 - 09:52 PM, said:

Great recommendations and tips in the thread already!

I won a lottery spot to play St. Andrews Old and the Castle course in April 2018 as a single. Talking to some friends and judging from tips on the forum, I'm looking to get out at Kingsbarn, Crail, and Carnoustie in addition to the two rounds at St. Andrews. Any tips for a single at those courses? Will Carnoustie be ground under repair in April with the Open there this year? Is it worth 200 pounds?

I have a budget in mind, but I'm still working on pricing out airfare, lodging, etc.. Does anyone have some tips for less expensive courses in the area? I value a good test of golf with scenery more than the name.

Thanks

Carnoustie and Kingsbarnes are both fantastic. They are expensive and I have never paid more than £100 myself for golf but if you are visiting Scotland and not sure when you might return then you might not get many other chances to play them so probably worth paying a bit extra.

I just don't like Crail myself. Some love it but I have never seen the attraction.
Scotscraig or ladybank are better and really nice heathland type of courses.
Monifieth and Montrose are nice and not far away from Carnoustie.
Panmure is well liked also but wasn't one I took to but then I played poorly when there and this can sometimes make a difference.

Hope you have a great trip.
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#29 Mitch Jordan

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 09:45 AM

View PostRSK7070, on 04 January 2018 - 09:52 PM, said:

Great recommendations and tips in the thread already!

I won a lottery spot to play St. Andrews Old and the Castle course in April 2018 as a single. Talking to some friends and judging from tips on the forum, I'm looking to get out at Kingsbarn, Crail, and Carnoustie in addition to the two rounds at St. Andrews. Any tips for a single at those courses? Will Carnoustie be ground under repair in April with the Open there this year? Is it worth 200 pounds?

I have a budget in mind, but I'm still working on pricing out airfare, lodging, etc.. Does anyone have some tips for less expensive courses in the area? I value a good test of golf with scenery more than the name.

Thanks

View PostRSK7070, on 04 January 2018 - 09:52 PM, said:

Great recommendations and tips in the thread already!

I won a lottery spot to play St. Andrews Old and the Castle course in April 2018 as a single. Talking to some friends and judging from tips on the forum, I'm looking to get out at Kingsbarn, Crail, and Carnoustie in addition to the two rounds at St. Andrews. Any tips for a single at those courses? Will Carnoustie be ground under repair in April with the Open there this year? Is it worth 200 pounds?

I have a budget in mind, but I'm still working on pricing out airfare, lodging, etc.. Does anyone have some tips for less expensive courses in the area? I value a good test of golf with scenery more than the name.

Thanks

View PostRSK7070, on 04 January 2018 - 09:52 PM, said:

Great recommendations and tips in the thread already!

I won a lottery spot to play St. Andrews Old and the Castle course in April 2018 as a single. Talking to some friends and judging from tips on the forum, I'm looking to get out at Kingsbarn, Crail, and Carnoustie in addition to the two rounds at St. Andrews. Any tips for a single at those courses? Will Carnoustie be ground under repair in April with the Open there this year? Is it worth 200 pounds?

I have a budget in mind, but I'm still working on pricing out airfare, lodging, etc.. Does anyone have some tips for less expensive courses in the area? I value a good test of golf with scenery more than the name.

Thanks


29

#30 Mitch Jordan

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 09:49 AM

I played Carnoustie several weeks before the Senior Open in 2010.  At that time portions of the fairways were roped off. If your ball landed there you moved it to the edge of the rough and played from there.  Caddy explained that it was being done so landing areas for the pros wouldn't get torn up.  Don't know if that would be in use in April or not.  Enjoy yourself.


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