Top 10 items to bring on a golf vacation to Scotland
Don't forget to pack the essentials for your next Scottish golf trip! Check out our top tips...
You’ve booked your flights, organised a hotel and secured those all-important tee times for your forthcoming golf vacation to Scotland. All that remains is to firstly retain your excitement, and secondly to pack your bags. Scotland is a small country that can be extremely unpredictable, particularly when it comes to the weather. That has to be a paramount focus in your preparations, in addition to the various golfing and day to day items that you’ll need to make Scottish golf trip experience as smooth and as satisfying as possible. Here are just a few important things to consider.
1. Handicap certificate
It would be the nightmare scenario; after having secured a precious tee-time on the legendary Old Course at St. Andrews, or the noble championship links at Carnoustie, that you wouldn’t be allowed to play. That may sound extreme and unlikely, but it can happen if you don’t provide a valid handicap certificate.
In the past many Open Rota courses were quite flexible with their policies, but with the number of visitors they now receive each year, regulations have become much stricter. The St. Andrews Links Trust would steadfastly prohibit you from playing if a valid certificate wasn’t provided. Handicap limits are generally 24 for men and 28 for women, so ensure that you have that accreditation. It is your key to the legendary courses of Scotland.
2. Driver’s license
This is absolutely vital if you are planning on travelling around the country during your stay. Scotland may be a geographically miniscule country in comparison to the United States or Canada, but some of the greatest and most attractive courses are separated by a significant distance. As an example, Turnberry and St. Andrews are more than 120 miles apart.
There is a wide-ranging and extensive public transport system, with excellent rail and bus networks connecting most of the landscape, but it would perhaps be more prudent to hire a car. That is simple to organise at airports on arrival, but ensure that your designated driver is confident and has a flexible sense of direction, as there is the added complication of the fact that we drive on the left hand side of the road over here!
3. Rain gear and umbrellas
You may not believe this fact – but it can rain a lot in Scotland. Though the weather isn’t anywhere near as bad (honestly, it’s not) as people often suggest, packing quality rain gear is about as obvious a plan as ensuring your passport is valid. Oh, and while we’re here, don’t forget to do that as well!
A high quality umbrella – one that can withstand the worst meteorological conditions – is something else to consider, but also be prepared for the weather potentially being wonderful.
It can become pleasantly warm and dry throughout summer, with many visitors being fortunate enough to experience those ideal conditions. However, think of packing bad weather gear as being the equivalent of playing a provisional ball. It’s a simple insurance policy that can make all the difference.
4. Aspirin (and other medications)
With some potential late nights and some (considerable) alcoholic consumption, there is the slight chance that you might not quite be at your best when standing on the first tee of some courses on your trip. Therefore, in order to fend off the attacks of a regrettable hangover, it might just be sensible to bring some Aspirin. It could be a lifesaver.
On a wider note, it is worth remembering that some medications have different names in the United Kingdom, and many of the drugs that you can buy over the counter at home may only be available by prescription on this side of the pond. Something to consider. Be prepared!
5. Lip balm
If you are battling the elements on a traditional seaside course, with the breeze howling and the sun beating down mercilessly from above, your skin is going to be put under a lot of stress. That is why the aforementioned moisturiser is such a crucial item to pack. However, it would be careless to ignore the potential plight of your lips, which could also become arid after a few days of golf in Scotland.
Speaking from experience, crusty lips aren’t particularly attractive to look at. They can also sour the experience of consuming a wee dram of Scotch or an ample portion of Haggis. In order to avoid that undesirable fate, ensure that some lip balm is included on your itinerary.
6. Golf GPS software
It may seem like heresy to use the most contemporary technology to assist your game in the nation where the sport was born, but GPS applications can be so useful when playing courses for the first time, particularly ones that possess a number of hidden hazards, which is commonplace on a links.
Although caddies are often available (particularly on the marquee courses ) and detailed guides also being on offer at many venues, having pre-installed GPS software on your phone may be a cost effective or alternative way of attaining that on-course information.
That said, if you can afford to do so, hire a caddie when you can. In addition to offering a wealth of golfing knowledge, they can also be gifted raconteurs – offering stories of famous clients, local events, and maybe even tales of the sordid activities of their brethren in the evening.
7. Moisturiser and sun cream
This is particularly important for those who are dermatologically proactive. After potentially spending five hours on a golf course battling strong winds (or enjoying bright sunshine), your skin is going to be pretty dry.
If you wish to avoid your face resembling a sturdy form of leather, then it would be a shrewd idea to pack some moisturising products. It can surely be agreed by most people that it’s best not to look like Mickey Rourke, so ensure that your face is protected in order to escape that traumatic destiny.
8. Plug adaptors
If you are packing electrical devices, don’t forget to include some plug adaptors to ensure that they will work with the British standards. This is certainly important when it comes to cell phone chargers and hair straighteners, and it is worth investigating before coming over.
Although the electrical system in the UK has been largely harmonised with the continental nations within the European Union, there are some important differences that – unless you are a NASA electrical engineer – may prove to be problematic when trying to use certain items.
9. Quality camera
This may not seem a necessity these days with the standard of images that can now be taken on cell phones and tablet devices, however it would be remiss not to bring along a quality camera with you as Scotland is a beautifully scenic country with a rich and vivid history.
From the breathtaking grandeur of the Highlands to the unrivalled tranquillity of Loch Ness, or even the majestic architecture of Edinburgh, there is much to see. It would be unfortunate not to properly capture those vistas and landmarks on order to share them with friends and family back home.
10. Leave some space
There is unquestionably much to pack for a golf trip to Scotland, but try to keep the less essential items to a minimum. Underwear is a necessity, however, even in the UK, so include enough of them.
With so many potential souvenirs and a plethora of branded merchandise available at all of the major courses and visitor attractions throughout the country, you might become overwhelmed with the urge to spend vast sums of money on a never ending selection of items. Although a welcome boost to the local economy, and a delight for anyone you’re buying gifts for, it could also stretch the limits of your luggage capacity, so it is important to leave some space!
Now you know what to bring on a golf vacation to Scotland, it is time to start planning it! Contact our travel experts at Golfbreaks; let us do the work and save you money.
Senior Golf Vacation Specialist - UK & Ireland
Senior Golf Vacation Specialist, I help golfers find their ideal golfing getaway