A SCOTLAND GOLF TRIP TO REMEMBER
by Tom Chillemi
My son John and a group from California and Texas just got back from a great trip to Scotland. Here’s what he had to say about the trip:
“This was the first trip to Scotland for 3 of our 4 golfers, and it was a fantastic experience from start to finish. We were greeted at the Glasgow airport by Roddy, our private driver and concierge for the next 7 days. Roddy made the trip! He drove us everywhere we needed to be, helped us pick restaurants and local pubs, arranged Whisky tastings and castle tours, and rolled out a new Scottish joke roughly every 5 minutes.
We stayed at the Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews for most of our trip. This is a 5-star hotel that lives up to its rating in every way with large modern rooms and incredible service. It sits adjacent to the famous Road Hole (#17) on the Old Course, with stunning views. We ended nearly every day with a glass or two of Whisky at the Road Hole bar overlooking its namesake hole and the town of St. Andrews.
Our first round of golf was at the Crail Balcomie course. It is a classic links course with a view of the North Sea from every hole, and it is the 7th oldest Golf Club in the world. It’s also a little more forgiving than the other courses we played, which makes it a nice way to start the trip. We had our first of many orders of fish and chips at the Crail clubhouse with great views of the course and the sea.
Next, we played Kingsbarns, about 6 miles from St. Andrews. Not quite 20 years old, this course is a masterpiece and one of the most breathtaking ever developed. It has become one of the most popular courses in Scotland for good reason and is an excellent modern links compliment to the much older classic courses in St. Andrews. After lunch and pints at another spectacular clubhouse, we stopped by the Kingsbarns Distillery next door for a taste of Whisky.
We played the Old Course at St. Andrews on the third day. We were all a little nervous on the first tee of the “Home of Golf”, but settled in for an experience of a lifetime. I still get chills thinking about the walk on #18 over the Swilken bridge. We were so pumped after the Old Course that we played an unscheduled 2nd round at the Jubilee course that afternoon.
Day 4, we were brought back down to earth at Carnoustie. Our weather had been fantastic up until this point, but the difficulty of Carnoustie was made even harder with 20 – 30 mph winds. By far the hardest course we played, I landed in 15 of the 112 sand traps, and didn’t always get over the 6 foot walls on the first try.
Our final and most memorable round was at Castle Stuart just outside of Inverness. This course is only 10 years old, and has already hosted the Scottish Open 4 times, including Phil Michelson’s exciting victory in 2013. The views and topography are the best that we played in my opinion.
On our last night, we had a nice celebratory dinner in Glasgow with Stewart Smith, PGA, UK partner of Tom’s Golf Tours, followed by a few pints and some live music at Roddy’s local pub.
As our trip ended, we found ourselves planning the next one, returning to St. Andrews in combination with a couple of days in Ayrshire to hit Royal Troon and Turnberry. Can’t wait!”