A St. Andrews golf vacation on three budgets: Plan a trip to the home of golf on any wallet size
St. Andrews is the world's most prestigious golf destination, but it doesn't have to be one of the most expensive.
You can drop a pretty penny here, staying and playing on the finest links golf courses and hotels. But that shouldn't deter the more budget-conscious golfer from looking into a golf trip to the home of golf. You can enjoy yourself here too.
And golfers of any means should make a point to spend a few days in St. Andrews. Here is how to do it on three separate budgets.
Luxury St. Andrews golf
If there is anywhere in the world to splurge on a golf trip, it's St. Andrews.
Any reputable St. Andrews golf vacation packager should know every pub, restaurant and bunker inside and out. Hiring a coach will let you enjoy all the whisky and pints you desire without stumbling into the Swilcan Burn on your walk home.
Nearby courses not to be missed include the notorious Carnoustie, an easy drive from St. Andrews. Also, Gleneagles, site of the 2014 Ryder Cup Matches, features three golf courses around its five-star hotel. Many visitors opt for James Braid's classic King's Course over the Ryder Cup host PGA Centenary Course.
If you're looking for more top golf closer to St. Andrews, don't worry. Fairmont St. Andrews Torrance and Devlin links are both stunning layouts just outside the town near the new Castle Course. For a challenging heathland course, head to the recently redesigned and upgraded Duke's Course overlooking the town.
Accommodations: St. Andrews has numerous luxurious four- and five-star options, like the Fairmont St. Andrews just up the road from town and the Old Course Hotel, recently purchased by Herb Kohler (of Whistling Straits fame). If you want the best view of the first tee and 18th green the city has to offer, reserve the Young Tom Morris suite at the Rusacks Hotel overlooking the course. There is a balcony large enough your foursome can spend the morning watching nervous whacks off the 1st tee, or finishing groups attempts to navigate the Valley of Sin in the twilight.
St. Andrews Golf for the middle budget
If you have a little cash to spare, chances are you're going to opt for that once-in-a-lifetime round on the Old Course. You'll want to skimp, however, on the surrounding upper-level links.
Or you can also head out of town to visit some very good links nearby, lesser-known but not to be missed, including some Open Qualifying courses. Historic links near St. Andrews include Crail's Balcomie and Craighead links, Dundin Golf Club and Leven Links are all £50.
Accommodations: There are some good three-star hotels in town. The Ardgowan Hotel, just 200 yards from the Old Course. It's comprised of two adjoined Georgian houses is a good mid-level option that recently renovated their guest rooms and Scottish cuisine in their restaurant. Triple rooms in the high season are £50 per person, including a full Scottish breakfast each morning.
Budget St. Andrews Golf
Go to St. Andrews and not play the Old Course? Sure, you're missing out. But there are plenty of great links in the area you can play for less, while basking in the atmosphere of St. Andrews and the Kingdom of Fife.
Besides, the Old Course is closed to golfers on Sundays but is open as a public park. So nothing is stopping you walking the course all day for nothing. Heck, you can even play Frisbee on the Road Hole.
After the New and Jubilee courses mentioned above, the Eden Course, a near-century old H.S. Colt design is just £40. The Strathtyrum is the least expensive of the 18-hole courses of the Links Trust at just £25.
You can also spend a day at the all-encompassing practice center on site if you don't feel like paying for a full round every day.
Accommodations: Being a university town as much as it is a golf town means there is going to be some cheap beds. Guest houses are the cheapest way to go, though they can often impose curfews, aren't always friendly and may not have parking.
Neil Robertson with St. Andrews Luxury Golf suggests value-friendly lodging like the Inn on North Street, with new, golf-enthusiastic owners, or their sister Pilmour Hotel. You can even stay in University accommodation at the New Hall on North Haugh Street.
For dining, you'll be surrounded by college kids, experts at making their meal money stretch. They'll surely be able to offer some penny-pinching tricks of the trade.
To save coin, play St. Andrews during the shoulder season
Budget-conscious groups should consider the shoulder season (April and October) instead of the peak summer months. It will be a little cooler but pleasant days can still be had. Hotel rooms will also be much easier to find. Golf courses are usually discounted 25-40 percent this time of year too.
The off-season, you ask? It's a riskier bet. Courses aren't in their best shape, there's little sunlight and at the Old Course you must use mats in the fairways. Stick to the shoulder season.
Getting around St. Andrews
Thanks to the wealth of golf courses in St. Andrews and the Kingdom of Fife, you can skip the rental car and use Scotland's efficient and easy-to-use public transportation. To get to St. Andrews via public transportation, take a train from Edinburgh or Glasgow to nearby Leuchars for as little as £5-10. From here, take a short bus ride to the town center. (Visit ScotRail.com for transportation details).
Free shuttles are also available from Fairmont St. Andrews to town and back.
August 13, 2008