EmperorPenguin, on 09 January 2018 - 11:24 AM, said:
OK, boys, I decided to splurge. Next year I turn 50, and after twenty-three years of saving, investing and planning I have sustained a high net worth. I realize that I can't take it with me when I die, so I decided to host three of my best friends for a week-long trip to Scotland during the US Open week of 2019, where it will be played at Pebble Beach. While the world's best golfers will duke it out at the Links, my buddies and I will duke it out in Scotland for a week of fun.
I invited each of them in private and they were all excited of the opportunity. The terms are simple: I pay for plane tickets, accommodations, greens fees and caddie fees; they just pay for food and drink for everyone in the group, including myself, so I eat for free. They all said yes, but at the beginning of next year when I book the plane tickets I will formally ask each one for final confirmation, given that lives change over time.
Here is where I need your help. I only have a vague idea of what to do. I have never been to Scotland before, so I am a newbie of visiting the home of golf. I heard that you can book the Old Course a year in advance, and most people do. That is why I am starting this thread so far in advance. I rely on your wisdom and knowledge of what to do, and any ideas in this thread will be greatly appreciated and considered.
The first issue is deciding on which courses to play. The plan is to play only one course per day; I don't believe in jamming in as many courses as possible, playing 36 holes each day. This will be about a week-long trip, so the plan for now is to play at least seven courses, maybe eight or nine if I am convinced. Certainly The Old Course at St. Andrews I want to play. The other courses I want to play, given what I've read here so far, will be Kingsbarns, Dornoch, Kingsbarns, Prestwick, Turnberry, Cruden Bay, and maybe take a short flight and play Royal County Down. If you only had a week or so to play in Scotland, and only one course per day, which seven or eight courses would you play?
The major considerations of this magnificent trip are logistics and accommodations. I understand that there are businesses that can arrange all that for a fee, but I wonder if those guys tend to gouge. Is is worthwhile to engage these businesses? I think it will be a good idea to select a central location so we will not travel far to each course. Maybe Edinburgh?
The final and most important consideration is budget. The figure I am willing to spend on this trip is $40,000, which I reckon should be more than enough--will it be? Remember that my hosts will cover food and drink, and I pay for everything else. I have never been to a B&B before, so I would prefer a good hotel for us all. The plan for now is to play golf in the late morning or early afternoon, have a few drinks, and watch the US Open at Pebble Beach either at the local pub or back in our room. I am looking for a three-bedroom suite for us to stay in.
So let's start this thread with some good ideas and recommendations. Thank you in advance for your recommendations and ideas.
I've been lucky enough over the last 10 years to have planned and been on many golfing trips to Scotland and Ireland. I have done both the self-drive/self-planned/B&B and Driver/High end hotels/Travel Company trips. I personnally prefer driving and booking by myself, and feel more at home in B&Bs than hotels, but I can understand those who prefer otherwise. I have also done all of the ''clusters'' in both places. Here is my two cents, for what it's worth.
If you're planning on a 7 day trip and you've never been to the UK before, get a driver. With your budget, it won't be a problem.
Any ''trip of a lifetime'' to Scotland should be planned around playing the Old Course, there is just no two ways about. From there, you can either stay in St-Andrews or pick a second region for the other half of your trip. I would recommend the second option.
As far as the other golfing regions, there are three worth considering. Here's a rundown of what I believe to be the must play courses and interesting add-on courses:
East Lothian / Edinburgh
- Must Play: Muirfield, North Berwick - Add-ons: Gullane #1
- Must Play: Turnberry, Prestwick - Add-ons: Machrihanish, Western Gailes, Royal Troon
- Must Play: Royal Dornoch, Castle Stuart - Add-ons: Nairn, Brora, Tain
As far as St-Andrews is concerned, while there are plenty of high quality courses in the area, appart from the Old Course, the only must play from the kind of trip you're looking at is Kingsbarns. You could drive a few hours north to Carnoustie, but personnally, I would spend that time somewhere else.
Here is an itinerary I would suggest (based on a 7 day stay in Scotland, meaning travelling would take place outside those seven days).
- Arrive in Edinburgh
- Head East to Lothian (very short drive). Stay at the Greywalls and play both Muirfield and North Berwick over 2 days.
- Make an evening drive to Dornoch, stay there for 2 nights (Royal Golf Hotel or Links House) and play Royal Dornoch on the first day, Castle Stuart on the second, then head down to St-Andrews.
- Spend the last 3 nights in St-Andrews (Old Course Hotel), play Kingsbarns and the Old Course, add-in the New Course if you feel like it.
- Leave Scotland
You could go to St-Andrews second and finish with Inverness, but I always thought playing the last round of your trip on the Old Course made everything a little more special. First, you'll have had a whole week getting used to Links golf and second, the whole trip will feel like a crescendo building up to that first tee shot in front of the R&A.
While covering those three regions will mean more driving than sticking only to two as conventional wisdom would argue, I believe covering those three places will insure you play some of the best courses Scotland has to offer. By getting a driver and a nice comfy coach bus, you can have drinks and play cards with you buddies while the driver is taking you around.
While your there, make sure to add a distillery visit. Glenmorangie would probably be the best option based on the itinerary I suggested. Also, if you can manage to spend an evening in Edinburgh, I strongly suggest it.
If you have any questions, just PM me and I'll be happy to help.