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So I have completed all my planning to make my friend's 40th birthday special. We were planning to go to California when he mentioned he really wanted to go to Scotland and play the Old Course. I have planned the following 10day trip. We are a threesome the first 5 days and a different foursome for the last 5 days.

 

We are playing

 

Day 1 Cruden BAy after a night stay in Abderdeen.

Day 2 Drive to St Andrew's where we rented a house and play Kingsbarn

Day 3 North Berwick

Day 4 Open to try a walk on St Andrew's

Day 5 rest sightseeing in Edinburough, pick up second group

Day 6 Carnoustie

Day 7 Muirfield morning, Gullane #1 afternoon

Day 8 Castle morning, Old Course afternoon

Day 9 Kingsbarn

Day 10 Fly Home.

 

Looking for 3 nights of really good food From day 6 to 10. Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. Any price point welcome as it is a 10 day celebration and once in a lifetime trip.

 

Lastly for those of you who have played in May, can I ask what gear.. clothing wise is essential, Other than a good rain suit. I have read varying opinions on layering etc. Can I get away with a thermal undershirt, long sleeve shirt or Golf shirt with either a windstopper jacket (non rain days), Goretex jacket ( for heavy downpour) and a heavy golf pullover ( for sunny days with little wind or full sun). Any Help is greatly appreciated

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Do you know where you will be staying yet? I can give you some great restaurant recommendations for Edinburgh. There is definitely less choice in East Lothian if you are staying close to Muirfied/Gullane. There are nice restaurants but the food will definitely be more casual pub type.

 

With regards to weather, May is often the best month of the year for weather in Scotland. It should be fairly mild (by Scotland's standards). I would hope you would get away with two layers. Either a base layer under a polo or a polo shirt under a sweater. On colder days/early mornings you may want a light windstopper top layer. For the occasional but likely downpour/strong winds you will encounter you will need a water proof top layer. I would definitely recommend Gore-Tex if you can afford it.

 

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The drive from St Andrews to Gullane, NB and Muirfield is at least 2 hours. I'd play all the St Andrews courses first then stay in Edinburgh and play the courses on the golf Coast or the other way. As far as gear alot of people will tell you to keep the umbrella at home. I've played Scotland and Ireland and not every rain shower is sideways......

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In terms of weather wear, pack everything. It really is hit or miss. OK, I don't stay in St Andrews, maybe I'm about 50 miles away. Last Sunday, I was playing golf in a t-shirt. Pretty uncommon for March in Scotland. Today its pissing down and pretty windy. In the summer you could be lucky and have a great week of weather in the 20's, or it could be cold, wet and windy. Bring it all, look at the forecast on the day and pack the golf bag appropriately.

 

May is usually pretty decent, fingers crossed you can get away with a t-shirt and top.

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I've been on three "once in a lifetime" trips all during the end of May 2010, 2012, 2014. That's how I sold it to my wife at least. I have also planned a few itineraries for others trips. As it seems that you have, I have made my own reservations and have driven myself. As far as weather I was really lucky with rain. You will get showers that last 2-3 holes. Only 1 of my rounds, Elie in 2012, we played in 17 holes of pouring rain. Make sure you have a good rain suit they aren't cheap but the good ones are worth it. I have FJ Dry Joy Tour, but any of the quality rain suits will be fine. Rain gloves are a great idea too, you sacrifice a little feel but it's well worth it because you won't have to fight the fight of trying to keep your hands dry. I'm also in the no umbrellas camp. It's a wrestling match in the wind and caddies hate them. On another note speaking of caddies get them every chance you can. Some of our best stories include the caddies, it adds so much to the experience. In addition at Kingsbarns I shot 74 had I not had a caddie would have been a ton more I just listened to him in regards to lines off of the tees. Back to clothes, most days I just wore regular golf pants with a under layer mock (I like the Mizuno) and a windshirt. Your strategy listed in your post will be fine.

 

Regarding food, one suggestion that I have regarding the Muirfield day, especially since you are a foursome. I would call the club secretary to confirm. In 2010 we did this and it was an awesome experience. It is customary at Muirfield to play your own ball in the morning and after lunch they only allow alternate shot. On guest days they open their clubhouse to guests. Jackets and ties are required so after your morning round you change. You go into the most awesome clubhouse overlooking the golf course with the coolest golf history on display, to the grandest of buffets of man food, meat and drink. After your stuffed, back into your golf clothes and off again playing alternate shot. You would have to scrap Gullane, which is a good course, although a tough walk its on a mountain. If possible it's worth it in my opinion.

 

Most other days we usually ate at the pubs, Dunvegans and Jigger Inn, in St Andrews. I wouldn't call it cuisine but the food is pretty damn good and it's fun to hang out with a bunch of other dudes doing the exact same thing you are. Swapping stories and info about the courses you play. At Dunvegans a guy from Texas told me about Carnoustie, he played it that day and we were scheduled the following day, "The first six holes are hard, the last next twelve holes are f****** hard!" He was right. Pretty funny.

 

You have a solid line up of courses. Cruden Bay is a little out of the way but I will tell you with 100% confidence, it is a gem. Probably the most fun I've had on a course as far as golf holes go. Castle is controversial some hate it others love it. Great views of St Andrews. I played it once and will never again. If your looking to fill in a day don't overlook Jubilee and the New. If I had to choose one I would go with Jubilee, might be the toughest St Andrews course. Lots of good holes too.

 

One other tip in case you aren't familiar with driving on the "other side of the road". Constantly remind yourself to keep your right shoulder in the center of the road. A good GPS is valuable too. Mine told me what lane to be in once in the roundabout which can help. Not having to worry about directions is nice too.

 

You are going to have a blast, this has brought back a lot of great memories.

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I am the designated drive for my golf group. I drive and the front seat passenger is the navigator. At roundabouts, we use the clock method. We enter at 6:00. The navigator will tell me to exit at 12:00 for going straight, or 3:00 for a right turn, or whatever is the correct exit. Some times the GPS will say "take the second exit", which may be correct, but there will be a one way road connecting to the round about, so the second exit is the third road. I've found the clock method much easier to follow when driving.

 

As for gear, I recommend planning for any weather from sunny and 75 degrees to windy, rainy and cold. Sometimes they happen in the same round. I take a rain top and pants and layers. The forecasts generally get the wind and temperature right, but you will often have rain even on a day forecast as partly cloudy. On the worst days, I wear a tight silk top, a golf shirt, a long sleeve Underarmor top and then the rain top. If really, really bad, I'll add a cashmere sweater. The better the weather, the fewer layers. The silk top and the Underarmor tops are lightweight and fold to fit easily in a carry bag. My rain top is not lined. I figure I can put on a layer underneath it for warmth if needed and then I don't have the bulk in my bag or if I need rain protection but it is not too cold.

 

I carry a golf umbrella. Many days it's fine for those pop up showers. But be prepared to leave it down when the wind picks up.

 

A good, Goretex hat is also a must.

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Where are you flying into? If Edinburgh, i'd maybe change your itinerary round a little.

You'll be doing far too much driving for it to be properly enjoyable.

 

Day 1 Cruden BAy after a night stay in Abderdeen. Play North Berwick.

Day 2 Drive to St Andrew's where we rented a house and play Kingsbarn

Day 3 North Berwick Play St Andrews New

Day 4 Play Cruden Bay ( a long day so the day of rest afterwards would be good)

Day 5 rest sightseeing in Edinburough, pick up second group

Day 6 Carnoustie

Day 7 Muirfield morning, Gullane #1 afternoon Kingsbarns

Day 8 Castle morning, Old Course afternoon I'd drive past the Castle and go down to Crail and play Balcomie Links.

Day 9 Kingsbarn Muirfield morning, Gullane #1 afternoon Spend the night in Edinburgh

Day 10 Fly Home.

 

Not sure you can change anything but would be a bit more practical for your trip.

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There seems to be a lot of back and forth driving imo. As much as I love Cruden Bay I wouldn't go up to Aberdeen for the sole purpose of playing it during a 10 day trip unless I was already there for another reason.

 

Cuisine in Scotland is very underrated in general and excellent food can be had in both Edinburgh and St Andrews without much difficulty.

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Where are you flying into? If Edinburgh, i'd maybe change your itinerary round a little.

You'll be doing far too much driving for it to be properly enjoyable.

 

Day 1 Cruden BAy after a night stay in Abderdeen. Play North Berwick.

Day 2 Drive to St Andrew's where we rented a house and play Kingsbarn

Day 3 North Berwick Play St Andrews New

Day 4 Play Cruden Bay ( a long day so the day of rest afterwards would be good)

Day 5 rest sightseeing in Edinburough, pick up second group

Day 6 Carnoustie

Day 7 Muirfield morning, Gullane #1 afternoon Kingsbarns

Day 8 Castle morning, Old Course afternoon I'd drive past the Castle and go down to Crail and play Balcomie Links.

Day 9 Kingsbarn Muirfield morning, Gullane #1 afternoon Spend the night in Edinburgh

Day 10 Fly Home.

 

Not sure you can change anything but would be a bit more practical for your trip.

 

what he said, much more practical.

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Where are you flying into? If Edinburgh, i'd maybe change your itinerary round a little.

You'll be doing far too much driving for it to be properly enjoyable.

 

Day 1 Cruden BAy after a night stay in Abderdeen. Play North Berwick.

Day 2 Drive to St Andrew's where we rented a house and play Kingsbarn

Day 3 North Berwick Play St Andrews New

Day 4 Play Cruden Bay ( a long day so the day of rest afterwards would be good)

Day 5 rest sightseeing in Edinburough, pick up second group

Day 6 Carnoustie

Day 7 Muirfield morning, Gullane #1 afternoon Kingsbarns

Day 8 Castle morning, Old Course afternoon I'd drive past the Castle and go down to Crail and play Balcomie Links.

Day 9 Kingsbarn Muirfield morning, Gullane #1 afternoon Spend the night in Edinburgh

Day 10 Fly Home.

 

Not sure you can change anything but would be a bit more practical for your trip.

 

what he said, much more practical.

 

thanks for all the recommendations. The reason the schedule is set that way is that there are 2 foursomes playing. The first group wants to play Cruden Bay, so we are getting the car and diving up there as soon as we land. The Muirfield/Gullane day cannot be changed as they only allow visitors Tuesday and Thursday at Muirfield so Day 7 is set and cannot be changed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'd drop Gullane for North Berwick every day of the week and twice on a sunday!

 

Gullane is nice but just doesn't tick many of my boxes, North Berwick is a far better track, much more enjoyable in my opinion.

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I'd drop Gullane for North Berwick every day of the week and twice on a sunday!

 

Gullane is nice but just doesn't tick many of my boxes, North Berwick is a far better track, much more enjoyable in my opinion.

 

This and its cheaper

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I have a trip in 2017 that includes North Berwick and Muirfiled but we may get bumped from Gullane because of a tournament. Any other suggestions in that area? We will be staying in Edinburgh.

 

Renaissance is the 3rd best course in the area behind the two that you're already playing. Its one of the more private courses in Scotland, but you can get on by contacting them about their "one time experience". Its different and expensive, but its worth it.

 

Gullane 1 is cool, but there aren't many great holes. I still think its worth your time to play, just to get on top of that hill. The best part of G1 is getting to the top of the hill and looking at Muirfield. Seriously though, if you have time take a walk up the hill without your clubs.

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I have a trip in 2017 that includes North Berwick and Muirfiled but we may get bumped from Gullane because of a tournament. Any other suggestions in that area? We will be staying in Edinburgh.

 

Completely left field muni suggestion, Braid Hills #1 is great fun and very convenient for the airport.

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I've been on three "once in a lifetime" trips all during the end of May 2010, 2012, 2014. That's how I sold it to my wife at least. I have also planned a few itineraries for others trips. As it seems that you have, I have made my own reservations and have driven myself. As far as weather I was really lucky with rain. You will get showers that last 2-3 holes. Only 1 of my rounds, Elie in 2012, we played in 17 holes of pouring rain. Make sure you have a good rain suit they aren't cheap but the good ones are worth it. I have FJ Dry Joy Tour, but any of the quality rain suits will be fine. Rain gloves are a great idea too, you sacrifice a little feel but it's well worth it because you won't have to fight the fight of trying to keep your hands dry. I'm also in the no umbrellas camp. It's a wrestling match in the wind and caddies hate them. On another note speaking of caddies get them every chance you can. Some of our best stories include the caddies, it adds so much to the experience. In addition at Kingsbarns I shot 74 had I not had a caddie would have been a ton more I just listened to him in regards to lines off of the tees. Back to clothes, most days I just wore regular golf pants with a under layer mock (I like the Mizuno) and a windshirt. Your strategy listed in your post will be fine.

 

Regarding food, one suggestion that I have regarding the Muirfield day, especially since you are a foursome. I would call the club secretary to confirm. In 2010 we did this and it was an awesome experience. It is customary at Muirfield to play your own ball in the morning and after lunch they only allow alternate shot. On guest days they open their clubhouse to guests. Jackets and ties are required so after your morning round you change. You go into the most awesome clubhouse overlooking the golf course with the coolest golf history on display, to the grandest of buffets of man food, meat and drink. After your stuffed, back into your golf clothes and off again playing alternate shot. You would have to scrap Gullane, which is a good course, although a tough walk its on a mountain. If possible it's worth it in my opinion.

 

Most other days we usually ate at the pubs, Dunvegans and Jigger Inn, in St Andrews. I wouldn't call it cuisine but the food is pretty damn good and it's fun to hang out with a bunch of other dudes doing the exact same thing you are. Swapping stories and info about the courses you play. At Dunvegans a guy from Texas told me about Carnoustie, he played it that day and we were scheduled the following day, "The first six holes are hard, the last next twelve holes are f****** hard!" He was right. Pretty funny.

 

You have a solid line up of courses. Cruden Bay is a little out of the way but I will tell you with 100% confidence, it is a gem. Probably the most fun I've had on a course as far as golf holes go. Castle is controversial some hate it others love it. Great views of St Andrews. I played it once and will never again. If your looking to fill in a day don't overlook Jubilee and the New. If I had to choose one I would go with Jubilee, might be the toughest St Andrews course. Lots of good holes too.

 

One other tip in case you aren't familiar with driving on the "other side of the road". Constantly remind yourself to keep your right shoulder in the center of the road. A good GPS is valuable too. Mine told me what lane to be in once in the roundabout which can help. Not having to worry about directions is nice too.

 

You are going to have a blast, this has brought back a lot of great memories.

 

 

 

Scotland 2017 is our third "Once in a lifetime" trip ....Scotland 2011...Ireland 2014....Scotland 2017.....Then Bandon 201? will be the 4th "Once in a lifetime" trip

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I made myself some notes in the event I ever take another overseas golf trip again. Here are those notes.

 

1) Consider NOT playing day 1. Far too much uncertainly with travel. Settle in, rest, release the travel stresses and maybe see some sites. Airline delays can cause many, many issues. You may not have clubs, you may have had zero sleep and you may miss your pre-paid tee time or be forced to play in a zombie state of mind.

 

2) Get a light weight carry bag and get in walking shape. Although it may be reported that the courses are "designed to walk", mounds, dunes, etc... are all hills according to your body and a 6,200-6,400 yd course is still a 6,200-6,400 yd courses and you will be walking and carrying your bag.

 

3) Consider a pull/push cart at least some of the time. Bring a bungee cord. The rented push/pull carts may have well worn straps and make sure the brake works before you head out with it or your bag may wind up in a berm. Trust me on this, I know. Electric pull/push carts are available to rent but far more expensive than the push/pull carts.

 

4) Consider taking a short set. I left my 4 hybrid at home and choked down on my 3 hybrid when I needed the 4. I should have left my 60* at home. You'll need bounce on your wedge to get out of these bunkers but bounce is bad everywhere else. The fairways in Scotland are tight. I used my SW and left my 60* in the hotel.

 

5) Take plenty of balls as you may lose many. Very tall, thick grass. Go cheap. High spin, high cost balls and 60* wedges have little value when the play is to putt from 0- 80 yds or more in. I putted one from almost 100 yds out. You are very unlikely to use a wedge from less than 80 out.

 

6) Get a currency app on your phone. It is easy to think of a pound as a dollar but it is not. Check to see what you are actually paying. The conversion at the time of my trip was 1.64 dollars to 1 pound. 20 lbs = $33 and some change.

 

7) Get a no foreign transaction fee credit card and pin #. It is cheaper to get money from the ATM (3%) than to convert cash (8-12%). Call your credit card company before you leave or it may get shut off. A chip in your CC is not necessary.

 

8) Take less clothes than you think. The sandy soil falls right off and the wind dries everything out very fast. With today's modern fabrics, simply rinse out and hang dry as needed --- it really won't be needed. Two pair of pants for the course and a pair of jeans or two for off the course will do. Honestly, nothing anyone wore ever looked dirty despite the wind/rain and bunkers.

 

9) High quality rain gear including rain golf gloves and waterproof golf shoes are a must. Take a waterproof hat with a tie down strap. I took two pair of golf shoes for golf and only needed one. No shorts were worn by anyone the week we went (mid-Aug, 2014).

 

10) Attitude is everything. When the game goes south or the weather is bad, concentrate on the sights where you are. You can ruin your trip very quickly if you let the weather and/or your golf game drive your attitude.

 

11) Consider taking a day off from golf in the middle for site seeing. It may help the body recover.

 

12) Don't be afraid to mix it up if people are struggling with their games. Consider a mid-week Shamble or Scramble. We did a one day shamble to "mostly" take the tee ball out of play. A shamble is when all tee off and you play from the best tee ball position but play your own ball in the rest of the way.

 

13) Afternoon/late tee times and lack of transportation may make it difficult to see the sites. Consider early tee times.

 

14) If you are in a group and renting a vehicle, be sure to consider trunk space as a hard golf travel case may not fit in the trunk. If you use a travel service to set up your golf and transportation, you may need additional transportation to see the sites.

 

15) You'll need a 3 prong 240v adapter to charge your electronics. Most electronics are set up for 120/240 so you will not need a full scale adapter. I got mine for $11 at RadioShack. By the way, electronics charge much faster with 240v than 120v.

 

16) Consider leaving the laptop at home and just use your smart phone. I took my tablet and never really used it although a downloaded movie or two for the plane ride would be nice.

 

17) Set up your cell service by calling your provider before you leave. Be aware of the costs associated with using it. Using your smart phone or tablet to FaceTime your family may be your best means of contact.

 

18) Less is more when packing and attitude is everything. Stay positive and enjoy the sites.

 

19) Take a caddy at St Andrews. The stories he will tell as he gives you the names of the bunkers and the history make it well worth it. Besides that, you will have no clue as to where to hit your tee shots and listen to him on the greens. We got one caddy for the group and all tipped him.

 

20) Stick to safe food choices. I like to try new stuff as much as anyone but why risk losing a day to an upset stomach or worse.

 

21) Go back and re-read #8 and #18. Take less than you think you will need.

 

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Why not play muirfield twice? and stay there for lunch.

 

The castle can be quite draining, it's hilly and difficult. You could be tiring by the back nine on the old, I wouldn't want that to take way from a one time round on the Old. I would suggest the new if you really want 36 holes. or walk the old first and take some photos.

 

In St Andrews, try either fish and chip shop on market street, way better than anything you'll get in a pub/restaurant. The balaka and the Adamson are also good.

 

In may I would probably play in shorts and waterproof trousers, the weather will be changeable and that combo copes well with most.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just an update mid trip. Thank you to all for the suggestions and tips. To date we have played Cruden Bay, Kingsbarn,North Berwick, Old Course and Carnoustie.

 

Carnoustie is an absolute beast. We played with a 28mph wind today, course was very difficult but had an awesome time. To a man North Berwick is the favorite so far. The Old Course is ranking last with our group with the consensus being you are paying for hole 1,11,17 and 18. The rest of the course is bland, but at least we played the Old Course. We actually have it booked for Friday, but 2 of us who already played it are seeing if we can get a refund and go play North Berwick again.

 

The area of the old course at tee off and 18th is awesome, So many people, great bars and restaurants, we have been to Dunvegans 3 times for drinks, great hangout before dinner,

 

Best meal so far...Lobster Shack in North Berwick. We had lobster and mussels sitting outside overlooking the ocean. Incredible view, incredible food.

 

not lying here. 7 days not one drop of rain. Forecast is no rain till Monday. We leave Sunday, guess I'll use the Galvin suit back home. Plan on a full report when I get back home. This is must for anyone thinking about a golf vacation

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I have a trip in 2017 that includes North Berwick and Muirfiled but we may get bumped from Gullane because of a tournament. Any other suggestions in that area? We will be staying in Edinburgh.

 

Luff Ness New in Gullane is under the radar, but very good. Lunch after the round is a must. Another under the radar is Kilspindie. It does not look like much on the scorecard, but is incredibly pure and fun. Play some hickories at Musselburgh on the way back to Edinburgh too.

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Just an update mid trip. Thank you to all for the suggestions and tips. To date we have played Cruden Bay, Kingsbarn,North Berwick, Old Course and Carnoustie.

 

Carnoustie is an absolute beast. We played with a 28mph wind today, course was very difficult but had an awesome time. To a man North Berwick is the favorite so far. The Old Course is ranking last with our group with the consensus being you are paying for hole 1,11,17 and 18. The rest of the course is bland, but at least we played the Old Course. We actually have it booked for Friday, but 2 of us who already played it are seeing if we can get a refund and go play North Berwick again.

 

The area of the old course at tee off and 18th is awesome, So many people, great bars and restaurants, we have been to Dunvegans 3 times for drinks, great hangout before dinner,

 

Best meal so far...Lobster Shack in North Berwick. We had lobster and mussels sitting outside overlooking the ocean. Incredible view, incredible food.

 

not lying here. 7 days not one drop of rain. Forecast is no rain till Monday. We leave Sunday, guess I'll use the Galvin suit back home. Plan on a full report when I get back home. This is must for anyone thinking about a golf vacation

 

Dunvegans?: don't take any bullcrap from Lindsey :)

 

(We just got back. Stayed the entire trip in St. Andrews and loved it.)

 

Hope the rest of the trip goes well for you.

Best,

Mark

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