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I have been looking to schedule more golf travel vacations for my dad and I. My first trip was to Scotland. When I first started to plan the trip it was a little overwhelming with options and different providers. Some that could guarantee a tee time at St. Andrews Old Course and some that somewhat guaranteed but you weren't sure. I was fortunate enough to work with a great tour operator, St. Andrews Golf Travel. The two principals, Mark Gentles and Graeme Dawson, were fantastic and provided white glove service and an experience that made you want to go back as often as possible. I realized that I couldn't have been the only one who started off struggling with finding a good tour operator and wanted to spread the word about my great experience with St. Andrews Golf Travel so others could have as easy a time booking a memorable vacation. What golf trips have you planned and who did you use as a tour operator? Share your experiences so other golf enthusiasts can take advantage of great service. I recommend St. Andrews Golf Travel to anyone I know interested in a UK golf vacation. Who would you recommend to others? Love to see a sharing of service providers for great golf destinations. 

Philip Richards 

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17 hours ago, Philip Richards said:

I have been looking to schedule more golf travel vacations for my dad and I. My first trip was to Scotland. When I first started to plan the trip it was a little overwhelming with options and different providers. Some that could guarantee a tee time at St. Andrews Old Course and some that somewhat guaranteed but you weren't sure. I was fortunate enough to work with a great tour operator, St. Andrews Golf Travel. The two principals, Mark Gentles and Graeme Dawson, were fantastic and provided white glove service and an experience that made you want to go back as often as possible. I realized that I couldn't have been the only one who started off struggling with finding a good tour operator and wanted to spread the word about my great experience with St. Andrews Golf Travel so others could have as easy a time booking a memorable vacation. What golf trips have you planned and who did you use as a tour operator? Share your experiences so other golf enthusiasts can take advantage of great service. I recommend St. Andrews Golf Travel to anyone I know interested in a UK golf vacation. Who would you recommend to others? Love to see a sharing of service providers for great golf destinations. 

Anyone planning a trip to Scotland or Ireland, I would highly suggest that you check out Ferguson Golf. I have a link below and he has published several books on how to book your own trip. Mr. Ferguson helped our 3 couples plan a trip to Scotland back in 1999. I don't think he plans trips any longer, but has tons of information available.

http://fergusongolf.com/

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It's all about the budget....Yea, If you absolutely have to play the Old and have no problem ponying up multiples of the actual cost...By all means use a tour operator connected to St Andrews....St  Andrews courses are muni's...They have manipulated the process by selling much of their allotted Old tee times to a BS system. Want a tee time to Carnoustie...Go online, click a button and bing Ya got it....Want a tee time at Muirfield...Same thing....But the Old...What a pile of crap to deal with. The system is getting better.....but for so long they were thieves. I have made many trips over there. First time I went I used a tour operator. Had a chat with several people at the hotels I stayed at...Owners...and they said Why didn't you book direct, the cost would be 1/2.....and hence I have since...I'll be in St Andrews next August. 8 of us. Have an apt booked for the week. Playing New/Castle/Kingsbarns twice/Carnoustie/Dumbarnie/North Berwick....bus/to/from and day up to Carnoustie, lodging/all golf...$2700 a head for week.  Go get a quote from a tour operator and see what that costs...Ferguson golf is excellent for the do it yourselfer, get his book...I did.

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On 12/5/2020 at 9:58 PM, Philip Richards said:

Who would you recommend to others? Love to see a sharing of service providers for great golf destinations. 

I've planned two trips to Scotland and two to Ireland, every one planned on my own.  For each of the Scotland trips, I went through the Advanced Reservation system to get guaranteed tee times on the Old Course, and arranged all of the other tee times directly with the courses.  We drove ourselves, its not that difficult.  We stayed in B&Bs, much less expensive than hotels.  I agree with the others, get Ferguson's book.  Even if you go through a tour operator, you'll have some better information to work with in customizing your trip.  

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Having had the Covid cancellation to the 2020 Scottish trip. Also had another week as solo before the buds arrived. So overall I had 15 clubs I was interacting with regarding cancelling and rebooking. Every club...Every...Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, Dumbarnie, Elie, Leven, North Berwick, Panmure, Royal Aberdeen, Trump Aberdeen, Cruden Bay, Castle Stuart, Royal Dornoch, Brora...They all responded in 24 hours and were a delight to deal with. St Andrews booking...They responded quickly to tell me they would respond back in two months. Fast forward two months...And I ask what's up. They respond curtly...We are going as fast as we can we are managing 7 golf clubs...Well excuse me. Who organizes a tee time far in advance on Eden or Balgrove or Strathtyrum......Uh, Nobody. So why does it take them months to respond whereas everyone else responds so quickly. The Old and all the behind the scenes dirty deals...Unraveling all of the secretive stuff takes time. So ya wanna go to Scotland, every place other than the Old is easy to arrange. Ireland, well every place is easy. The Old...Yea, like Dave so elliquently described...you write in their opening window, they write back a month later, and mean time all the other places you wanted to set up are filling their tee sheets and you will be left with the Old dictating your schedule. So as Philip has pointed out...Easy peasy with a tour operator who has paid off the R&A for Old times. Just dig deep, smile and continue on. Oh, Do you have plans for a 2021 Scottish trip....Well no new offerings of tee times. 2020 rollovers and that's it. Fresh from their website....As a consequence of the ongoing pandemic, a large number of tee times from 2020 have been rescheduled for next year. In light of this, we are currently considering options for 2021 Old Course tee time applications. Further information will be made available here in the near future.

Meantime all the other clubs have had their tee sheets open and are full at the peak times....Nice work St Andrews..... 

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1 hour ago, Flog4 said:

The Old and all the behind the scenes dirty deals...Unraveling all of the secretive stuff takes time.

I wouldn't call any of this "dirty dealing".  They have the single biggest attraction in golf, and they make deals for the best of the golf operations as a whole.  Yes, they sell tee times to booking agents, they also allocate tee times to many of the hotels and other lodgings in the town.  They also do an advance booking for the following year, with the greens fees kept pretty dang low, when compared with places like Pinehurst or Whistling Straits, or even Kingsbarns just down the road.  They ALSO reserve a significant number of tee times for the Ballot (2 days in advance) and further have a mechanism to allow walk-up play.  They could easily sell every single tee time at a much higher price to all of the booking operators, yet they choose not to do that.  

In my experience, the St Andrews folks always responded quickly and politely to every enquiry I sent.  And yes, I had to wait until the end of October (if I remember right) to make all of the other arrangements for my group, but I had absolutely no problem doing that.  

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34 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

I wouldn't call any of this "dirty dealing".  They have the single biggest attraction in golf, and they make deals for the best of the golf operations as a whole.  Yes, they sell tee times to booking agents, they also allocate tee times to many of the hotels and other lodgings in the town.  They also do an advance booking for the following year, with the greens fees kept pretty dang low, when compared with places like Pinehurst or Whistling Straits, or even Kingsbarns just down the road.  They ALSO reserve a significant number of tee times for the Ballot (2 days in advance) and further have a mechanism to allow walk-up play.  They could easily sell every single tee time at a much higher price to all of the booking operators, yet they choose not to do that.  

In my experience, the St Andrews folks always responded quickly and politely to every enquiry I sent.  And yes, I had to wait until the end of October (if I remember right) to make all of the other arrangements for my group, but I had absolutely no problem doing that.  

Dave, I get where you are coming from.  St Andrews has changed their access methodologies. Their Old Course Experience was a sham and has been terminated. My views of dirty dealing are past tense as they have already made changes.  The golf world doesn't hang out their dirty laundry so to get the real story you need to chat with those who have been in the process. The places you mention are privately owned. Wanna play you reach out and book. St Andrews is municipally owned. The system seems appropriate to most and it is getting better but for some time they had dealings which were inappropriate for a municipally run platform.  

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3 hours ago, Flog4 said:

Article was written in 2015?

When we went to Scotland, we didn't even have a tee time as advised by ALLAN McALLISTER FERGUSON. We got on the ballot when arriving in Scotland and were selected after on second day. There are tons of excellent courses in Scotland, don't get all worked up on the Old Course.

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3 hours ago, GaDawg said:

Article was written in 2015?

When we went to Scotland, we didn't even have a tee time as advised by ALLAN McALLISTER FERGUSON. We got on the ballot when arriving in Scotland and were selected after on second day. There are tons of excellent courses in Scotland, don't get all worked up on the Old Course.

Dog, The point of the post was that for 2 decades....There was a messed up system.  Written 2015 applicable to 2018 changes...hence I said it already happened. Allan has a revised edition coming out, he just sent a note regarding it. Guess you didn't get that note.  But then again if you haven't engaged with him since 1999.............................

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10 hours ago, Flog4 said:

Dog, The point of the post was that for 2 decades....There was a messed up system.  Written 2015 applicable to 2018 changes...hence I said it already happened. Allan has a revised edition coming out, he just sent a note regarding it. Guess you didn't get that note.  But then again if you haven't engaged with him since 1999.............................

I receive all of Alan's email notifications and have a very good idea of what it takes to get tee times in Scotland and Ireland. I am good to go! 😀

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55 minutes ago, GaDawg said:

I receive all of Alan's email notifications and have a very good idea of what it takes to get tee times in Scotland and Ireland. I am good to go! 😀

Dog, Good to know. Hope you get back there soon.

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11 hours ago, Flog4 said:

Dog, The point of the post was that for 2 decades....There was a messed up system.  Written 2015 applicable to 2018 changes...hence I said it already happened. Allan has a revised edition coming out, he just sent a note regarding it. Guess you didn't get that note.  But then again if you haven't engaged with him since 1999.............................

Here's my problem with your post, its the end of 2020, and you're complaining about policies that were changed more than two years ago.  And even with those "dirty dealings" the old system worked pretty well for lots and lots of golfers.   Its unfair and inappropriate to vilify St Andrews now based on those old policies. 

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3 hours ago, DaveP043 said:

Here's my problem with your post, its the end of 2020, and you're complaining about policies that were changed more than two years ago.  And even with those "dirty dealings" the old system worked pretty well for lots and lots of golfers.   Its unfair and inappropriate to vilify St Andrews now based on those old policies. 

I vilified St Andrews based on my dealings this year and at present. Read my post. You jumped in and based on your past dealings which haven't been any time soon propositioned that the service was just peachy. I then responded with the reasons why the golf world of tour operators had issues with the past dealings of St Andrews. So quite candidly, I take exception to a Dog complaining about a write up of 2015 eff 2018 from his one visit in 1999....and you well, you have been twice....I have made vast multiples of that many trips. But we know oh so well....You know how to set up a trip...Bravo. You and Dog should go together. 

 

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Hopefully by the summer you will be able to freely travel around Scotland COVID free. We have just come out of Tier 3/4 travel restrictions which meant you couldn't travel outside our council area (county) for the last 4 weeks.

If anyone is looking for a game at a good parkland course when they are over give me a shout and I'll take you on to West Lothian GC as my guest. We are about 20 minutes outside Edinburgh with views up and down the River Forth and the Firth of Forth estuary. This is the view across to Fife from the putting green. If you look closely you can just see the flag on the 18th at St Andrews in the distance 😉

IMG_4874.JPEG.3fd0b1df446bd5fd3caf4a384d1eca2b.JPEG

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3 hours ago, Flog4 said:

I vilified St Andrews based on my dealings this year and at present. Read my post. You jumped in and based on your past dealings which haven't been any time soon propositioned that the service was just peachy. I then responded with the reasons why the golf world of tour operators had issues with the past dealings of St Andrews. So quite candidly, I take exception to a Dog complaining about a write up of 2015 eff 2018 from his one visit in 1999....and you well, you have been twice....I have made vast multiples of that many trips. But we know oh so well....You know how to set up a trip...Bravo. You and Dog should go together. 

 

Sir, you seem to have a negative attitude towards your past experience regarding St. Andrews. I don't think that's going to change! I would love to head across the pond with Dave, he seems to enjoy golf and I am sure we would have a blast.

No need to respond, I already see that you and I will never agree. Hopefully, between now and Christmas you will find some enjoyment in your life.

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1 hour ago, Alf. S said:

Hopefully by the summer you will be able to freely travel around Scotland COVID free. We have just come out of Tier 3/4 travel restrictions which meant you couldn't travel outside our council area (county) for the last 4 weeks.

If anyone is looking for a game at a good parkland course when they are over give me a shout and I'll take you on to West Lothian GC as my guest. We are about 20 minutes outside Edinburgh with views up and down the River Forth and the Firth of Forth estuary. This is the view across to Fife from the putting green. If you look closely you can just see the flag on the 18th at St Andrews in the distance 😉

IMG_4874.JPEG.3fd0b1df446bd5fd3caf4a384d1eca2b.JPEG

I plan on returning back to your area within the next 18 months. My wife loved Edinburgh and we would be staying there for a couple of days. I would love to try and hit the links with you if you are up for that.

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12 hours ago, GaDawg said:

Sir, you seem to have a negative attitude towards your past experience regarding St. Andrews. I don't think that's going to change! I would love to head across the pond with Dave, he seems to enjoy golf and I am sure we would have a blast.

No need to respond, I already see that you and I will never agree. Hopefully, between now and Christmas you will find some enjoyment in your life.

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On 12/8/2020 at 10:48 PM, Alf. S said:

Hopefully by the summer you will be able to freely travel around Scotland COVID free. We have just come out of Tier 3/4 travel restrictions which meant you couldn't travel outside our council area (county) for the last 4 weeks.

If anyone is looking for a game at a good parkland course when they are over give me a shout and I'll take you on to West Lothian GC as my guest. We are about 20 minutes outside Edinburgh with views up and down the River Forth and the Firth of Forth estuary. This is the view across to Fife from the putting green. If you look closely you can just see the flag on the 18th at St Andrews in the distance 😉

IMG_4874.JPEG.3fd0b1df446bd5fd3caf4a384d1eca2b.JPEG

I played West Lothian many years ago with some friends as they had a practice round for their PGA playability test. Really enjoyed the course and intend to go back there. I remember some very tight holes and one I think think mid back 9 that had a cliff face to hit over to a green. 

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