Author: Callum Taylor, Managing Director, Golf Concierge Scotland Ltd, Edinburgh.
With no imminent global travel taking place it is a good time to take the opportunity to reflect on a critical part of any golf trip-where to stay.
Golf travelers begin the planning stage by quite rightly focusing all their efforts on pinpointing the exact bucket list courses they want to play. Whether they have seen legends of the game tee it up there, heard stories of wonder or seek out links layouts that will blow their minds, Scotland and Ireland are firm favourite destinations.
This course planning stage is usually followed by the next question, where will our group sleep for the night?? Here are 4 points to consider when selecting your golfer’s HQ for the week.
Location, Location, Location
Every group has that golfer who is always showing up on the 1st tee 5 minutes before his time; tired, disheveled and maybe even having missed the late-night taxi. During any golf trip, convenience and time, are critical. A golf hotel needs to be either within a few hundred yards of your next morning’s tee time or within a short walk of quality bars and restaurants - ideally both!!
When we look at the location of some of our featured golf hotels these properties score off the charts.
Ardgowan Hotel, St Andrews – Located in the heart of St Andrews on North Street and only short walking distance to The Old Course and golfer bars like The Dunvegan. A family run, 3-star hotel with recent refurbishments meaning it’s really just as good as any of the towns 4-star options we know.
Piersland House, Troon – Only 300 yards from the prestigious Royal Troon Golf Club. Piersland House is the former home of the Johnnie Walker whisky family and offers golfers a quality country house retreat in Ayrshire’s golfing paradise.
Greywalls Hotel, Gullane – The 5-star Greywalls Hotel overlooks the world-famous greens of the 9th and 18th holes at Muirfield Golf Club. Legends of the game including Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Nick Faldo and Ernie Els, have all stayed at Greywalls before going onto win The Open and lifting the Claret Jug.
Teach de Broc, Ballybunion – Only 100 yards from the world famous Ballybunion Golf Club. Excellent 4-star lodgings and recently won 2020 Boutique Golf Hotel of the Year at IGTOA Awards.
Budget will obviously determine whether golfers can stay in a closet room or fork out for the presidential suite. But you can always make special requests at the time of booking and don’t necessarily have to spend the big bucks to have a great experience. When booking consider requesting a room with a view, a bathtub, or stay in private lodge or cottage so your group has its own living space to kick back and relax after a marathon golf day.
Fairmont St Andrews - The rooms at Fairmont St Andrews are huge and the bathrooms don’t disappoint either.
The Old Manor, Lundin Links – The superior view rooms are only marginally more expensive than a standard room but offer increased space and views out over the beautiful Lundin Links and the Firth of Forth. And your only 20 minutes from St Andrews.
Archerfield Golf Club, North Berwick – Luxurious and spacious 3- and 4-bedroom private lodges are located in 550 acres of Archerfield’s private golf estate. The lodges come with all the mod cons making Archerfield the ideal base for exploring East Lothians top courses.
The majority of time golf tourists are exploring unfamiliar parts of the world for the first time and will see hotel staff on multiple occasions throughout their short stay. Therefore, it certainly makes your days more enjoyable and memorable when you have a friendly, knowledgeable receptionist, owner or bar man.
South Beach Hotel, Troon – Look no further than Stewart Watt, owner at South Beach Hotel, close to Troon’s famous links. Stewart is a longtime Royal Troon member, so knows all there is about golf. He also runs this superb hotel and is known to cook the breakfasts, dry out golfers’ waterproofs and generally offer local advice about where to go and what to not miss during your trip.
Ducks Inn, Aberlady – Malcolm Duck has been a restaurateur and hotelier for more than 30 years and runs Ducks Inn in Aberlady, East Lothian. He bleeds golf and is a member at the nearby Renaissance and Archerfield courses. Malcolm pours a proper pint, runs late night bar stool golf games and goes that extra mile to ensure his guests enjoy an outstanding golf trip.
The Marcliffe, Aberdeen – Run by another Stewart, this time Spence. Aberdeen’s only 5-star hotel this property scooped best hotel from 21-50 rooms at the 2019 Scottish Golf Tourism Awards. Stewart is a golf and hospitality addict, has travelled the world and is a member at Royal Aberdeen and Cruden Bay. Expect to get well looked after by Stewart and his team, you may even get lucky and gain access to The Snug, a magical basement room with a full size snooker table and golfing memorabilia from the likes of Augusta and The Walker Cup.
Golfers tend to congregate in one place……yes!! The Bar. 19th holes can be found in ample supply in the golfers’ towns of, Troon, St Andrews, North Berwick, Portrush and Lahinch. But here are a few stand-out bars actually located in hotels.
Sandman Signature, Aberdeen – The Chop Bar & Grill in this new Aberdeen city centre hotel offers a 360 plasma all round sports bar. The Sandman doesn’t stop here, with a late-night premium whisky lounge next door called the Freedom An' Whisky.
The Old Course Hotel, St Andrews – The top floor Road Hole Bar overlooks The Old Course. It’s fun during late afternoon but at night becomes magical, with an unrivalled view of the R&A clubhouse lit up. You will be spoilt for choice at The Old Course Hotel as they also own the legendary Jigger Inn pub with a beer garden directly beside the 17th fairway of the Old Course.
Glenmoriston Town House, Inverness – Situated in a prime city centre location on the banks of the River Ness you will find a Whisky and Piano Bar at Glenmoriston Town House. Guests can enjoy the live music, atmosphere and choose from over 260 malt whiskies, 50 gins or local Black Isle Brewery beer on tap.
Waterville House, Ireland – Legends of the game and the entertainment world have stayed here in the elegant 18th century Georgian mansion house, which overlooks the wild Atlantic. Guests can enjoy the view of Ballinskelligs Bay from the lounge and pour their own drinks from the honesty bar. We should not forget to mention the private Tom Fazio designed practice area at Waterville House which includes a driving range and Par 3 played beside The Currane River where guests can also fish for salmon.