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The purpose of this section is to illustrate how best to structure a golf vacation in Scotland, playing the leading courses of that country. We select areas that can provide one week (six nights) programs, with five rounds of golf, minimizing the amount of driving and requiring the fewest changes in accommodation. Programs may, of course, be customized to any length of stay desired and may be interconnected with one another for longer stays.
Where to Stay Accommodations in Scotland range from super deluxe resorts such as Gleneagles and Turnberry, to high quality four and five star hotels, quaint inns and guesthouses. We at Owenoak pride ourselves on our knowledge of the full range of accommodation available at the main golfing areas of Scotland.
While the roads in Scotland are reasonably good, driving is on the “wrong” side for Americans, i.e. on the left. For parties of eight or more a small coach with a driver can be well worth the incremental cost. It takes the worry out of finding your way to the courses and allows all participants to enjoy some of Scotland’s famed beverages, while reviewing their rounds in the clubhouse after golf. For those who prefer to drive themselves, we arrange a minivan for each four ball.
West Coast Golf
By “West Coast” we are referring to the coastal area approximately one hour’s drive due south of the city of Glasgow. Turnberry and Royal Troon, currently on the British Open rotation, are probably its best known courses. The area is also home to historic Prestwick Golf Club, founded in 1851 and in 1860 was the site of the first Open ever played and subsequently hosted twenty three more up to its last in 1925. It is a somewhat quirky course but one which is most enjoyable to play. It is a “must” for any true devotee of the history and lore of the game. Western Gailes and Glasgow Gailes round out the five recommended links courses in this area. A range of accommodation, particularly around the Prestwick/Troon area is available but as Turnberry is generally open only to guests at the resort, at least a one stay there is suggested. Golfers planning to play in this area should give serious consideration to Machrihanis located on the Kyntyre Peninsula. It is a four hour drive around the coast to reach and requires a minimum one stay to play the two exceptional courses there. It is thus best tagged on to the end of a West Coast program.
Call us to discuss further at 1-800-426-4498.
St. Andrews Area
It is a popular cliché but nonetheless the truth to call St. Andrews the “Home of Golf”. Apart from being the location of the Old Course, it has the greatest concentration of golf courses to be found in Europe. In addition to the seven courses managed by St. Andrews Links management it also has some very notable courses in its surrounding area such as Crail, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie, the latter currently on The British Open rotation. Knowledge and good planning is absolutely essential to get a tee time on the Old Course and to get the very best out of a golf vacation in St. Andrews. Contact us at 1-800-426-4409 and start the planning process now.
The Scottish Highlands
Typical Scottish Highland Scenery
The Scottish Highlands is the name given to the northern half of the country. As its name implies, it is mostly covered with mountains, intermingled with forests and lakes, and is an area of spectacular natural beauty. It is also the Scotland of lore, legend and myth – single malts, kilts, bagpipes, Bonnie Prince Charles and Brigadoon. The road north from either Edinburgh or Glasgow is worth driving just for the scenery alone. For those in a hurry, it can be reached by air through the principal cities of the Highlands, namely Inverness and Aberdeen. Appropriately, some of the best links courses in the world are strung out along the east coast of the Highlands. Because of their somewhat remote location, these courses don’t get the opportunity of hosting major golfing events such as the Open or the Ryder Cup. But they are fully the equal of the better known courses and also, because of their location, provide a better value golfing vacation. The courses are gathered in two areas. The first are around Inverness and include Brora, Golspie, Royal Dornoch, Castle Stuart, Nairn and Tain. The second are down the coast around the city of Aberdeen. These include Royal Aberdeen, Murcar, Cruden Bay, Montrose and, newly opened in 2012, Trump International Golf Links. The Scottish Highlands can offer a full golf vacation experience on its own or it can be readily tied-in with a stay in the St. Andrews area or indeed the West Coast, south of Glasgow.
While excellent golf courses are to be found in all parts of Ireland, there are four regions which have a concentration of links courses which permits a one week vacation (six nights with five rounds of golf) without changing accommodation base more than once. They are the Southwest, Dublin, Northern Ireland and West Coast. They may, of course, be combined with one another on a longer stay. We are happy to customize any of the vacations we plan.
Waterville Golf Club
The principle links golf courses in Southwest Ireland are Ballybunion; Waterville; and Tralee; south of the River Shannon and Lahinch and Doonbeg, north of the river. A typical one week vacation in the region would be divided between north and south with three nights in each, with Killarney the base for the former and Lahinch or Doonbeg the latter. The Southwest is also the location of Old Head, one of the most scenic and photographed golf courses in the world. This can be played from Killarney (two hour drive each way) or staying at one of the 14 deluxe suites at the course or in the nearby town of Kinsale, a pretty and historic town well known both as a yachting center and for its outstanding restaurants.
Old Head Golf Club
There are two deluxe five star resorts in the Southwest region – Adare Manor and Dromoland castle. The former, the stately home of the earls of Dunraven, is located in Adare, widely considered to be Ireland’s prettiest village, just twelve miles south of the city of Limerick. Adare Manor has a magnificent Robert Trent Jones Sr. parkland course on its grounds and all the courses in the southwest can be played while based there.
Dromoland Castle, once the home of the Lords of Inchiquin, head of the O’Brien clan, was among the first of Ireland’s famed “castle” resorts. It is located near Shannon Airport, north of the river and is an excellent base to play both Doonbeg and Lahinch golf courses. It too has its own championship 18 hole course.
Dublin Street Scene
Dublin is, of course, the capital of Ireland but perhaps surprising, it is an excellent base for some outstanding golf. Within an hour’s drive of the city center are to be found the fine links courses of Portmarnock Golf Club; Portmarnock Links; The Island; Royal Dublin; The European; and County Louth (Baltray). Two parkland courses of particular note are also to be found in the Dublin area. They are Druid’s Glen and the K Club. The former has hosted four Irish Open tournaments (important events of the European PGA Tour) and is sometime called the “Augusta of Ireland”. The K Club is a truly deluxe resort, with two fine Arnold Palmer designed courses, and was the venue for the 2006 Ryder Cup (won by the Europeans). Thus Dublin offers the finest of golf courses while being based entirely in the city and enjoying what this engaging city has to offer.
Royal County Down Golf Club
Northern Ireland has two of the finest links courses in the world – Royal Portrush and Royal County Down. In addition to these renowned courses, also worth playing in Northern Ireland are Ardglass, Portstewart and Ballyliffin, which is across the border in Donegal. Accommodation in two locations is required for a one week golf vacation in Northern Ireland.
West of Ireland
By West of Ireland we mean that part of the country that lays between Galway Bay in the south to Donegal Bay in the north and from the River Shannon west to the Atlantic Ocean. The golf courses of this area are fairly widely spread out, with Connemara; Carne; Inniscrone; County Sligo (Rosses Point); and Donegal (Murvagh) being of the best links courses. Because of their relatively remote location, they tend to have fewer golfers and and thus qualify as “hidden gems”. A golfing vacation in the West of Ireland is less expensive than almost any other area with comparable links courses in the world.
England & Wales
England has probably the finest concentration of golf courses outside the United States, yet it does not generally come to mind when the subject of links golf comes up. Yet it has some of the finest links courses to be found in the world. There are two particular regions of England that should be given serious consideration when planning a golf vacation in the British Isles. They are the Kent Coast in South East England and the Lancashire Coast on the Irish Sea, north of Liverpool.
Leeds Castle, Kent
Kent is what is known as a “Home County” which is the name given to those counties which encircle London but are not within its borders. The courses of the Kent Coast are, in fact, only a two hour’s drive from central London but nonetheless it is recommended that people playing them stay in the area. It is an attractive and historic region and worth visiting in its own right. The best known golf course in the area is Royal St. Georges, which has hosted fourteen British Open golf tournaments, most recently in 2011, which was won by Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland. The other recommended courses, strung out along the coast, are Royal Cinque Ports, Rye, Littlestone and Princes.
This north eastern area of England has some of the finest collection of links golf courses in the world, including three on the current British Open rotation, namely Royal Birkdale; Royal Lytham & St. Annes and Royal Liverpool. There is a whole range of fine links courses in the area such as Formby and Southport & Ainsdale. The entire week is best based at Southport, which now has some excellent accommodation choices.
Royal Porthcawl, Wales
While the Principality of Wales is a part of The United Kingdom, it is a separate country which has maintained its own distinct cultural identity. Geographically, the country lies to the west of England and is surrounded by sea, north, south and west. The entire center of it is mountainous and offers some spectacular scenery. It also has a range of fine links courses around its coast. This allows a visiting golfer to take an almost circular drive starting either in the north or south and driving along the coast playing these courses. There are more than sufficient courses to play in a weeklong vacation.
Let Owenoak help you plan your golf vacation in England or Wales.
We can structure a program for you and advise on the best places to stay.
Call us 1-800-426-4498 or 203-854-9000.