Tour the ruins of the Castle and the Cathedral, stroll the lovely streets in the quaint village, eat lunch at the St Andrews Links Trust and return to the Fairmont St. Andrews on the outskirts to absorb a scintillating sunset and majestic view of the town.
Then again, there are many other ways to enjoy the Home of Golf.
Taking the time to tour one of the local distilleries is a fascinating experience that will reveal the method, nuance, time and skill required to craft world-class whisky, beer or, even gin.
About three miles northwest of St. Andrews is Eden Mill, Scotland’s first single site brewery and distillery. The Haig Family made spirits on the property throughout the 19th century, and current ownership revived operations in 2012.
Eden Mill combines an excellent water source to an outstanding, experienced international team of distillers, producing a palate pleasing product that aims to be the world’s best small batch single malt whisky.
While Eden Mill is an obvious starting point for a guest wanting to learn more about the fabric and backbone of Scotland, there are other options available near St. Andrews. On a summer day, delight in a refreshing gin-and-tonic produced in a farm cottage near Kingsbarns by brother-and-sister team William and Isabella Wemyss, proprietors of Darnley’s Gin. What makes their product unique? They say it best …
We handcraft Darnley’s Original Gin using a combination of 6 botanicals including elderflower, coriander and lemon peel to create a classic juniper led gin that is smooth and elegant with fresh citrus and floral flavour.
St Andrews is undoubtedly the home of golf – spiritual and physical – and nearby Lindores Abbey Distillery claims the title of ‘spiritual home of Scottish whisky. While you’ll have to wait until 2023 to sample the first run of the product, which was stored in Woodford Reserve and Old Forester bourbon barrels in 2017, it’s a fascinating trip to this 12th Century abbey and neighboring farm where whisky production dates to 1494 and King James IV.
After a 523-year hiatus, Drew MacDonald restored whisky production. Attention fans of the 1995 hit movie “Braveheart” or history buffs: William Wallace rested in Lindores Abbey after The Battle of Black Earnside in 1298 and the ruins are also open to the public.
PerryGolf’s Concierge Drivers play an essential part in any Customized or Escorted Tour. They fill many roles during your trip abroad – from recommending restaurants to sharing nuggets of local history and culture while also making certain every part of the Tour from the airport to the hotel to the first tee runs smoothly on schedule. This post is the second in anongoing series, during which we’ll profile the devoted, diligent Concierge Drivers who help PerryGolf guests: Play the Game. See the World.
Angus McIntosh didn’t anticipate embarking on a second career as a PerryGolf Concierge Driver and Cruise host. Now, a decade into these roles, he finds it difficult to imagine life without the guests met and tours led.
A native of Islay, Scotland, McIntosh spent 30 years as a Police Inspector in Glasgow and the town of Oban, on the country’s west coast. Upon retirement at age 48, he filled his days in the usual manner, spending time with his family and playing rounds of golf at The Bishopbriggs Golf Club – which he joined at age 10, and where today he resides 400 yards away from the clubhouse. One day after a round, he became aware of PerryGolf during a conversation. He made contact with the company and shortly thereafter began helping on cruises and meeting guests at the airport.
“I really wasn’t looking for a job,” McIntosh said in a recent phone interview from Scotland, where he’s enjoyed the warm, dry summer. “I like the freedom to deliver each tour as what I see as my way of doing it. There’s a template in place and a generic way of doing it but the company realizes that each person is an individual and has their own way of doing it. I like to give the people a bit of general information about the places that we’re going to.”
McIntosh honed his skills dealing with people during his long, successful career on the police force. Obviously the tenor of a PerryGolf trip is much different than what’s required on the beat, but his experience making decisions and organizing large groups of people can come in handy as he shepherds guests on their journey in a safe, timely manner.
“The whole thing is about a worry-free holiday for the guests,” he said. “We’re there to push them in the right direction. As drivers, we provide a pretty unique experience, a concierge service on the road, similar to a concierge in the hotel.”
At the trip’s outset, McIntosh tries to understand the desires of a group. Perhaps it consists of four couples and they are interested in fine dining and sightseeing. Or maybe, it’s a group of eight men focused solely on the golf and unconcerned with historical landmarks or upscale restaurants. Some guests simply want to become immersed in the local community and culture during their holiday. Regardless, possessing intimate knowledge of his native land enables McIntosh to ensure their needs are met.
On a recent assignment, McIntosh led PerryGolf’s Best of Scotland Escorted Tour. He speaks fondly of the concentration of championship courses available in golf’s homeland and requiring minimal travel or transfer of accommodations. Where else, McIntosh asks, can a golfer have a game at epic links such as St. Andrews, Troon, Turnberry, Carnoustie and Prestwick in a five-day span and spend only four or five hours in transit, traveling comfortably, of course, in a PerryGolf VIP Coach.
Rightfully proud of his homeland, McIntosh loves St. Andrews, however, his favorite area is the Scottish Highlands, an area ripe with beauty and rich with mystical bucket list destinations around Inverness, such as Nairn, Cruden Bay and Royal Dornoch – which tops the list of none other than Tom Watson, five times champion of The Open.
“From a driver’s point of view it’s very picturesque and there are a couple of beautiful detours you can take if the golfers are interested,” he said. “Getting about up there is also pretty easy.”
McIntosh and PerryGolf co-founder Colin Dalgleish depart Aug. 8th on the Baltic Sea Golf Cruise. McIntosh helped host guests on PerryGolf’s first voyage to this beautiful corner of the world two years ago and looks forward to returning because of the hospitality received at Gorki GC in St. Petersburg, Russia and throughout the region. He’s proud to play a role in helping these cruises run smoothly, from shuttling clubs to the course where they await the golfers on their arrival from the ship to ensuring each golfer returns to Azamara Journey within a comfortable time frame after the round, so each can embrace the area’s sights and scenes alongside their partner or other guests.
Land or sea, tour or cruise, Scotland or Scandinavia, building relationships with PerryGolf guests remains the common thread. Like many Concierge Drivers, he remains in regular contact with guests who have become friends through regular correspondence or return trips to the U.K.
“You get to know them quite well on a personal basis and you get to be quite friendly with them,” he said. “You want them to go back and tell everybody so they send people back to our country to experience what they have as well.”
Listening to McIntosh, 58, it’s obvious he’s found the ideal occupation for this stage in life.
“If I left PerryGolf I’d probably retire properly,” he said with a laugh. “I get along well with the staff. Once you’re out on the road you’re left to your own. It’s not like they’re calling every two or three minutes to check on you. For me it’s been a great experience. It’s nothing I thought I would ever do. I’m in no great hurry to throw in the towel just now.”
The book is closed on another year of international professional golf. Once again, the world’s best golfers thrilled, inspired and amazed those of us who play the game for recreation and pleasure. Under immense pressure, they remained poised and produced incredible shots that dazzled galleries and television viewers, probably sending more than a few of us racing to the nearest driving range to try and replicate the feats we had just witnessed.
As 2017 winds to a close, it’s appropriate to reflect on some of our favorite golf shots and moments from the past 12 months. What makes our list unique is this: With assistance from PerryGolf and its experienced staff, you can walk many of these same fairways and greens next year on one of many Cruises, Escorted Tours or Custom Tours. Relish the opportunity to test your swing on holes which are forever etched in the history books due to phenomenal performances by the current crop of golf stars. Their talent transcends the game and makes them international ambassadors for the many virtues inherent to his wonderful game we love.
Jordan Spieth at Royal Birkdale
It wasn’t just that Spieth, 24, became the youngest American professional to win the Open Championship. Or that he played the final five holes in 5-under-par on Sunday after falling out of the lead for the first time all week. Or, after quite a lengthy delay and debate, he made an unbelievable bogey from the driving range on the 13th hole. It was all of those things and more – the near ace on 14, the 50-footer for Eagle on 15, the way Matt Kuchar answered Spieth’s birdies until the end – which made the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale an epic for the ages. Spieth claimed his third leg of the Grand Slam and 11th PGA Tour victory, making him the youngest player in history to accomplish such, showing indefatigable spirit and determination in his pursuit of the Claret Jug.
Best Player to Never Win a Major is an ambiguous description for a veteran professional golfer. On one side, it means a golfer has enjoyed a terrific career, winning regular events on major professional tours and routinely contending for golf’s four major trophies. On the flip side, a person considered ‘BPTNWAM’ can be perceived as afflicted with the inability to close the deal on Sunday afternoons. If you recall, a little more than a decade ago the American lefty Phil Mickelson wore this moniker like a scarlet letter. Five majors later, he’s considered one of the game’s all-time greats. Others, such as seven-time European Tour Order of Merit leader Colin Montgomerie, were never so fortunate and ended their career with a hole in their otherwise impeccable playing record.
Sergio Garcia started challenging for major championships in 1999 at the tender age of 19. And in many years since, he’d been thick in the hunt on Sunday but fallen short, typically slipping down the leaderboard when his putter went awry.
When he arrived at Augusta National in the first week of April 2017, Garcia had 12 top-5 finishes in majors and nearly 30 professional wins worldwide. When he departed on Sunday evening he had donned a Green Jacket, shed other labels and set a magical year in motion.
With the PGA Championship taking place at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, roughly four hours west the Southeastern North Carolina coast received a rare treat, serving as one-time host for the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship.
The tournament was played at Eagle Point Golf Club, a Tom Fazio layout in Wilmington, just down the road from PerryGolf headquarters. The course received glowing reviews from the pros throughout the week and delivered one of the more exciting finishes of the 2016-17 season.
Brian Harman, the diminutive lefthander from Georgia, thrilled a capacity crowd surrounding the 18th green by draining an improbable 28-foot birdie putt late Sunday afternoon to steal a one-shot victory over World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and streaking Pat Perez as rising star Jon Rahm watched from the fairway.
Harman’s second PGA Tour victory was worth $1.35 million and vaulted him to his best season as a professional. He finished runner-up to Brooks Koepka later in the summer at the U.S. Open and ended the season with seven top-10s, ranking 25th in the FedEx Cup standings.
Hatton blistered the storied links with a 24-under par total for 72 holes in a week during which records were made to be broken. For most of us mere mortals, the only way to shoot 61 at the Old Course is to end our round after 13 holes. Not for Ross Fisher, who toured all 18 in his 11-under round to set the new course record. Tommy Fleetwood also joined in the record-shattering fun, taking advantage of benign conditions to fire a brilliant course record 63 at the ultra-difficult Carnoustie.
Fleetwood claims the Race to Dubai
Speaking of Tommy Fleetwood, he captured the prestigious European Tour Race to Dubai, riding a pair of victories and top-five finishes at the WGC-Mexico event and U.S. Open to the lucrative prize.
Fleetwood claimed trophies at the French Open, played at Le Golf de National and the Abu Dhabi Championship en route to his best season as a professional.
The 26-year-old Englishman vaulted inside the top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking and served notice that he’s likely to be a mainstay on major championship leaderboards and European Ryder Cup teams in the near future.