Thinking about making a golf trip to the British Isles? Good choice. It’s commonly considered the birthplace of the game and stands as one of the greatest golf regions in the world. For many Americans it’s a dream golf trip that happens once in a lifetime. It can be unforgettable, if done the right way.
Gordon Dalgleish, president of PerryGolf -- which specializes in organizing golf trips to various regions of the world -- gave us some tips on what to know before you go.
5. Weather is weather
Weather is the concern for vacations anywhere, but in the British Isles, it can be a completely different beast. “The summer in the British Isles is changeable,” Dalgleish said. “You can basically experience just about four seasons in one day.”
Like the Midwestern U.S., the golf season runs from early May through October. The weather might be less consistent, though. “The likelihood if you go over for a week is you’ll probably get some rain, you’ll get some sun, you’ll get some warmer and some colder,” Dalgleish said. In other words, be ready for anything.
4. Your easiest drive could be on the other side of the road
Crossing the pond means crossing the centerline on the road, too. That kind of change can be nerve-wracking, especially in a rental car. However, on this golf trip the roads shouldn’t be too much of a worry.
“It’s not as intimidating as you might believe,” Dalgleish said. “Once you’re in a car and you’re the fella closest to the center line, you’re probably not going to cross the line.”
Dalgleish says the routes that connect the most popular courses are relatively light on traffic. So actually, this new driving experience might be more enjoyable than you think.
3. Accessibility is in the cards, but you’ve got to play them correctly
Getting over to the British Isles might seem like the toughest part of the trip, but once you’re there, getting on the courses might be the trickiest.
“You can play all of the golf courses,” Dalgleish said. “But each of them have their own unique rules and nuances, which requires some level of thought and knowledge in advance.”
Some courses are private, but accept play 2-3 days each week. Others are resort style, where anyone is allowed to play, but hotel guests take precedence. And others, like St. Andrews, are public, which is a beautiful thing, but demand far outweighs supply.
It takes a diligent planner to compile an itinerary from Course A to Course B to Course C. But if done correctly, you can hit all the best spots.
2. Golf is different
There’s a reason people flock to the British Isles for golf; it’s different than pretty much anything they’ll find in America. Hence, it calls for different strategy on the fairways.
“I would generally encourage someone, if they’ve got the time to do it, figure out how to hit the ball lower than they need to and figure out how to keep the ball on the ground when they need to,” Dalgleish said.
Wind is a not a sporadic visitor over there; it’s a consistent theme that comes with the territory. If you have a hard time battling the breeze, it could make for a difficult week.
“I was with some friends last summer over there, and this one fella had a miserable, big ol’ cut,“ Dalgleish said. “It was really quite painful to watch.”
1. Communication is key
Balancing a group of people, especially friends, and their varying agendas can be a thankless task. In order to keep things smooth among your comrades, make sure everyone is aware of what they’re getting into.
“The biggest impediment is that not everyone is on the same page with expectations,” Dalgleish said. “You can have four guys that travel together, and one of them is happy to buy a $400 bottle of wine while another fella chokes on a $6 glass.
“There’s nothing wrong with that…if you go into a hotel and you’re expecting the Ritz-Carlton and you get Motel 6, you’re disappointed. It’s just all about expectations.”