Golf trips to Britain’s top golf courses are selling out this year and next

Travelers planning a golfing holiday at prestigious UK courses may need to act fast.

Some of the UK’s top venues are selling out, not just this year, but for spots – or tee time – in 2023, in part due to growing confidence in international travel of wealthy Americans.

Visitors are drawn to the opportunity to tee off at venues played by some of the game’s top players and the close proximity of premium courses that make Scotland a particularly attractive ticket.

Gordon Dalgleish, a Scot who ran the US tour operator PerryGolf in nearly four decades, he says he has never seen so much demand from Americans looking to play premium courses in Britain, such as the Old Course in the seaside town of St. Andrews and Muirfield, east of Edinburgh.

“These are courses that fill up much faster than I’ve seen in 38 years. Some fill up,” he told CNBC by email.

PerryGolf has almost sold out of its 2023 seats to play the Old Course, which hopes to host Tiger Woods at the 150th Open Championship in July. said in a tweet that he has pulled out of next week’s US Open due to health issues, adding that he plans to get ready for the event in the UK.

Dalgleish said travelers are booking trips months earlier than usual, especially those who have accumulated cash during the pandemic and are willing to spend it.

“If you look at the typical demographic of American golfers, maybe mid-to-late in life, they have more money and they have less time than they did two years ago,” he told CNBC. by phone.

Now, even celebrities with money to burn are being turned away, Dalgleish said. He said “A-class businessman” contacted him but “simply don’t understand it [bookings] not available,” he said.

It is estimated that nearly 67 million people Around the world played 9- or 18-hole courses in 2021, a record high and a number that has increased during the pandemic as people go outdoors to improve their handicaps, according to The R&A, organization that governs the golf rules of most of the world.

Scotland’s Top Courses

Old St. Andrews

St. Andrews is home to seven courses, and “Old course“is where the sport of golf is said to have originated some 600 years ago. Jack Nicklaus won the Open or “Open” there in 1970 and 1978, and it’s known for its ethos. like the 700-year-old Swilcan Bridge and the 7-foot-deep Hell Bunker.

The best way for foreign tourists to get seats on the Old Court is through an authorized supplier. American companies PerryGolf and SGH Golf are also on the list, as are others including Scotland-based DP&L Golf.

Jack Nicklaus won the 1970 Open Championship held on the Old Course in St Andrews, Scotland. The course remains one of the most popular with American tourists.

R&A Championship | R&A | beautiful pictures

However, if you’re willing to take the risk, Old Course will vote on tee times 48 hours before play. With half of the points allocated this way, the lottery system “allows golfers in the area to still have a chance to play” according to its website.

Another option is to go it alone. Single golfers, who show up on game day, are sometimes grouped with two or three other players.

Ian Murphy, a Briton who lives in the South of England and says he takes three or four short golf breaks a year, recommends contacting hotels or tourist boards such as Visit Scotland to see if they have tee time available. Otherwise, you can just soak up the atmosphere of the Old Course without playing it, he says.

What is an “affiliate” course?

“Associated” courses are the original style of golf, originating in Scotland. The term “links” is derived from the Old English word “hlinc”, meaning a mountainside or raised ground, and refers to golf courses on the coasts of Scotland, Ireland or England that are sandy and undulating. Such courses tend to be difficult to play, as they are exposed to the elements and are different from courses in manicured parkland, often with trees and man-made features.

“You can really just walk around the golf course, and that’s as good as playing golf,” he said. “You could stay at a nice guesthouse in St. Andrews, spend half an hour just watching people tee off on the Old Course. [and] lunch at the clubhouse. “

Murphy – who has managed to play the Old Course three times in the past two years due to a lack of overseas bookings related to the pandemic – also recommends booking off-season tee times. Also, he said, the weather in Scotland can be unpredictable, so going in peak summer is not a guarantee of sunshine.

Trump Turnberry

Trump TurnberryOn the west coast of Scotland and the first to host the Open in 1860, it is the favorite field of professional American club Kyle Phelps.

He told CNBC via email: “It’s a challenging layout but allows you to be rewarded if you play well. The landscaping is amazing and the fact that the halfway house is a lighthouse is absolutely breathtaking. “.

The pitch has tee time this summer, although some weekend spots are sold out, according to the club’s website.

The lighthouse sits amid the ruins of 13th-century Turnberry Castle, and Phelps, head of golf at Rhode Island Country Club, says part of the allure of Scotland’s courses is that their terrain is different. with manicured yards in the United States. .

Lighthouse at Ailsa Yard at Trump Turnberry Resort. The Trump Organization purchased the course in 2014.

David Cannon | beautiful pictures

Courses may have burns, or streams, along with vast clumps of heather, Two green holes — two holes to play with, not one — and the pothole, which is small and deep, isn’t like the shallower bunker, Phelps says.

The Trump Organization has owned Turnberry since 2014 and they claim to have spent £200 million ($253 million) on the restoration. Ownership is not without controversy: Days after the attacks on the US Capitol, R&A, the Open organization, says it won’t hold the championship at the club while it is owned by the former chairman’s company.


Dating to 1744, Muirfield will host the Women’s Open Championship in August. Reports have suggested that tee time for the summer of 2023 has already been booked, but a representative told CNBC that though it’s from May to September is in “high demand”, there is still some room left around this time, as is April and October next year.

A woman plays golf in Muirfield, Scotland, in 2019, when the club opened its doors to women for the first time. It will host the Women’s Open Championship in August.

Jeff J Mitchell | beautiful pictures

Play multiple keys in one trip

Perry Golf customers on a six-night tour can enjoy a variety of top courses, such as Royal Troon Golf Clubis set to host the Open in 2024, Carnoustie Golf Links – where golf legend Ben Hogan first played associate golf in 1953 – and Kingsbarns Golf Linkswhere American swimmer Michael Phelps performed a 153-foot “monster” lap in 2012.

Dalgleish says such a tour can cost around $12,000 per person, including airfare and expenses. “Our demographic is that people who are members of many clubs are spending significantly to join clubs… and that’s just part of their lifestyle,” he explains.

U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championships at Kingsbarns Golf Links on October 5, 2012.

Ian MacNichol | AFP | beautiful pictures

Kyle Phelps said being able to stay at a hotel and play several venues is the best part of golf in the UK

“On a long weekend you can play The Old Course, Carnoustie & Kingsbarns,” he said. “In the US, that would be the equivalent of playing Pine Valley, Merion and Pebble Beach on consecutive days.”

Internal Selection

Royal Dornoch

Another high-demand course is one of Murphy’s favorites: Royal Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands in the northeast of the country. Farther north, the sun sets about an hour later than it does in London, which provides longer “spectacular” views, Murphy said.

Royal Dornoch Golf Course in Scotland has seen “unprecedented demand” from people looking to play in 2022, according to its website.

Lucinda Lee / Eyeem | Eyeem | beautiful pictures

“It’s just stunning in terms of views of the Dornoch Firth and the North Sea, and the town itself is a beautiful Scottish Highlands town with an old church,” said Murphy. The course is “also right in the heart of the village, so it’s a central part of the community.”

But because of “unprecedented demand,” orders for the club’s “Champions Course” have been closed this year, according to the club’s website, and golfers are advised. Register online for future availability.

Link Murcar

Just outside Aberdeen in northeastern Scotland is Link Murcara “hidden gem” with a “warm, friendly” environment, according to Murphy.

“It’s right on the shoreline, with views of the oil rigs and wind turbines at sea, and calls it a ‘quite, quirky little golf course’,” he said.

It is 9 miles from Aberdeen Airport, and reservations are available for this summer, starting from around £130.

Castle Stuart Golf Links

Near Inverness Airport is Castle Stuartwas opened in 2009 and designed by late developer Mark Parsinen and architect Gil Hanse, both American.

Alex Noren of Sweden competed at the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart Golf Links on 8 July 2016. He went on to win the tournament.

Kevin C. Cox | beautiful pictures

Murphy liked the course because of its service: “Everybody knows your name from the moment you arrive… Everything went so smoothly between arrival, check-in, clubhouse meals, trips. to the driving range, the first tee visit, the man who serves you drinks halfway… It’s more like American service, but on a personal level,” he said.

The course is currently promoting packages for October and November, golfers please email for availability.

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