How to Plan a Golf Trip to Scotland

Graylyn LoomisScottish Golf Travel6 Comments

This article is the first in a series about maximizing your time and money in planning, booking, and experiencing a golf trip to Scotland! The second article is Where to Go on a Golf Trip to Scotland!

The key to planning a successful golf trip to Scotland is knowledge. One of the goals of this website is to provide golfers with the knowledge necessary for planning their own trip. Whether they book the trip through a tour company, use the Scottish golf trip consulting option, or simply built their trip by themselves, I hope everyone finds this site useful in the process!

This article is a quick look at the topics you will need to address in order to have a successful golf trip. I provide tips that I picked up while living for four years in St Andrews and I’ve thrown in links to other useful sites along the way! Email in any questions to graylyn@graylynloomis.com

First Things First

Tour company or plan it yourself?
This question can be answered by the amount of free time you have and the size of your budget. In most cases you provide basic information to the companies and they return with an estimate for the trip. Keep in mind you are paying a premium with this option. Tour companies can also be a good way to snag guaranteed tee times on the Old Course, but that is where things start to get pricey. Tour companies can be pricey, but they offer a very easy way to book your trip.

Golfers that don’t have the time to plan out an entire trip but want a customized itinerary should think about newer options like the golf trip consulting option on this site. You fill out a questionnaire and I provide an itinerary custom tailored to your interests both on and off the course that is extremely easy to book yourself.

Planning and booking a trip completely by yourself is a great option for those with time and some patience to do the research. There are some great resources out there to help, including this site and those listed under “Resources” below!

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Setting your budget

Your budget is largely a personal choice, but there are great ways to maximize the money you plan on spending. Choosing a B&B over a pricier hotel, setting up base in one area and making day trips from there, or splitting some of the fixed costs among a larger group are all great methods for saving money. I talked about this topic at length with Ru from the Scottish Golf Travel Podcast, and that podcast episode can be found here.

Is it worth taking a caddie?
I have written an article on taking caddies that can be found here. In summary, a caddie can add greatly to a round of golf on a course you have never seen. That is especially true on some Scottish links with lots of blind shots. If caddies aren’t in the budget, consider splitting a forecaddie within the group – you get much of the advice at a fraction of the cost.

Choosing where to go

I plan to expand on this topic in the second article in this series. A quick preview is that I highly recommend basing yourself in one or two regions for the trip. Playing all over the country is exhausting, expensive, and doesn’t maximize your time.

I go into the various regions, driving times, and their golf offerings in Where to Go on a Golf Trip to Scotland!

Where to stay

B&Bs, hotels, or home rental?
Again, this comes down to budget in many cases. I prefer staying in B&Bs because you feel much more attached to the community. The proprietors are almost always friendly locals who can offer great advice and tips about the area. They are also almost always less expensive than a chain hotel. The included Scottish fry-up breakfast you’ll receive at most B&Bs is worth its weight in gold!

Home rental can initially seem like an expensive option, but if you’re traveling as a foursome or larger, it can actually be very cost effective. Splitting a £1000/week home between four golfers is a lot easier on the wallet than a week in a £150/night B&B or hotel. Your choice will largely depend on whether you want to travel or base yourself in one area.

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Transportation

An important consideration on your trip is transportation. If you are a twosome, threesome, or even a skinny foursome, renting a car is a viable option. Keep in mind you’ll need a driver who is comfortable driving on the left side of the road in what will likely be a manual car. Also be sure to request a large rental car. If you find yourself in a typical European car it will be extremely difficult to fit all of your bags and clubs, let alone the golfers. Also, take note of the drunk driving mention below.

For larger groups, a transportation service or driver can be incredibly nice. Everyone can relax, have a pint after the round, and not have to stress about navigating in a new country or avoiding drunk driving laws (a single beer puts you at or just over the limit in Scotland). The cost of this option when split among a larger group can make a lot of sense.

Another way to avoid driving yourself is public transportation. It’s not the easiest or most convenient option, but it is relaxing, scenic, and is how I traveled Scotland during my four years in St Andrews. If you want to look into train travel, I suggest visiting Scottish Golf By Train to help sort everything out.

Getting Tee Times

Getting tee times at most courses isn’t a problem, given you’re booking enough time in advance. Other courses like Muirfield and Renaissance Club have limited guest play, so you’ll want to get on those really early. The Old Course is a different tee time beast, and I’ve written an entire article on that here.

If you know you’ll want to play a course twice, it is worth asking about their replay rate. Some courses offer great deals if you play again that day or even within that week. One example is the very pricey Kingsbarns Golf Links that offers 50% off if you play again within one week of that first round.

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Valuable Resources

Scottish Golf Travel Podcast (a great site and podcast dedicated to Scottish golf travel)
Visit St Andrews (perfect for local tips and recommendations)
Scottish Golf Trip Planner (a section of my site dedicated to planning your own trip)
Scottish Course Reviews (my large database of Scottish course reviews)

If you have any questions and would like advice about your trip, I am always happy to chat golf! Just drop me an email at graylyn@graylynloomis.com

6 Comments on “How to Plan a Golf Trip to Scotland”

    1. Graylyn Loomis

      Hi RJ, a lot depends on where you are flying from in the States (assuming you are in the States). My best tip is to look at fare comparison sites like Kayak, Skyscanner, Expedia. If you want to branch out from there and try to go cheaper, check some of the European airlines like Aer Lingus, which often offer better rates, but include connecting through Dublin.

      Another tip is to vary the time of year you’re looking, as rates change depending on season. I wish I had a knockout tip up my sleeve, but it’s a frustrating battle against the airlines. Hopefully this helps!

  1. Sara P.

    Hi!
    I am planning a surprise trip for my husband to go with his father this upcoming March (first or second week). Is that too soon to book any tee times/lodging? Also, is it usually way too cold for it to be enjoyable?

    Thanks!

    1. Graylyn Loomis

      Hi Sarah, thank you for the comment! What a good gift to give to your husband and father-in-law.

      March can be pretty darn chilly. If you think they would be okay putting on hats, gloves, and layering up with warm clothing, it is possible! The other negatives are the potential for frost delays in the mornings and some courses may have “winter greens,” meaning that they have made a small secondary green short of the actual green to protect it during the winter. If possible, I would look into April. April will be warmer and pretty much every course will be off its winter program.

      With either month, I would suggest that you go ahead and book things now. Those aren’t the busy months, so you should be able to book things just fine! My email address is graylyn@graylynloomis.com, so feel free to shoot any other questions there. Thanks!

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