10 tips for planning a UK & Ireland golf vacation
Our experts provide the ultimate guide to planning the perfect trip across the pond, including how to plan your route, what clothes to pack, and how currency works.
If you’re a golf enthusiast and enjoy the history of the game, then the UK and Ireland must be high up on your bucket list. Scotland and Ireland both have an incredible quality and quantity of golf courses, with awe-inspiring, natural layouts that date back over 100 years.
To help ease the process of your trip across the pond, we have put together 10 tips for planning the perfect UK golf vacation.
1. Know your seasons
Understanding the UK & Ireland's seasonality is a very important part of planning your trip. You’ll find the best weather from mid-May to mid-September, with these months typically being classed as the 'high season'. However, you can also get lucky and score some fabulous weather in the 'shoulder months' of April and October. The green fees are typically a lot cheaper in the Spring or Fall, so you will save yourself some money and you will also be rewarded with quieter golf courses.
2. Plan in advance
We would recommend booking at least 6 months in advance to ensure that there are still tee times available at the courses that you want to play and rooms at the hotels where you want to stay (plus the flights will be cheaper).
Should you wish to play Open Championship venues or the highest-ranked links courses then you should extend that timeframe to about a year in advance to ensure tee time availability. If the Old Course at St Andrews is on your wish list, then such is the demand, you would be advised to book up to 18 months in advance!
3. Unearth the gems
Remember to mix a few hidden gems into your golf schedule to sit alongside the signature and renowned courses. As well as representing great value for money and reducing the cost of your trip, these courses will also enhance your golfing experience by playing some amazing, off the beaten track, traditional links courses, whilst enjoying wonderful hospitality from the clubs and their members.
4. Study your route
Take some time studying the map whilst planning your trip as having some insight into the geography of the destination will allow you to see the available possibilities. For example, many people do not realize how easy it is to combine a trip to Northern Ireland with a stay in Dublin. And did you know that you can drive from St Andrews on the east coast of Scotland to Turnberry on the west coast in less than 2.5 hours?
Furthermore, Stranraer on the west coast of Scotland is connected to Belfast in Northern Ireland by a 2.5-hour ferry ride, giving you access to Royal Portrush, Royal County Down, and a sumptuous list of other Top 100 Irish links courses!
5. Talk to us, the Golf Travel Experts
Here at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, we have over 20 years of experience and knowledge about the various destinations in the UK & Ireland. We can recommend an itinerary based on your budget and golf requirements, as well as provide advice on the best places to eat and go out. We can also save you hours of time in researching and booking hotels, tee times, ground transportation, and flights, and will give you the inside track on where to play.
At Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, we can save you money compared to you self-packaging your trip. We book hundreds of thousands of golfers every year into golf destinations and therefore secure very good rates from the golf courses and hotels that we work with, which we then pass on to our customers.
6. Consider caddies
Caddies can often provide a unique or added experience to your round of golf. In fact, they are your key to unlocking the secrets of the game's most historic courses. They are able to point you in the right direction when there is no obvious line to take, spot hidden bunkers, or inform you of the subtleties of links golf and the potential effects of a strong wind on a particular shot.
Fortunately, they are available at the majority of better-known courses, but need to be requested in advance; either through contacting us at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, or the caddie master at each course. Payment for caddies is typically made after the round in cash with gratuities recommended.
7. Be prepared to walk
The majority of links courses across the UK & Ireland do not have golf carts available to rent (they are usually only available for golfers with medical conditions). This is where caddies can be very useful, or you can simply carry your own bag or take a pull-cart. If a golf cart is a necessity, then a note from your doctor is often requested by the golf clubs and should be done well in advance.
8. Bring the right clothing
It has been known to rain in the UK (just sometimes!), so it is essential that you pack some good quality waterproofs should you encounter any wet weather coming in off the North Sea, Irish Sea or Atlantic.
You may even want to pack a spare pair of golf shoes in case you are playing back-to-back rounds and get caught in a shower. One further consideration is to pack a tie; you never know when you might get an invite to the members’ bar at a traditional club... or even an invite to St Andrews Links Clubhouse from an R&A member.
9. To drive or be driven
If you want the freedom to explore new places and be in control of where you go, then renting a car is the option for you. It is typically also the cheapest option. Take note however that the UK & Ireland drive on the left and the roads to the course might not be that well sign-posted. Also make sure that you hire a car large enough to take all your bags and clubs, such as a large estate, MPV or small van.
The more regal option is to hire a chauffeur driven mini-bus; you’ll get to every location on time, and be able to enjoy a post round dram and a snooze on the way home. If you are lucky you’ll also hear some great stories and a bit of local culture from your much-travelled driver. The chauffeur service will cost more, but it is well worth paying for. The last option is to take taxis everywhere, but the price could soon add up and you are left with having to book cabs everywhere you go.
10. Check the currency
Take a moment before you travel to understand the currencies you will need for the trip. USD ($) is not an accepted currency in the UK or Ireland so you will need the appropriate fare. The UK, which is made up of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, use the GBP (£) whereas the Republic of Ireland uses the EURO (€). A prime example of where this knowledge comes in handy is for the groups doing combo trips including Northern Ireland and Dublin in the Republic of Ireland where you will need to have two sets of currency on you. Naturally, credit cards are widely accepted in all countries.
Senior Golf Vacation Specialist - UK & Ireland
Senior Golf Vacation Specialist, I help golfers find their ideal golfing getaway