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How to put a great golf trip together to Scotland or Ireland!

How to put a great golf trip together to Scotland or Ireland!

How to put a great golf trip together to Scotland or Ireland!
 
Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the golfchats.com website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!
 
If you are thinking of putting together a golf trip to Scotland or Ireland,   Guy Proddow of GolfWrx has some excellent ideas to help.  Knowing these insights can turn a bland golf trip into a great golf trip!  I have hosted several excursions to both countries, and I can say they have all been memorable!  July and August are the best times weather-wise, but even then, you can get rained out.  At least in those months, it’s warm rain!  Layering is key!  I always take the minimum of clothing over there.  So if it gets rainy or cold, it gives me the excuse to buy some logoed sweaters or windbreakers!
Having organized countless golf trips in the past for both customers and friends, I can safely say we’ve gained considerable experience at Golfbreaks.com in putting together tours of the British Isles… and it’s about time that we passed some of this knowledge on to you. GolfWRX asked us for our “tips for tour,” so we put pen to paper. Being blessed with incredible courses on this side of the pond, it’s always a pleasure to share the advice.

Here are 9 tips to plan the perfect golf vacation to the UK and Ireland.

1. Plan Your Dates in Advance

How to put a great golf trip together to Scotland or Ireland!

Ardglass – County Down.

When you consider our famously unpredictable weather, it’s key to get the dates of your trip right.  Particularly if your vacation is to Ireland or the West Coast of Britain. The best conditions are usually between mid-May and mid-September, although April and October have also been known to also deliver the perfect setting for golf.

If you were to come in the Spring or Fall, the main advantage would be the big savings on green fees and accommodation, but there is always the chance of being caught out in a strong coastal breeze.

2. Choose Your Group (…wisely)

How to put a great golf trip together to Scotland or Ireland!

Group with caddies at Kingsbarns, Scotland

If you’re considering the possibility of taking a vacation across the pond, you’ll probably have a core group of buddies who are interested in coming along for the ride. With some perhaps undecided it’s a priority to ensure that you get a guaranteed commitment from them.  Anyone dropping out can cause logistical nightmares and lose you money from advance payments.

Therefore, always aim to get a deposit from your potential group members.  Which will in turn tie them to the trip.

We’d also recommend that you choose your group wisely. Are these the kind of guys and gals you would be willing to spend all day and night with over an extended period?

Remember, you’ve got to put up with their on-course quirks and ensure that they won’t fall off the planet after their sixth pint of Guinness! This is a dream trip, one you’ve been putting together over months, so you want to bring your first team along.

3. Set Your Budget (…and stick to it)

How to put a great golf trip together to Scotland or Ireland!

A Budget is meant to be just that! Don’t change it!

Before you start planning which courses you want to play, it’s always wise to agree a budget with the group beforehand, which makes decision making and planning easier. The more prestigious venues are typically more expensive — and you will be tempted to blow your budget — so make sure you set and stick to your limit in advance, which will simplify the process of deciding which courses to play.

If you’ve set a tighter budget, we suggest that you play one or two of the biggest names (such as Carnoustie or Turnberry in Scotland), but then compliment your trip with some more of the lesser known courses, which are often just as good (if not better).

Base your vacation around those must-play classics you’ve identified, and the rest can then be selected through some research, which Golfbreaks.com can help with if you’re unsure.

Additionally, it’s worth remembering that your budget also helps to define what accommodation you can afford. Choosing a modest 2-3-star hotel will allow you to spend more on the golf itself. The key, as always, is making sure that everyone in the group is in agreement on the budget and subsequently where you play and sleep!

To see the rest of the 9 tips to plan your golfing trip to Scotland or Ireland, go here!

Source: Guy Proddow   GolfWrx

Pictures: Dooks Golf Links  Ardglass County Down  Kingsbarns

Thanks for reading – How to put a great golf trip together to Scotland or Ireland!

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How to get a tee time at the Old Course at St. Andrews!

How to get a tee time at the Old Course at St. Andrews!

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the golfchats.com website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

Snagging a tee time on the Old Course at St. Andrews takes a little bit of savvy and a little bit of luck.  

There are tricks of the trade that can get you on without paying $3500 for the “St. Andrews Golf Experience” package.  Brandon Tucker, Managing Editor of golfadvisor.com, gives you several far easier ways!  Read on!

If you’ve ever put a tee in the ground, you’ve no doubt thought about what it would be like to play a round in the birthplace of golf: St. Andrews, Scotland.

How to get a tee time at the Old Course at St. Andrews!

Your summer golf vacation could include a round on the Old Course at St. Andrews.

A common misconception of the famed Old Course at St. Andrews is that it’s an exclusive, private club like Augusta National. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

While it’s true that green fees at St. Andrews — and all of Scotland — have skyrocketed over the past 30 years, the Old Course is open to the public on most days. For a round, it costs about the same as your normal PGA Tour venue open to the public. Depending on the exchange rate, the 2014 green fee to play the Old Course is 160 pounds, which is about $260.

So how can I make a tee time on the Old Course at St. Andrews?

There are numerous ways to play the Old Course that vary in convenience and price.

The easiest option — and most expensive — is to book a golf package with a guaranteed tee time. These packages, which are a three-night minimum, are highly coveted assets, and the price to get one is steep. The Old Course Experience is the sole provider (but it does sell some of its inventory to other golf packagers). These packages start at around 2,000 pounds per person for three rounds/three nights in the summer.

The smarter way to get a guaranteed tee time at the posted green fee rate for that season is to write or email the St. Andrews Links Trust (www.StAndrews.org.uk). Each fall, the Trust holds an open period to accept group-booking requests. The more golfers you have in your group, the tougher it will be to accommodate everyone, but this is a surefire way for smaller groups that can commit to a date well in advance. Tour operators can help you submit these requests if you’d like to use one for your trip.

But you don’t have to plan well in advance — or shell out more money as part of a golf package — if you’re willing to gamble a little.

The Old Course holds a tee-sheet ballot every day the course is open to the public, and golfers (minimum of two) can enter the drawing, which is announced two days prior to play (so Wednesday tee times are announced Monday afternoon). Now, if you have a group of more than four, be prepared to split up or risk some of you not getting a time. You can enter the ballot at the Links Trust website. Results are posted at 4:30 p.m. every day.

So if you stay three or four days in St. Andrews, plan on entering the lottery for every day you are there, but book some “safety” tee times at nearby courses. These clubs know about the Old’s ballot policy, and just about all of them are happy to give you a rain check should you earn a ballot spot the day you’re supposed to play their course (just mention your plans to do so when booking with the course). Many clubs now offer online tee times as well so you can make last-minute arrangements.

The last option, if all else fails or if you’re a single, is to walk on. You’ll want to head to the starter’s shed at the crack of dawn and give your name to the starter, who will put you on the list and pair you with any incomplete groups. Keep your fingers crossed for no-shows.

The Unlimited Golf ticket at St. Andrews

This is a game changer for St. Andrews golfers. Recently, the Links Trust began selling an “unlimited golf” ticket for three (£200) and seven (£400) days. Good for each of the courses except the Old, you can set up tee times in advance for your morning round at any course and then have space-available replays in the afternoon. This is especially ideal for those willing to enter the Old Course Lottery during their stay in St. Andrews.

Check out some more tips on how to play St. Andrews here!

Source: Brandon Tucker/GolfAdvisor

Pictures: Brandon Tucker/GolfAdvisor

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Who has the title - World's Toughest Golf Course Critic?

Who has the title – World’s Toughest Golf Course Critic?

Who has the title – World’s Toughest Golf Course Critic?

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the golfchats.com website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

He’s got all the finesse of Bill Belichick!

Tom Doak is a renowned golf course architect who has created masterpieces like Cape Kidnappers and Pacific Dunes. Doak is also known for being fearless in his assessment of the world’s most famous courses.

Doak has recently produced an update of his 1988 book entitled ‘The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses.’ He and three other expert design critics have compiled grades and comments for more than 2,500 courses world-wide in a five-volume series of books.

Believe me, you will be entertained, as I am, by this man’s brutal honesty in assessing some of the so-called ‘best golf courses in the world.’

Doak is American, but indicates in his book that it’s challenging to find any bad courses in Great Britain and Ireland “… because Great Britain and Ireland have largely avoided the monstrous displays of earth-moving muscle foisted upon the earth by golf architects in American and, especially Asia.” Ouch!

Thanks to Joe Passov, for GOLF Magazine,  for providing this story on the world’s toughest golf course critic!

 

Who is the World's Toughest Golf Course Critic?

Machrihanish GC. Tom Doak rates this as the best opening hole in golf! Case closed.

Imagine if Bill Belichick offered candid reviews of every NFL team — and of each team’s head coach. That’s effectively what Tom Doak has done with course designs and their architects in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, Volume 1: Great Britain and Ireland, a fresh update of his classic book, first published in 1988. Doak is among the most revered architects in the game, authoring Pacific Dunes, Cape Kidnappers and Streamsong (Blue), among other modern classics. He’s also design’s most candid critic, and his reviews are catnip to course connoisseurs.

This updated guide adds grades and comments for an additional 1,700 courses, bringing the total to more than 2,500 courses reviewed in a total of five volumes.

To assist in assessing the additional courses, Doak enlisted the aid of three other expert design critics — Ran Morrissett of the United States, Masa Nishijima of Japan and Darius Oliver of Australia. The four other volumes will be released over the next year or two and will span the globe, including the U.S., the Caribbean and the Far East. “Volume 1 will be the least controversial of the set,” Doak writes in the introduction, “because Great Britain and Ireland have largely avoided the monstrous displays of earthmoving muscle foisted upon the earth by golf architects in America and, especially, Asia. If there are bad courses in Britain and Ireland, we haven’t found many of them — though perhaps we’ve been smart enough to avoid a few.”

Still, Doak pulls no punches, as evidenced by the “O” grade he leveled at St. Andrews’s Castle Course in Scotland, a David McLay Kidd design. This first volume educates, entertains and engages. Whether you agree or disagree with his assessments, you’ll benefit by having them at your fingertips. Here are some of Doak’s sharpest insights on the best (and the rest) in Great Britain and Ireland.

To Read Tom Doak’s assessment of some of Scotland and Ireland’s top courses, go here.

Source: GOLF.com   Joe Passov

Pictures: Evan Wilson    easylocum

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This New Law Could Have a Huge Effect on Scotland Golf Vacations!

This New Law Could Have a Huge Effect on Scotland Golf Vacations!

This New Law Could Have a Huge Effect on Scotland Golf Vacations!

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the golfchats.com website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

I have been taking Scotland golf vacations with a group of students for the past 20 years. 

We have always taken a bus and driver so that we do not have to worry about drinking and driving.

Click here to see Mel Sole’s golf trip itinerary to Scotland, Ireland, and South Africa.

If you are just two or three in your group and are doing a self-drive tour, you might have to choose a designated driver each day.  Not fun, but necessary.

Tim Gavrich of golfvacationinsider is here to break the sad news to us!

When I heard about this the other day, I was absolutely shocked.

A new law took effect in January 1 of this year that will have a pretty significant effect on anyone looking to take a golf vacation in Scotland.

Let’s just say Scotland is getting drier, but not for the reason you’d hope…

This New Law Could Have a Huge Effect on Scotland Golf Vacations!

Pub on The Royal Mile in Edinburgh!

Here’s the deal: effective January 1, 2015, Scotland’s government lowered the legal blood-alcohol limit while driving from .08 to .05.

In many cases, an average-sized man’s blood-alcohol content would reach that point after just a single pint of beer — even less, in fact.

Scotland golf trip? New law could put you “over-the-limit” with just 1 drink

This New Law Could Have a Huge Effect on Scotland Golf Vacations!

Part of what has made Scotland one of the best places in the world to play golf is that it is customary to enjoy a couple post-round pints of beer and/or tipples of scotch in one of the many pubs that dot the towns near its courses. We have especially cherished hearing some hilarious stories from locals–fellow golfers and caddies alike–in such establishments.

But now, if you are part of a group and have rented a car, there’s pretty much no way to avoid having to have a 100% sober driver each night. And while that’s good practice in general, it adds a bit of stress to what should be a relaxing experience.

The region’s pubs have taken as much as a 60% hit in the two months since the new drunk-driving regulations have been in effect, according to a report in the Scottish Express newspaper.

That means that pretty soon, not only will you have to drink less than you otherwise might in Scotland, you’ll probably pay more for the privilege! After all, pub proprietors will need to recoup their losses somehow.

This New Law Could Have a Huge Effect on Scotland Golf Vacations!

According to police and other advocates of this law, no fewer than 20 people die and 90 more are seriously injured each year in car accidents involving drunk drivers in Scotland.

The hope among the law’s proponents is that those numbers will decline in the future.

Note: If this is a Scotland golf trip-breaker for you, keep in mind that the legal limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland remains at .08, at least for now. It’s understandable to expect this law to have a ripple effect, though. Stay tuned.

For tourists (especially Americans), this could make driving Scotland’s notoriously narrow and winding roads an even dicier proposition than it used to be. Even before this law change, we’ve heard stories about 100% sober drivers getting mistakenly pulled over by police while getting acclimated to driving on the “wrong side” of the road/car.

Now, if you’ve had even a single pint, you could be in real trouble.

If you haven’t already guessed, this new law should persuade you to think even more seriously about hiring a driver for your group’s next Scotland excursion. We recommend it, particularly if your trip will take you to a few towns and cities.

A number of travel agencies will be happy to arrange this for you, and if you need any recommendations, just email editor@golfvacationinsider.com.

What do you think of this change in Scotland’s laws? As always, please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

Source: GolfVacationInsider    Tim Gavrich

Pictures: golfvacationinsider.com     Craig Howell

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6 Things you need to know on your first trip to Scotland or Ireland.

6 Things you need to know on your first trip to Scotland or Ireland.

6 Things you need to know on your first trip to Scotland or Ireland.

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the golfchats.com website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

One of my year’s highlights is that in August of each year, I organize a group trip to either Scotland, Ireland, or South Africa.

I recently took a group to Scotland, and for all of them, it was their first trip over.   Although they all said it was a trip of a lifetime, most of them said what Craig Better from golfvacationinsider.com has so accurately described below.  I have also found out the hard way, but all obstacles can be overcome if you plan ahead.

6 Things you need to know on your first trip to Scotland or Ireland.

18th hole and clubhouse St Andrews Old Course

Have you ever taken a golf trip “across the pond?” Do you remember “discovering” some things you wish you would have known in advance? I certainly do, and to this day, I’m shocked that nobody told me these important details…

6 Things you need to know on your first trip to Scotland or Ireland.

Jet Lag.

Most flights from North America are overnighters, during which you get little sleep (but sometimes lots of alcohol), so when you step off the plane early the next morning, your every instinct is to put your head in a bed. Advice I’d give a first timer: Don’t do it. Instead, take the latest flight you can and do whatever possible to sleep on the plane. But even if you can’t, just land then go play golf. The faster you get on local time, the better.

Rental Cars.

Again, while sleep deprived and bleary eyed, you’ll be expected to drive a stick-shift vehicle on the opposite side of the road (while sitting on the right-hand side and operating the stick with your left hand). Oh, and if you’re head isn’t already mixed up enough, you’ll usually have to navigate a traffic circle, or “roundabout,” within five minutes. Advice I’d give a first timer: Hire a driver, which is quite common over there. If you insist on driving, at least request an automatic transmission. And, get a mini van (or pack light). The rental cars tend to be quite small for groups with golf clubs.

Practice Facilities.

OK, so you’re less than alert and not ready for golf, but it’s nothing a few range balls can’t fix. Well, that’s a problem, too. While there are a few exceptions, you’re generally not going to find a practice range (or a conveniently located one) at the great, classic links courses in the UK and Ireland. Advice I’d give a first timer: Do some light stretching before you tee off and concentrate on just keeping your ball out of trouble for the first few holes.

6 Things you need to know on your first trip to Scotland or Ireland.

A group with caddies at Kingsbarns, Scotland

To see the other 3 things you need to know when playing Scotland and Ireland for the first time, go here!

Source: Golf Vacation Insider       Craig Better

Pictures: Gregory Stewart

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How to put a great golf trip together to Scotland or Ireland!

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