Visiting Scotland in the Autumn, or the Fall if you prefer, can prove to be a canny move (canny-local dialect for smart ;).The courses are still in top condition and the weather is often a perfect temperature for golf complimented by light winds. A great many Scots will tell you that the country is at its most magnificent when the trees turn to golden browns, oranges and yellows.
The Lavin family, comprising Dad and his six sons, had decided on a much needed ‘family get- together boys golf adventure’. So a referral from a family friend at the Sea Island resort in Georgia put the family in touch with us at Muirfield Travel. In initial conversations it became clear that there was going to be a need for some top notch logistics with these guys, as they were flying into Scotland from all over the States. Secondly, time was valuable; they had just five nights together.
The game of golf plays a significant role in this family but they wanted to ensure that they played the right amount of golf whilst leaving time to eat, relax and catch up with each other. Sometimes visitors can try and play so much golf whilst here that they go home for a vacation afterwards! Listening to, and understanding each guest’s expectations and requirements, is the most important thing we can do before we put together your own golf adventure.
In discussions with the family it was agreed that three of our best golf courses (Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews) would be played. They are geographically close so travel time was reduced and crucially the family could base itself at one hotel for the duration. Regular packing and unpacking was not part of their golf adventure. After a few emails back and forth it was decided that the family-owned Ardgowan Hotel, St Andrews matched their expectations perfectly.
The weather can present proper challenges on our links courses. But the weather played a different hand here. The impending arrival of a major hurricane at home led to the first party leaving a day early. En route, their flight was then diverted. Arrangements were changed as they took an unscheduled stopover in Amsterdam. Next day, with new flights arranged, saw the first party arrive to meet the second party at Edinburgh airport. With the arrival logistics nearly completed the transfer by luxury bus to St. Andrews passed without a hitch. Which was a welcome relief, in the circumstances.
Carnoustie can be one of the toughest tests of golf in Scotland. It hosts the 147th Open Championship in 2018, but on this Saturday morning our boys were greeted with fair weather and fine conditions. The first indications of golf being played in the town go back to 1560 and some of the caddies look old enough to have been around since then! After some close matches and more than a few beers in the clubhouse, we got the boys back to St Andrews for a big family dinner in the town.
Sunday saw us take the short trip to Kingsbarns Links just outside St Andrews. Golf dates back to 1793 on this links land but it was only recently that it was revived and the magnificent golf course we see today was designed. It’s a real treat to play with some dramatic views out to sea and signature holes with elevated tees. The welcome is always tremendously warm and generous too. So much so, that one of the party went back the following day for another round!
That evening we had arranged for the family to have dinner at the world famous Jigger Inn, that sits next to the Old Course in St Andrews.
Only a ten minute stroll from their hotel it was the perfect venue, with its huge collection of golf memorabilia and its own Jigger Ale, for the boys to enjoy their evening meal together. Quite a lot of Jigger Ale was consumed and it’s a little known fact that the ale is only available to drink here and at The American Club in Wisconsin. The stroll home took a little longer after the hospitality. But everybody loved the place and the people.
Sunday morning saw the final round at the New Course in St Andrews. The oldest ‘new’ course in the world, it was built by Tom Morris and very imaginatively named to differentiate it from its famous neighbour! It’s a classic test of links golf with undulating fairways and subtle greens. Nearly every game went down to the 18th hole. But in the end nobody really remembered the results, just the wonderful adventure the family had enjoyed together. We shook hands at the airport, bade everyone farewell and perhaps look forward to renewing acquaintances in the future.