In the fall of 2021, I said to my wife: Wouldn’t it be great if I could play the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland? Why not, was the answer. I then enlightened her that this is not so easy. Tee times for this club are only raffled off for non-members one year in advance and golf travel providers make them pay well…
And then the incredible coincidence came into play: 3 days later I see the invitation of a golf buddy, who has already visited over 500 courses, whether I would not like to play in Scotland? For 1500, – British pounds excl. flight and food. Bed and breakfast and green fees for 6 clubs included. Also included is the complete organization of tee times, shuttle service, a little sightseeing, restaurant reservations and round catering.
Which courses are played?
Of course, I immediately agreed – St. Andrews was not among the 6 clubs, but you could book it additionally. The following courses we should play then:
For me, the Jubilee Course was cancelled because I was supposed to play St. Andrews that day.
But let’s start from the beginning.
The flight to Edinburgh from Frankfurt went almost smoothly – it did take a while to a) get from the parking garage at Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 with all our stuff and b) we were able to take off, as our slot was not available due to a lack of controllers in Scotland.
By the way, we are Christian W and me. We met via Instagram and even play in the same club 🙂 .
Before boarding we met Niko and Christian (2). They also came to this trip via Instagram. I already knew Christian 2 from a social media event in Bad Münstereifel.
Arriving in Scotland, Suse and Holger from Golf in Scotland welcomed us. In a van we went comfortably to Anstruther to the Guesthouse Spindrift. Unfortunately, I was not sitting in the direction of travel and on arrival I felt sick at first. But that settled down quickly.
My room turned out to be very comfortable and sufficiently warm. The sun was shining, but the thermometer didn’t show more than 8 degrees. A strong wind made it also not exactly better 😉
Until dinner and getting to know each other (the other part of the group of 8 traveled from Cologne) was still quite a bit of time, which we spent exploring the small town. I then separated myself from them, as I really wanted to withdraw money. Unfortunately, this was not so easy and not crowned with success at first. As it turned out then also completely unnecessary, since one can pay in Scotland actually everything with card. Even single digit amounts are no problem.
Since this is a blog about golf, I will exclude the other activities as far as possible. But do not worry, we had a lot of fun besides golfing, good food and always enough beer 😉
Anstruther Golf Club
On the second day we visited the course right in our town, Anstruther GC. A 9-hole course directly on the coast. The weather was sunny and windy at about 8 degrees. A few layers of clothing and it was bearable 😉
I found to some extent in my game (warm-up or driving ranges do not exist in most clubs) and did not embarrass me in my flight. Only my approaches were poor. The ground around the greens was quite hard and not very grassy. So I could not make my usual high shots, because I hardly got under the ball. Some topped balls chased out over the green. In addition, the wind made a usual game almost impossible. Either you had to take 2 more irons because of the headwind or the crosswind brought the balls in unattractive positions. But this is normal for Scotland and that’s why we are here.
Course 5 “Rockies” on the Anstruther Golf Course
When we reached hole 5, we were flattened: The par 3 is about 210 meters long and the green is hidden behind a small rocky outcrop. It runs directly along the coast (left) and on the right there is a steep planted slope. The fairway begins in about 120 meters and is 15 meters wide 😉 felt.
I immediately realized I couldn’t play this as a par 3, but only by putting it forward. So I took my favorite club – a hybrid 5 – and brought the tee shot straight and close from the length to the fairway. From there it was about 100 meters to the green. A fierce headwind made me go for the 7 iron and the shot went straight to the green. Then the 4 meter putt dropped for par!
I had actually played the hardest par 3 in the United Kingdom par 🙂
Drumoig Golf Course
On the third day we drove to the second golf course, Drumoig Golf Course. The drive was entertaining and I think in 30 minutes we were already there. Holger, one of the tour guides, said that with a 45 minute drive we could reach about 100 golf courses. Scotland is as big as Bavaria and has about 550 golf courses!
The course is nestled in a slightly hilly landscape and is somewhat reminiscent of German conditions. Very nice, but nothing out of the ordinary except for two greens placed in a small rocky alcove. At least the weather was best and the fairways nice and wide, so that you could hit it 😉
Eden Golf Course
The third course already brought us close to the Old Course of St. Andrews. In fact, there are 6 golf courses on the headland near St. Andrews:
- Old Course
- Eden Course
- Jubilee Course
- New Course
- Strathtyrum Course
- Balgove Course (9 holes)
So today we were supposed to play the Eden Course. But before that, we went to a driving range, which is even equipped with a Trackman. In the parking lot, we had a funny encounter with an older couple who were also getting their bags out of the car. The woman looked at me, then her eyes widened and she called out: Are you Tommy? Once again, I was mistaken for Tommy Fleetwood. Unfortunately, I had to disappoint her.
I liked the Eden Course quite a bit. Partly it runs along the coast and the strong wind made the game challenging. A few nasty pot bunkers didn’t make it any easier.
In fact, I was able to complete this course with 89 strokes. That was quite an achievement 🙂
This course is also a very old club: it was founded in 1868. It runs right along the coast and stretches widthwise up a slight slope to the road. On the whole, however, very nicely situated, with a great view of the sea.
Unfortunately, it rained most of the time, but only lightly, so I got back to the clubhouse reasonably dry even without rain pants.
This golf course belongs to the golf courses directly near St. Andrews. But since I belonged to the group that got a tee time for the Old Course at short notice that day, I could not play this course. Therefore, I can’t report anything about it and go directly to the:
St. Andrews Old Course
I was looking forward to this the whole time. Playing the oldest course in the world! Our start time was one of the last; at 16:40. Hopefully we will come back with enough light.
After paying the green fee (about 110 British pounds), we went straight to the first tee. Before that, I briefly got acquainted with my caddie: Scottie. He was supposed to accompany me over 18 holes and help me with tips. I didn’t want to miss out on this service. If already then already, even if it costs 55 pounds plus tip.
In summer, by the way, the green fee is considerably more expensive – you then have to reckon with about 280 pounds.
The first tee is visible to everyone and people often gather to watch. Today, fortunately, there was nothing going on. Looking down the first fairway, a wide fairway stretches out (on the left is the 18th fairway, which you would theoretically be allowed to play). On the right, the first grandstands were already set up for the Open in the summer, so it wasn’t quite as wide as usual.
My first tee shot with the 5 wood was rather mediocre, but at least almost straight, just a bit short. I found the Vice brand ball and my caddie said if I was safe. My ball would have gone further after all! Of course, I was again unconvinced and played the ball, only to realize a few yards later that I had played the wrong one. It was the tee shot of a player from hole 18!
That was a good start.
Quickly the ball was replaced again and fortunately there was no trouble.
I somehow managed to finish the first hole, but in my mind I was still thinking about the miss. The next holes went without incident and from the third on, I even played my driver; very well indeed! My caddie and I were a great team. He showed me the direction to avoid bunkers and on the greens he could reliably read the breaks. It didn’t always go perfectly, of course, but even in the bunker he gave me good pointers on how to execute the shot.
Another challenging hole is 17, a par 4, where you play over a hotel annexe to reach the fairway. My caddie advised me against it right away. Better to pass it on the left, because my driving distance is not sufficient. Nevertheless, I played almost par there, as my putt just missed the hole.
In the end, I needed 94 strokes and even made a birdie on the 9th hole.
Really a successful round and the brightness was just enough at the end to be able to play until the end.
Dumbarnie Golf Links
This golf course was built only two years ago, i.e. in 2020. Apparently a course needs up to 10 years to reach a really good condition. Considering this, the course is fabulous. I wouldn’t have noticed it getting any better.
The courses nestle into a slightly hilly landscape and are wash “links”. Links is used to describe an area that is primarily sand and therefore cannot be used for agriculture. Usually such land is located near the coast and is typical of many golf courses in Scotland.
In fact, we were also able to use a driving range beforehand, where balls were provided free of charge. The starter on tee 1 greeted us with a small gift bag containing tees, birdie book, ball markers and other useful items. Even a whiskey was offered!
The weather was great and we were able to comfortably enjoy the fairways, bunkers and greens. The latter were certainly not perfect, but there was a £15 voucher to compensate. The course is challenging, but doable. I liked it very much. However, good prices are also called here: The green fee in summer is regularly 270 pounds for guests.
Conclusion of the golf trip to Scotland
Scotland is a country of golfers. Even in school this sport is taught and people pushing their trolley through the streets are not uncommon. Take the bag with you on the bus? No problem, the driver will gladly open the trunk for it.
Besides, golf is meant to be enjoyed, the Scots don’t know how to get angry when playing golf. Also, the score is only interesting in tournaments or in private hole betting. You will rarely see someone in the clubhouse calculating their score, as is the case in Germany. I noticed this very positively, because it corresponds to my mentality: Better to enjoy than to be annoyed.
Besides the great courses, I was also thrilled by the birdie books that the clubs gave me to play, at no extra charge of course.
Apart from the golfing, I had no expectations of Scotland. I was all the more surprised by the good food. Of course, everything there is more expensive than in Germany, but the quality was outstanding. Perhaps it was also due to the restaurants that Suse and Holger had chosen for us. In any case, it tasted great to me every evening!
Looking back, it was a great golf week and worth every penny. In total I probably spent 3000,- Euro, but I don’t regret anything.
Addendum: Back in Germany
On April 15, Christian and I flew back. The flight was without incident and after we finally stowed our luggage in the car. The next day I felt unwell and it wasn’t long before I was in bed with a high fever for several days. Corona had caught me and 3 others from our travel group. How good that it did not hit us in Scotland!