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

Travelers planning a golf holiday to prestigious courses in the UK may need to act fast.

Some of the UK’s best-selling venues, not just this year, but venues – or playing times – in 2023, in part because of the growing confidence in international travel among wealthy Americans.

Travelers are attracted to the chance to visit the site played by some of the game’s best players, and excellent courses close by make Scotland a particularly wonderful ticket.

Gordon Dalglish, a Scot who has run the American tour company Berry Golf for almost four decades, says he has never seen so much demand from Americans wanting to take luxury courses in Britain as the old course in the coastal town of St Andrews. and Muirfield, east of Edinburgh.

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

PerryGolf has sold nearly 2,023 old playing fields, which he hopes will house Tiger Woods at the 150th Open in July. the star He said in a tweet He withdrew from next week’s US Open due to health issues, adding that he planned to be ready for the British event.

Dalglish said travelers book flights months earlier than usual, especially those who have collected cash during the pandemic and are willing to spend it.

“If you look at the typical demographics of an American golfer, maybe middle-aged or later in life, they make a lot more money, and they have less time than they did two years ago,” he told CNBC. by phone.

Now, Dalglish said, even celebrities with money to burn are being turned away. He said that “first-class businessmen” had called him, but simply did not understand [bookings] not available “.

An estimated 67 million people worldwide played 9- or 18-hole courses in 2021, a record high, and that number rose during the pandemic as people go overseas to increase their disability, according to the R&A, which rules golf rules for the most scientific.

Top courses in Scotland

Jack Nicklaus won the 1970 Open held at Old Stadium in St Andrews, Scotland. The course remains one of the most popular among American visitors.

R&A Championships | R & A | Getty Images

However, if you are willing to take the risk, Old Course votes for tee times 48 hours before you start playing. With half of the sites allocated in this way, the lottery system gives “golfers located in the area the opportunity to play,” according to its website.

Another option is to go alone. Solo golfers, who appear on game day, are sometimes grouped with two or three other players.

Ian Murphy, a Briton who lives in the south of England and said he spends three or four short golf holidays a year, recommends contacting hotels or tourist councils like Visit Scotland to see if they have tee times available. If not, it is possible to enjoy the atmosphere of the old stadium without playing it, he said.

What is the ‘left’ cycle?

“Left” courses are the original style of golf course, originating in Scotland. The term “links” comes from the Old English word “hlinc”, meaning hills or high ground, and refers to golf courses on the sandy and undulating Scottish, Irish or English coast. Courses like these tend to be difficult to play because they are weathered, and differ from manicured garden lanes, which often have trees and man-made features.

“You can actually just walk around the golf course, and it’s almost as good as playing it,” he said. “You can stay in a nice guest house in St Andrews, and only spend half an hour watching people leave the old stadium. [and] Have lunch at the club. ”

Murphy – who has been able to play the old track three times in the past two years due to a lack of overseas bookings related to the pandemic – also recommends booking off-season offseason times. On top of that, he said, the weather in Scotland can be unpredictable, so going in the summer does not guarantee sunshine.

Trump Turnberry

Trump Turnberry, on the west coast of Scotland and the first stadium to host the 1860 Open Championship, is the favorite stadium of American professional Kyle Phelps.

“It’s a design that’s challenging but that allows you to be rewarded if you play well,” he told CNBC in an email. The views are incredible and the fact that the house is in the middle of the road is a beacon is absolutely incredible. ”

Track play times are available this summer, although some weekend spots have been sold out, according to the club’s website.

The lighthouse stands between the ruins of the 13th-century Turnberry Castle, and part of the appeal of Scottish courses is that their grounds differ from the well-kept courses in the United States, said Phelps, head of prog golf at the Rhode Island Country Club, said.

The lighthouse at Ailsa Stadium at the Trump Turnberry Resort. The Trump organization bought the course in 2014.

David Cannon | Getty Images

Bans can have burns or shoots, as well as large areas of heath, Phelps said the double greens – which have two play holes instead of one – and pot bunkers, which are small and deep as opposed to the shallow sand bunkers.

The Trump organization has owned Turnberry since 2014 and claims they spent £ 200 million ($ 253 million) on repairing it. Ownership is not without controversy: Days after the attacks on the US capital, the R&A, which organizes the Open, said the tournament would not take place at the club while it was owned by the former president’s company.


Muirfield dates from 1744 and will host the Women’s Open in August. Reports indicated that start times for summer 2023 were fully booked, but a representative told CNBC that although May-September saw “high demand”, there were still some dates during this period, as well as in April and October of next year.

A woman is playing 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 in August.

Jeff J. Mitchell | Getty Images

Play multiple courses in one trip

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

Ian McNicol | AFP | Getty Images

Kyle Phelps said it’s the best part of golf in the UK to be able to stay in one hotel and play a number of places.

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

Insider’s Choices

Royal Dornoch’s Scottish golf course has seen “unprecedented demand” from those who want to play in 2022, according to its website.

Lucinda Lee / Im | Eye | Getty Images

“It’s just breathtaking in terms of views over the Dornoch Firth and over the North Sea, and the town itself is a beautiful highland Scottish town with an old cathedral,” Murphy said. The course is “also in the middle of town, so it’s an essential part of the community.”

But due to “unprecedented demand”, bookings for the club’s “championship course” have been closed this year, according to the club’s website, and golfers are advised to register online for future availability.

Murcar links

Murcar, located outside Aberdeen in the north-east of Scotland, connects a “hidden gem” with a “warm and friendly” environment, according to Murphy.

“It’s right on the coast, with views of oil rigs and offshore wind turbines in the background,” he said, describing it as “a beautiful, cute little golf course.”

It is located nine miles from Aberdeen Airport, and bookings are available for this summer, from around £ 130.

Castle Stewart Golf Links

Near Inverness Airport, Stewart Castle was opened in 2009 and designed by the late developer Mark Barcinen and architect Jill Hansey, both Americans.

The Swede Alex Noren plays on July 8, 2016 at the Scottish Open at Castle Stewart Golf Links. He went on to win the championship.

Kevin C Cox | Getty Images

Murphy loves the course because of his service: “Everyone knows your name since you arrive … everything goes so smoothly between arrival, check-in, dinner at the club, drive to the drive-in, a visit to Ola the tea, the guy who serves you drinks halfway .. he is More like American Service, but on a personal level. ”

The course is currently promoting October and November packages, and golfers are advised to email to check availability.

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