Maureen Jones, president, All Horizons Travel, recently spent time at the Scottish Travel Expo, visiting with golf course executives and the Visit Scotland team. Here is her report.
I attended the Scottish Travel Expo recently to learn the best way to book golf.
Good tips for you to know:
- Each September, you can fill out an application (with a 400 pound fee) for a time and date the following year. Two days hours before the selected date, a lottery takes place—and with 40,000 applications, forget it! Hotels cannot get you tee times. Visit Scotland (the new name for the Scottish Tourism Board) put me in touch with four Scottish companies who know how to work the system (and these are the only ones they recommend): Platinum Golf Scotland, Drumgolf, J.D.Scott Golf Tours, and Golf Holidays. I have met with everyone in the golf industry and I will be using Stuart French, who offers a 20 percent commission.
- You need a handicap certificate as well as a letter from your golf club to play St. Andrews Old Course.
- You must book a package to get on, probably in the region of 2,200 pounds per person. The package will usually include three nights' accommodation and three rounds of golf, one on the Old Course, one on Dukes and one on another course. Price varies according to time of year.
- No golf carts are allowed, and you cant pull your clubs before 1.p.m.; you will have to hire a Scots caddy at 50 pounds (plus tip, of course).
- You move every four minutes from the green, and slow players are asked to leave the course. (Marshals enforce this.) You must play 18 holes in under four hours.
There are 550 courses in Scotland. Top courses are Royal Dornoch, Carnoustie, Gleneagles, Royal Troon, Turnberry, Skibo, Muirefield, Kingsbarns and Machrihanish. The golf company can book all courses for you, plus hotels and sightseeing if the spouse is not a golfer. There are also some Ryder Cup packages available. These tours are good for groups or FIT trips. Book early! Next year is big for Scotland, with the Ryder Cup, Commonweath Games, and Homecoming all taking place over the course of 12 months.