As you would imagine when you attempt to put together an itinerary that incorporates over 40 golf courses in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland there will be some logistical challenges along the way.
We expected a number of these challenges when putting together this trip but with a number of years of experience in putting together “bucket list” golf holidays for our clients we thought it would all work out in the end.
Thankfully it did but for your interest (and because I want to share some of the pain we experienced with others) we thought we would give you a few of the challenges we encountered.
Key thing to remember here is that if you are considering planning your own trip to this part of the world or elsewhere that you get employ an expert to help you do it. It may cost you a little bit more but the amount of grey hairs, sleepless nights you will avoid will be more than worth it.
So here goes:
- The time of the year we were travelling was peak season meaning that golf and accommodation tends to book up a fair way in advance. Our point to note here is that you can never be too early in contacting golf clubs, accommodation places or employing someone like GOLFSelect (Gary’s company) to help you plan the trip.
- We needed to contend with a number of small events including:
- The British Open (Royal Lytham and St Annes)
- British Amateur (Royal Troon)
- Scottish Open (CastleStuart)
- Irish Open (Royal Portrush)
- The Old Course (nothing particular just the challenges of arranging access)
Whilst the events themselves only last up to a week the courses tend to close to visitors a few weeks prior to the event. In the case of Royal Lytham they closed the course over 6 weeks prior to the Open (we managed to pull a few strings here which enabled us to play the course).
In preparation our schedule was fairly much in place with our game booked at Royal Portrush booked initially for Monday 18 June. But then the Irish Open venue was announced (at very short notice) and it was Royal Portrush. The course was then closed to visitors from the Friday 15 June which meant we were hamstrung. Attempts to get to Portrush earlier did not work because of the bookings at other courses.
This is what is known as the Domino effect – if you change one course (or are forced to change one course) what effect does it have on the rest of the itinerary. In the case of Royal Portrush we desperately wanted to play this course so moved our itinerary around to make this happen. In doing so it created some challenges with Royal County Down (a must play) that took some time to sort (with the efforts of a very sympathetic secretary manager – thank you David!).
The British Amateur is being held at Royal Troon in mid June which also caused challenges but thankfully these were also sorted out.
In changing the itinerary some games were immovable. For example we had organised a game at Muirfield with a friend of a member and this was in place for a number of months before this game was threatened with the other changes. Thankfully though we kept this game in place and massaged everything around it.
The other major challenge was managing driving distances. When you play this many courses in such a short period of time you need to be driving a fair bit. Having two people in the group meant that we could share the driving which made it all a bit more manageable. However there were still drives of 4 hours in some cases which meant some healthy and robust conversation about the merits of a course we had just played were common place.
In spite of all of the above the itinerary appears to work (we am writing this ahead of the finish of the trip so I will update you later on). The prime focus of the trip was golf with very little other activities. But that is the great thing about this trip – we could do this being focussed on golf and golf only.
Oh and by the way the other thing we tried to do was get to destinations which enabled us to stay overnight near the course so that with camera in hand Gary could capture some images of the wonderful courses we played. When the sun rises at 4:45am and sets at 10:05pm it makes for some very long days (and even longer when you want to take photos….)