The Winners of the 2013 Great Scotland Golf Giveaway


Wow! We cannot believe how many entries were received for the 2013 Great Scotland Golf Giveaway. Tens of thousands of people entered the contest, and thousands shared the contest via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter. Thanks to Free Birdie, Carl’s Golfland, Travel Pro Luggage, SCOR Golf, and Golf Vacation Insider for helping sponsor and make this contest possible plus most importantly our partners in Scotland, Turnberry, Kingsmills Hotel Gleneagles, Prestwick Golf Club, Royal Dornoch Golf Club & Castle Stuart who shall be providing a memorable trip to the winner and three friends.


The Winners Are…..

Grand Prize Winner of the PerryGolf Foursome to Scotland:

Kathy Scott


Runner Up Winners:

A set of TaylorMade RBZ Irons:

Chuck Coleman

Travel Pro Walkabout luggage:

Gilbert Castro

1 Year Supply of Srixion Golf Balls:

Anthony S. Prusaczyk


Share Prize Winners:

Callaway RAZR X Black Driver:

Derek Cornett

Ecco Biom Hybrid Golf Shoes:

David Jaehning

1 Year Supply of Titleist Pro V1:

Riley Stroven

Set of SCOR Golf Wedges:

James Williamson

Congratulations to our contestants.  Keep checking the PerryGolf website for updates on future contests.



Kintyre Express…golf travel to Scotland with a flair

The Kintyre Express: Linking the great links courses of Ireland, Ayrshire and Kintyre
David DeSmith TheAPosition

TAP image

This story involves golf, a boat, and some of the best links golf courses in the world. It’s a long but compelling story that will take a little while to tell. But if you’ll bear with me for a few blog posts, in the end you’ll come away from it with the best links golf itinerary anyone has ever imagined. The story goes like this…

Once …

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About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+


Around the Top 100 World – Day 51 to Day 60 / Ayrshire to Ascot

Click here for trip summary & overview

Day 51  Drive Turnberry/Gullane                                                                 Play Muirfield

Instead of rising at the crack of dawn for the originally scheduled 7:30 am starting time we were able to have a relaxing breakfast in the hotel’s lovely dining room overlooking the golf course and out to the Irish Sea. It is one of the world’s best views from a hotel window. We then had a visit with the hotel director and general manager Christopher Rouse (1995). It turned out that the best person at Turnberry to talk to about the architecture of the courses was George Brown, manager of courses. Fortunately, George was available, and we had a very productive meeting.

We drove 121 miles north and then east past Edinburgh to the pro shop at the Gullane Golf Club. In making arrangements to play Muirfield Plan B had been employed. My initial member contact did not respond, and then I got lucky with a group of Edinburgh golfers coming to play Baltusrol in September 1996. David Kirkwood, member of Gullane, put me in touch with Archie Baird. In the 1992 “O” Archie’s famous golf museum (called The Heritage of Golf) was covered extensively.

Archie took us to lunch at the Gullane Golf Club. Then he and I were on the first tee at 2 pm as a twosome with golf bags on our shoulders and the course to ourselves. Dan was not allowed to play because Muirfield (rated 8, designed by Morris 1889 and remodeled by Colt and then Simpson)(first played October 1979 and again May 1992/total 3 rounds) does not permit three- or four-ball play on any afternoon. The weather was 65 degrees and mostly sunny and a light breeze. Archie wanted to play a friendly match, and he proved to be a fierce competitor with both  his clubs and his mouth. I did not stand a chance!

Archie was the perfect host. He knows an incredible amount about the design evolution of Muirfield. Equally impressive is his ability to turn a great phrase and even to spout poetry. We continued to benefit from his knowledge and enthusiasm with a tour of his museum and at dinner. Greywalls is a famous and impeccable Edwardian Scottish country hotel adjacent to the ninth green at Muirfield. Accompanied by Archie’s wife Sheila (granddaughter of the famous golfer and course architect Willie Park, Jr.) we enjoyed a gourmet meal with excellent service. The whole experience at Greywalls was one of the very best on the trip and put the Glassdrumman to shame. A good night’s sleep was obtained at the unpretentious Mallard Hotel.

Day 52  Drive Gullane/Glasgow                               Visit Brian Morgan’s Golf Photo Gallery

Drive Glasgow/St. Andrews                        Play St. Andrews (Old)

My book will be mostly text with a few pictures that demonstrate unique architectural features. Brian Morgan (1994) is acknowledged to be the most competent golf photographer in the world, and I am fortunate to know him. We had discussed an arrangement over the phone, and then I made arrangements to visit his office during the trip. So Dan and I drove 73 miles to Glasgow and met with Brian’s former wife Dorothy for five hours. She runs the office while Brian travels around the world taking golf pictures.

Old Course, courtesy of LC Lambrecht

Then we drove 86 miles to St. Andrews, where I checked into Waldon House, which is the R&A’s bed and breakfast adjacent to the eighteenth fairway of the Old Course. At 6 pm we wandered over to the starter’s booth at the Old Course (rated 5, original layout sixteenth century with no known designer)(first played October 1979 and last played September 1996/total 5 rounds) and were amazed to find a totally vacant first tee. Dan was dying to play the course, so I asked the starter if we could play then. He said certainly, so I produced my R&A card, which allows free play. An added benefit was that Dan’s 72-pound greens fee was reduced by 50 pounds because he was playing as my guest.

With clubs on shoulders we teed off in 60 degrees with overcast skies and 5-to 10-mph winds. We played the entire round unimpeded. As if on cue the sun came out on the thirteenth hole and bathed the whole course and the town in late-evening shadows. We finished at 9:30 pm and had a mediocre bar meal with excruciatingly slow service at a local pub.

Day 53  Play St. Andrews (Old)                                            Drive St. Andrews/Carnoustie

Play Carnoustie (Old)                                              Drive Carnoustie/Newburgh

Arranging to play the Old Course is difficult, even for an R&A member. Thanks to Euan MacGregor, finance and administration manager for the St. Andrews Links Trust, I was given a 6:50 am time, which was just before the field started. Euan had also arranged for Walter Woods to join me in a twosome. Walter just retired after 20 years as links supervisor for all five courses under the Links Trust. He is an excellent golfer, has an unrivaled knowledge of the Old Course, and gave us some valuable insights into the recent history of the course. Dan walked with us and particularly admired the way Walter raked the two bunkers he was in — efficiently and with a surgeon’s stroke.

We played the round with no wind, 60 degrees, and overcast skies. When we teed off there must have been 50 people surrounding the starter’s booth. Many were single players hoping to fill in for a no show. Our round was completed at 9:45 am, so within 12 hours I had finished two unimpeded rounds on one of the busiest courses in the world carrying my own bag.

Dan and I then drove north for 24 miles to Carnoustie (rated 21, designed by Robertson 1842 and remodeled by Braid)(this was my first links course played October 1979 and again May 1992/total 2 rounds). We said hello to David Curtis, Secretary of the Carnoustie Golf Club, which is a separate entity from the municipally run golf course. After lunch the club historian Bill Coupar spent some time with us.

At 2:30 pm Dan and I were off the first tee as a twosome in 60 degrees, 5 mph, overcast with a threat of rain. Play was slow; two Englishman joined us on the ninth green; and then it rained on holes 11 through 15. We finished in the gloom at 6:30 pm. Then we talked with the course superintendent John Philp for one hour. We would have talked to him longer because he was full of knowledge and enthusiasm about the architecture of the course, but we had a long trip ahead of us.

At 7:30 pm we left Carnoustie and immediately stopped for some traditional Scottish cuisine — fish and chips. We nibbled at the food while driving 85 miles in heavy rain and fog through Aberdeen to the village of Newburgh and the Udny Arms Hotel. At 10:30 pm I registered, and Dan went down the road to a bed and breakfast. After hauling my luggage to the third floor I collapsed and fell fast asleep.

At 11:45 pm I shot awake with the ringing of the phone. It was the front desk demanding to know where my traveling companion was. I told them two things: 1) the reservation had been canceled several weeks before and 2) they had no business calling my room at 11:45 pm to make such an inquiry! I pointed out that they could have made the inquiry when I was checking in. Then I tried to go back to sleep and was immediately hit by severe cramps in the backs of both upper legs. After doing battle for the next half hour the cramps went away, but sleep did not resume until about 2 am.

Day 54  Play Cruden Bay                                                      Drive Cruden Bay/Skibo Castle

I  was up at 6 am and told the front-desk clerk I was not going to pay for my room because the hotel did not provide the environment for the basic service of a decent night’s sleep. I also said that it would be appropriate for the hotel to write me a letter of apology if the room had indeed been canceled in the proper manner.

Subsequently it was determined that the room had definitely been canceled according to the official policy established by the hotel and there was a written record of such cancellation. Not surprisingly, when I returned to the U.S. I found the room charge on my credit card statement and no letter of apology. I will not bore you with the subsequent correspondence with the self-righteous hotel manager Jennifer Craig, who strongly claims never to have made a mistake. Suffice it to say that the hotel can now be referred to as the  “Ugly Arms.”

Now back to the golf. Dan and I drove five miles north to the Cruden Bay Golf Club (rated 99, designed by Fowler and Simpson 1925)(played one round July 1992). In the car park the weather was foggy, drizzly, windy, and cool. I decided to pack the golf bag with a complete set of foul weather gear, and we set out at 8:30 am with bags on our shoulders. Some of the holes at Cruden Bay are extremely hilly and the walk between the eighth green and the ninth tee is like climbing the Swiss Alps. The sun came out early in the round, and the temperature rose to 70 degrees. With 36 holes the previous day, the long drive, the Ugly Arms special treatment, and an unnecessary heavy golf bag, I was pooped by the end of the round.

After lunch at the club we drove 156 miles north to Dornoch, where Dan said goodbye. (He played 46 holes in drenching rain at Royal Dornoch from 5:30 pm to 10:47 pm and then drove to Glasgow where he hit the hay at 3 am.)  I drove to the nearby Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle for the night. The first thing I did upon arrival was to request laundry service because I was down to my last you know what.

In 1994 I was at Skibo before the official opening and ate dinner with just three other people in the main dining room at a long table that could easily have held 30 people. In 1995 I returned after the club was officially opened and ate at the same table with nine other people. In 1997 the bustle of activity throughout the entire complex was noticeable. Not only was the main dining table entirely occupied, but a side table holding ten was also full. What amazed me was the proliferation of young people (one American had his wife and four children ages 18 through 25 along). It was pleasing to see the realization of owner Peter de Savary’s hard work and dream.

Day 55  Play Royal Dornoch                                     Drive Dornoch/Loch Lomond

I was up at 5:30 am and on the first tee of the Royal Dornoch Golf Club (rated 13, designed by Morris 1886 and remodeled by Sutherland and then Duncan)(first played September 1986 and again July 1992/total 6 rounds). The weather was miserable — cold, windy, rainy. I played by myself and pulled a trolley.

After golf I had a long talk with the club secretary John Duncan and then another long talk with  Willie Skinner, head professional for 24 years. At dinner the previous night Allan Grant, Skibo golf secretary, had made arrangements for me to meet with two of the older Dornoch members who were knowledgeable about the course architecture, John Grant and Tommy McCulloch, and I had a very informative chat with them.

I returned to the Castle and had lunch with the club golf professional Willie Milne. We were going to play 18 holes on the Carnegie Links, but a two-hour-long downpour made that plan inoperative. Instead I started south on a 221-mile scenic drive and was exposed to high Scottish mountains and some beautiful lochs.

Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Scotland

Unfortunately, the trip was partially marred by overcast skies and frequent rain showers.

The long tour delivered me to the Lodge on Loch Lomond at 7 pm. At the reception area I was asked if I wished a dinner reservation. Giving an affirmative answer, I was told 9 pm was the first available time. Because the hotel restaurant also did business with non-hotel guests I asked why paying $130 for a room did not entitle me to a preferred time. Not receiving a satisfactory answer I went into the dining room and was pleased to find several empty tables. Pointing this out to the management of the hotel did immediately produce a table. However, in order to charge the meal to my room I had to surrender my room key to the maitre d’ until I signed the check after the meal. For all this aggravation  I received an average meal with average service.

Day 56  Play Loch Lomond                                                   Drive Loch Lomond/Ganton

I woke up at 6 am and threw open the curtains to find very dark skies, light rain, and strong winds. I met playing companion Colin Dalgleish (he runs the part of PerryGolf located in Scotland) at a little after 7 am outside the temporary clubhouse of Loch Lomond Golf Club (rated 44, designed by Weiskopf and Morrish 1994)(played two rounds July 1995). We were scheduled to have the first tee time at 7:30 am, but eight eager Americans were approaching the first tee. Luckily they permitted us to hit off first, and we sped around in two hours and 45 minutes carrying our own bags.

Even though the weather threatened all the way around and we wore rain gear, it hardly rained. The temperature remained in the 50’s, and on the exposed parts of the course the wind blew 25 mph. However, because many of the holes are sheltered by many tall and thick trees there was not a constant battle with the wind.

After a quick early lunch I spoke briefly with the head professional Colin Campbell (the day had been arranged by Michael Daswick of the Lyle Anderson Group in Arizona). Then Colin and I had an extensive tour of the impressive new clubhouse facilities by Keith Williams. Keith arrived at Loch Lomond in February 1997 to direct construction after having done the same thing with a multimillion-dollar expansion and modernization of Wentworth near London.

Then I drove 268 miles southeast to England (Yorkshire) and the small village of Ganton near the city of Scarborough. During the trip the skies continued ominous with occasional heavy showers. I arrived at the Ganton Greyhound at 5:30 pm in a heavy downpour. The chief Greyhound was the burly owner Terry Bennett. He showed me to a room overlooking the busy main road. I asked if there was something quieter and was strongly informed that all the rooms were taken. However, Terry did assure me the traffic noise would die down later in the evening. He was correct on that score, but he forgot to mention that my room was directly over the public bar. In Japan I was subjected to paper thin walls and now at the Greyhound I was resting on a paper thin floor. The noise level from the crowded bar increased with each passing hour, and I finally fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning.

Day 57  Play Ganton                                                              Drive Ganton/Lytham St. Annes

I was up at 6:30 am on a cold day with no heat in the room and no hot water. Breakfast service began at 8 am, but there was a sign saying “A continental breakfast may be taken earlier if requested the previous day.” You would have thought I was asking for the crown jewels when I inquired about receiving the continental breakfast.

At 8:15 am I was on the nearby first tee of the Ganton Golf Club (rated 67, designed by Dunn 1891 and remodeled by Vardon, Colt, Hutchinson, Fowler, Ray, Braid, Hilton, Cotton)(played September 1985) with a pickup member arranged by the friendly caddiemaster. It was 60 degrees, no wind, and misty. Light rain fell occasionally throughout the round.

Arrangements for this day had been made by the club secretary Major R.G. Woolsey, who had sent along several pages of course history before the trip started. After golf, the assistant club secretary Mrs. Jean Matthewman provided more written data and sandwiches. Then it took about three hours to drive the 138 miles due west across country from Ganton to Lytham St. Annes. At the Chadwick Hotel in St. Annes I had dinner with John Twissell (1985), who had made arrangements for golf the next day.

Day 58  Play Royal Lytham              Drive Lytham/Southport                    Play Royal Birkdale

At 7:15 am I arrived at Royal Lytham (rated 58, designed by Lowe 1886 and remodeled by Simpson, Fowler, Colt, Morrison, Cotton, Steel)(first played September 1985 and last played May 1989/total 3 rounds) and found John Twissell and our host Dr. Steven Reid. Steven was recently captain of the club, has written a course history of County Sligo (Rosses Point) in Ireland, and is very knowledgeable about the Lytham course history. Before play one of the crises of the trip had to be addressed. The wings on my collapsible long putter were constantly coming loose with tightening required. I bit the bullet and asked a nice young man in the pro shop to give the implement a sound tightening. He obliged, and the problem disappeared for the rest of the trip.

We teed off on that late June day with the sky partly sunny, the temperature in the high 50’s, and a wind of about 10 mph. Lytham is a true links course, but no body of water is anywhere in sight. Considerable discussion centered on how far away the water was that once covered the course. The answer is about 800 yards.

After the round and lunch in the main dining room I went to see the club secretary Lytton Goodwin  to ask him to call Royal Birkdale to see if I could play there that afternoon. I wanted to reshuffle the deck to take advantage of the good weather and also avoid the killing schedule I had set for the following day (a doubleheader of Birkdale and Liverpool plus a long drive to Woodhall Spa). The answer was affirmative.

I then drove 40 miles to Southport and found Royal Birkdale (rated 26, designed by Low 1889 and remodeled by Hawtree)(first played September 1985 and last played May 1989/total 3 rounds). The club secretary Norman Crewe was most cordial, and we had a long talk about the rebuilding of the Birkdale greens. At 5 pm I was out on the course by myself pulling a trolley. It was 55 degrees, partly sunny, and 20 mph. Play was somewhat slow on the front nine.

Royal Lytham Golf Club, courtesy of Russell Kirk/GOLFLINKS

On the tenth tee I was joined by host Gordon Jeffrey (1989), who was captain of the R&A in 1995. Gordon had arranged a foursome for the next morning but was understanding when I told him about wanting to accelerate the schedule. On the back nine Gordon acted as caddie by pulling my trolley. The early-evening shadows outlining the tremendous sand dunes at Birkdale were a bonus. Gordon then took me to dinner, where I was able to thank him and Birkdale for adapting smoothly to my new schedule. I was at the Scarisbrick Hotel by 10:30 pm.

Day 59  Drive Southport/Hoylake    Play Royal Liverpool     Drive Hoylake/Woodhall Spa

I was up at 6 am for a 33-mile drive south through the Liverpool tunnel and out to the town of Hoylake. At 8 am I met with Royal Liverpool (rated 82, designed by Morris and Chambers 1869 and remodeled by Colt and then Pennink)(first played September 1985 and last played May 1989/total 5 rounds) club secretary Group Captain Christopher Moore. Member John Behrend (1989) had made the initial introduction to the club on my behalf. At 9 am I was on the first tee with member Dr. John Graham, who is a good friend of Lytton Goodwin. The weather was 45 degrees, partly sunny, and 15 to 20 mph. On the downwind 374-yard par-4 second hole came the shot of the trip. After I hit a 9-iron second shot, neither John nor I could see where the ball finished up because a bunker lip hid part of the green. When we arrived at the green the ball was nowhere in sight, so I looked in the cup and there it was — eagle two!

After lunch with John I drove 198 miles south and east to the village of Woodhall Spa. This is not an easy place to get to, and I was grateful not to have had to do the navigating in the dark as called for by the original schedule. At the Golf Hotel an average dinner was presented, but the sleep was restful.

Day 60  Play Woodhall Spa                                                        Drive Woodhall Spa/Ascot

After a 7:20 am continental breakfast I drove about 500 yards to the entrance of the Woodhall Spa Golf Club (rated 29, designed by Hotchkin and Hutchinson 1926)(played two rounds September 1985) clubhouse and was greeted by manager Ben Fawcett. He offered a caddie, but I said playing alone was preferrable. At 8 am I set off in full foul-weather gear pulling a trolley in 55 degrees with no wind, and light rain. This is a heavily tree-lined course, and after each of the first 12 holes I was able to huddle under a few of them to write my notes with a ball-point pen. A felt-tip pen does not work if the least bit of moisture is present. Fortunately, I had one ball-point pen with me.

Rain poured down heavily during the last six holes, so the umbrella came out and I wrote my notes while juggling the umbrella in a steady breeze. Coming down the eighteenth hole I was moving very slowly and felt about as tired as at any time during the trip.

A quick change had me looking presentable for a long discussion and an enjoyable lunch with the club president Neil Hotchkin. He had inherited the club and the surrounding land 40 years before and had recently sold the club to the English Golf Union (EGU) to be used as its national training center for amateur golfers. Neil has been active in the EGU for many years.

The route out of Woodhall Spa is not any easier than the route in. After 11 different junctions and 4 hours (178 miles) in pouring rain and medium-to-heavy traffic I arrived on the western outskirts of London and the Cottage Inn in Maidens Green. There I was informed that my reservation was not reconfirmed and therefore no room was available. They then arranged for a room in the next town, and I maneuvered my way to Ascot Place, a bed and breakfast just across the street from the Ascot race course. Unfortunately, there was a dog in the house with a loud bark that was in evidence until midnight.

An excellent “bar” meal was enjoyed at the nearby Rose & Crown in Windsor. The service was superior, and there was no pretense of seeking a tip.


About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+


Around the Top 100 World – Day 41 to Day 50 / Adelaide to Ayrshire

Click here for trip summary & overview

Day 41  Play Royal Adelaide

At 7:40 am a taxi drove me four miles to Seaton and Royal Adelaide (rated 63, designed by  Gardiner 1904 and remodeled by Mackenzie). It hardly ever rains in Adelaide, but that day rain was pelting down, the wind was blowing hard, the temperature was 55 degrees, and the skies were dark. I was greeted by a most friendly young lady in the pro shop. She said I was welcome to start play by myself. With the weather so bad I told her I might wait until the skies cleared. She then informed me that this was ladies’ day and a steady stream of players would be starting shortly. I could not believe that anyone would play in this weather, but sure enough the first group appeared right on time. I rushed to put on golf shoes and headed for the first tee with the golf bag on a hand trolley. At the first tee the rain ceased.

Even though the terrain is fairly flat this proved to be a very tiring round. I was constantly taking off and putting on a jacket as the wind and temperature fluctuated. I kept my rain pants on for the entire day. There was a fierce, but short rain squall accompanied by high winds on the fourteenth hole. The first foursome of ladies was on my heels the whole day as I tried to record detailed course notes while playing and changing clothes.

Afterwards I had a nice chat with the young greens superintendent Mark Prosser. He went there from Royal Melbourne three years before and has done an excellent job. The greens putted reasonably fast and very true. The fairway lies were excellent and the bunkers well maintained. Michael was very inquisitive, and we had a long chat. The club is hosting the Australian Open in 1998, and a few minor modifications in the course have been recommended by Peter Thomson. Michael then produced the club’s centenary book (1892-1992) for me to read.

A while later the manager/secretary Bruce Scott (1987) appeared, and I had an informative chat with him about Mackenzie and the course architecture. In 1926 the club heard that the Doctor was in Perth on a boat headed for Melbourne. They persuaded him to stop for a few hours at Adelaide. At the front entrance he announced his fee was 250 pounds payable in advance. In 1926 this was a substantial sum of money and not available out of petty cash. Apparently the money was found, and Mackenzie spent the rest of the day looking over the property. He came back for a longer stay and submitted a plan. The recommended new course outline was framed and is currently displayed on the club’s walls. Amazingly, not all of the Mackenzie recommendations were implemented because there was great debate within the club over the next several years. Today Royal Adelaide is a mixture of the original 1923 Seaton course, Mackenzie, and to a lesser extent Thomson and Wolveridge.

A taxi took me back to the motel, where I was pleased to find a washer and dryer for guest use. Not knowing when laundry service would next be available, I could not pass up that opportunity. A mediocre evening meal was served in the motel’s dining room.

Day 42  Fly Adelaide/Perth/Johannesburg/Durban

At 7:30 am, with rain coming down, the motel van took me to the airport, where I boarded a Qantas 737-300 for a 3-hour-and-10-minute 1,317-mile flight to Perth. There I set my watch back 1 ½ hours. At 11:30 am a Qantas 747-400 was airborne to Johannesburg on a 10-hour-and 15-minute 5,173-mile flight over the Indian Ocean. My watch was set back another six hours. Although the whole plane was only about 60 percent full, every seat in my upper-deck business class section was taken. This flight goes every other day and, luckily for me, went the day that best fit my schedule.

We arrived in Johannesburg on time, and I was able to obtain a flight earlier than planned to Durban (South African Air 311 miles one hour). At the airport I was met by John-Terry Lloyd (1988) and Greg Larson (1993). After a quick freshening up at the Edward Hotel it was off to dinner at the Durban Country Club with John (former club captain), Greg (former club captain), David Suddards (club captain), John Swain (club president), Barry King (former club captain), and Alf Sudheim (club manager). Everyone but Alf was accompanied by his wife. It was a relaxing time for me, and I was back in the hotel by 10:30 pm and a good night’s sleep. (On this leg of the trip I had flown 6,801 miles and been awake almost 24 hours.)

Day 43            Play Durban Country Club                                                 Fly Durban/London

At 8:45 am I was on the first tee of this very busy course with John-Terry Lloyd and David Suddards (played in several British Amateurs and reached the finals once). My caddie, Michael, was shoeless for comfort. The Indian Ocean was visible. The weather was 75 degrees and partly cloudy with no wind. Durban Country Club (rated 72, designed by Waters and Waterman 1922 and remodeled by Hotchkin)(played November 1988) has the distinction of being the only World 100 course with  monkeys frolicking around it.

After lunch John took me across the street to the 50,000-seat King’s Park stadium for my first live view of a professional rugby match. The local team, Natal Sharks, was playing the Western Province Lions. Natal won, and with very detailed instructions from John I grasped some, but certainly not all, of the nuances of rugby. Then John took me to the airport for my 10 ½-hour 5,931-mile flight on a British Airways 747-400 to London.

The schedule had allowed for an extra day in Durban in case I did not arrive on time or bad weather caused play cancellation. I had alerted John to Plan B, which was to leave the same day  we were first scheduled to play. As you have seen, everything went so smoothly that Plan B was activated. Actually Plan B had a better flight schedule, with the London-bound plane originating in Durban so that there was no change of planes in Johannesburg. Alf made all the arrangements and then faxed PerryGolf in Scotland and Atlanta to inform them of the revised schedule.

Day 44  Arrive London                      Fly London/Glasgow  , Scotland     Drive Airport/Troon

Play Royal Troon (Old)       Drive Troon/Stranraer

After arrival in London at 8 am (watch set back 2 hours and now using Britain pounds sterling), there was an easy transfer for the one-hour 345-mile flight to Glasgow. A Toyota four-door Carina with manual shift was obtained at Eurodollar Rent A Car. There had been some body damage to the rear door and rear panel, and these were noted on a form. (If you do not check your rental car extra carefully at the beginning you could have big trouble when it is returned.) After all the paperwork was completed I sped 48 miles south to the village of Troon adjacent to the Irish Sea.

The Postage Stamp at Royal Troon Golf Club, courtesy of LC Lambrecht

It was not until February that a problem with Royal Troon had  become apparent. I had relied on a member to advise me of the situation, and unfortunately he made no effort to ascertain the true circumstances. However, in the end I have no one to blame but myself. Knowing that the club was going to hold an international event, I should have checked directly to see about unusual guest-play restrictions.  Royal Troon was hosting The Open in July 1997, and because of guest-play problems before the last Open there, severe restrictions were put in place for the 1997 Open. After many faxes, it turned out that the only day that fit their schedule and mine was my first day in the UK.

Now I was at Royal Troon (Old Course rated 36, designed by Hunter 1878 and remodeled by Fernie, Braid, Mackenzie, and Morrison)(played September 1986) a day early. In the club reception area I found three efficient and understanding staff members as well as the club secretary John Montgomerie (father of Colin). I was directed to the luncheon area and then was able to tee off at 2:30 pm pulling a trolley and playing with an American and an Australian.

The weather was partly sunny, the temperature was about 60 degrees, and a strong 15-mph crosswind was blowing on that early June day. This was my first true links course of the trip, and there was some necessary mental adjustment to the absolutely flat and featureless terrain before me. In the middle of the round the weather turned ugly, with heavy rain and stronger winds than at the start. Note taking had to stop, and all rain gear was put into force. The famous par-3 Postage Stamp 120-yard eighth hole played directly into a 20-mph wind and rain. A six iron was used. Later I was told this was the first meaningful rain at Troon for the past two months.

We played in exactly three hours and afterwards had a refreshment in the comfortable club bar. There I learned that my Australian companion Bruce Johnson was president of the Lakes Golf Club in Sydney and knew David Burton at New South Wales and Bill Richardson at Royal Melbourne, two people I had been with in Australia just a few days before. Golf is indeed a small world.

I then drove 56 miles south to the small town of Stranraer and the North West Castle Hotel. I was a day ahead of the original schedule, but Cameron Reid in the Helensburgh office of PerryGolf  rescheduled the room reservations for the next four nights. It was now 9 pm, and the option was dinner or bed. I chose the bed because I had been awake for 36 hours.

Day 45  Ferry Stranraer/Belfast, Northern Ireland Drive Belfast/Ballybunion, Ireland

The original plan had a flight Durban/London/Shannon and this part of the trip starting with play at Ballybunion. The aforementioned situation with Royal Troon caused the schedule to be altered. Early on I decided that even if one course had to be changed I would do anything possible not to change any other part of the schedule. Hence the long trip from Scotland through Northern Ireland and the entire width of Ireland to Ballybunion.

At 9 am I drove on to a SeaCat ferry for the 90-minute ride across the Irish Sea to Belfast. Heavy fog slowed the trip somewhat. Then it took six hours to drive 287 miles between Belfast and Ballybunion. The road system is notoriously poor in the Republic of Ireland, and you cannot plan on going any faster than 40 mph. I arrived at the Marine Links Hotel in early-evening gloom and fog. The windows in my small room were rattling from the strong wind, and rain was pelting down. An above-average meal was had in the hotel dining room. The service was excellent, as it was from all the staff during my entire stay.

Day 46  Play Ballybunion (Old)

The official schedule called for playing Ballybunion (Old Course rated 12, designed by Murphy 1906 and remodeled by Simpson)(first played May 1984 and last played May 1992/total 4 rounds) at 6:50 am the next morning, driving to Lahinch, and playing there at 3 pm. Despite very heavy rain, high wind, and cool temperatures I decided to play Ballybunion as soon as possible. There was no telling how the weather would be the next day and I certainly did not want to play a doubleheader in those weather conditions.

Thus I was at the Ballybunion clubhouse at 7 am and found the first tee crowded with four American foursomes. After an informative chat with the head professional Brian O’Callaghan I was sent out with a father-and-son twosome from Sweden. At 7:30 am I was in full rain gear with my golf bag on my shoulder. The weather was atrocious — cold, heavy rain, strong wind. Even worse, the round took forever because the American group in front of us thought they were playing in a major championship — continual club-selection consultation with caddies, four practice swings on every shot, and then the search for balls after the many inevitable wayward shots.

The locals said there had been no rain there for the past six weeks and it had turned bad only the day before. But how could I complain about the weather because this really was only the fourth bad day of the trip and I was still able to get the job done. After the round I had a long talk with the secretary/manager Jim McKenna.

Returning to the hotel, I asked for a barber shop. An appointment was made, and I walked a few blocks and was greeted by a pleasant young lady. The cut was so short that the hair at the back of my head could not be combed, and gave me the appearance of a rooster. The benefit was that I no longer had to worry about hair in my eyes while playing golf, and I definitely would not need another haircut during the rest of the trip. (Actually the next cut came eight days after the end of the trip.)

Dan Turner arrived, and I took him to the course so that he could enjoy a round in the miserable conditions. We then had a good meal at the hotel.

Day 47  Drive Ballybunion/Lahinch  Play Lahinch (Old)         Drive Lahinch/Dublin

At 6:30 am we drove to the Tarbert/Shannon Ferry, which is the best way to cross the Shannon Estuary and avoid driving through Limerick on the way to the village of Lahinch. After the 46- mile trip we were at the Lahinch Golf Club (Old Course rated 73, designed by Morris 1893 and remodeled by Mackenzie)(played May 1992) at 9 am. We were scheduled to play at 3 pm, but starter Paul Smith maneuvered us around a group of Korean players, and we even had the course to ourselves as a twosome with our golf bags on our shoulders. The weather was 55 degrees and overcast with a light breeze.

After golf we visited with the secretary/manager Allan Reardon (1992), who told us an interesting story about how most of the Mackenzie-designed greens had been leveled by a member in the mid-1950s. This explains why the Lahinch greens lack the character of typical Mackenzie greens. The club does not have the money or the time to restore the greens because the course receives very heavy play.

Ballybunion – Courtesy of LC Lambrecht

In the early afternoon Dan was formally introduced to the “main road” between Limerick and Dublin as we drove 172 miles to the Deer Park Hotel in Hawth just north of Dublin. An average meal was served in the hotel dining room.

Day 48  Play Portmarnock                      Drive Portmarnock/Newcastle, Northern Ireland

At 10 am we arrived at the Portmarnock Golf Club (rated 38, designed by Ross 1894 and remodeled by Pickeman and Hawtree)(first played May 1984 and again May 1992/total 2 rounds). My long- time contact there was James McCarthy, but he was ill that day. We went in to see the secretary/manager John Quigley to thank him for arranging our play. (Portmarnock has limited tee times for visitors.) We were then introduced to playing partners Morris Buckley and Ivor Bailey. Morris is the honorary secretary at Portmarnock, which turns out to be a very important position at all golf clubs in Ireland. It is multi-year in duration and provides decision- making stability for the club as various members pass through the club offices.

By 11 am we had our clubs on trolleys and played in 55 degrees with light wind and overcast skies. Even though other players were on the course we played the entire round without being bothered. Following refreshments Ivor led us out on the back roads to the “main road” north. The route took us 94 miles over the border to Northern Ireland, through Newry, and on to the village of Annalong.

Our destination was the Glassdrumman Lodge, which turned out to be a high-end 10-room bed and breakfast. There was a very expensive fixed-price dinner. I ordered lamb chops and was served two overdone and tough tiny chops the size of dimes. The rest of the plate overflowed with vegetables that only a true vegetarian could love. The service started out efficiently and personably, but when a large group of nonresidents arrived we were almost forgotten. My room was directly over the front door, and the noisy group of nonresidents made their exit known when they departed at midnight. As I paid the $190-per-person bill the next morning, I noticed a large sign with bold letters announcing “gratuities are accepted.” That is how you know you are staying at a pseudo-sophisticated establishment that caters to rich American tourists.

Day 49  Play Royal County Down                                                    Drive Newcastle/Portrush

At 8 am we were on the road for the 20-mile drive to Newcastle and the Royal County Down Golf Club (rated 10, designed by Morris 1891 and remodeled by Dunn and then Vardon)(played two rounds May 1984). My initial contact was member Charles Adams, who winters in Naples, Florida, and referred to my trip as an orgy. Unfortunately he was not available, and Harry McCaw (1996 R&A Captain) was brought in as a substitute. Harry was the ultimate Irish host, and we had a great day on the course and in the clubhouse.

On this mid-June day we teed off in cloudy 60-degree weather with a light breeze. We had the course to ourselves and enjoyed playing through some towering dunes and soaking in the ambience of the Irish Sea and especially the Mourne Mountains.

Saturday is an institution at County Down, with many of the Belfast members coming down for refreshments, a noon meal, and eventually golf. We circulated in the bar and particularly enjoyed meeting the past captain John Edwards and the current secretary Peter Rolph. After a late lunch Harry invited us to his house, which is just past the eighteenth hole. There we enjoyed viewing some of his memorabilia from his year as R&A Captain. It was a perfect way to end our short stay at County Down.

We then drove 102 miles north past Belfast and on to the town of Portrush. The road system in Northern Ireland is clearly superior to the “road system” in the Republic. It is said that this is the case because the British feel they can more easily catch IRA members if the roads are good. We reached the Royal Court Hotel, which overlooks the Royal Portrush courses and the Irish Sea. Dan went off to play an early evening round of golf, and I went to sleep without having had dinner.

Day 50  Play Royal Portrush (Dunluce)    Drive Portrush/Belfast    Ferry Belfast/Stranrarer

Drive Stranraer/Turnberry          Play Turnberry (Alisa)

Fortunately the hotel had the cold part of the breakfast set up before the prescribed time, and we had a most friendly elderly waitress. We were at the course for our 8 am starting time, which had been arranged by the club secretary Wilma Erskine. During the planning stage Brian Gallagher of the Malone Golf Club was helpful in first establishing contact.

We had our bags on trolleys in a nippy 50 degrees, partly sunny with a 10-mph wind. No one was ahead of us on the Dunluce Course (rated 15, designed by Colt 1920)(played May 1984). After play we said hello to Mrs. Erskine and then enjoyed a substantial Sunday noon meal in the club’s dining room. Then we drove 67 miles to the ferry terminal near downtown Belfast. The 30-mile ferry trip took 75 minutes to Straraner, where we arrived at 6 pm.

Not many golfers know about the landscape just south of Turnberry. In an absolutely perfect early-evening setting with bright sun framing the Irish Sea on one side and the hilly countryside on the other, we breezed up the coastline for one hour to Turnberry. This 37-mile drive is almost as exciting as the drive south of Carmel along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Aerial view of famous Turnberry Lighthouse, Scotland

During the drive I mentioned to Dan that maybe we should attempt to play our round at Turnberry that evening instead of early the next morning. Because the next day’s schedule was going to be hectic, completing the round that evening made sense. But the real benefit would be to experience the course (Alisa Course rated 16, designed by Ross 1947)(first played May 1984 and again July 1995/total 6 rounds) bathed in the evening sun and shadows.

Upon arriving we went straight to the pro shop, where we were told by the friendly staff that the course was ours. So the clubs immediately came out of the car trunk (boot in the U. K.) and onto our shoulders. What a  memorable evening! The bright sun slowly gave way to beautiful evening shadows and rich colors that highlighted the hotel on the hillside, Alisa Craig, the lighthouse, the war memorial, and the distant islands. The air was cool (60 degrees), the wind was blowing 15 mph, waves were crashing in the Irish Sea, and a full moon was visible. As if on cue the bagpiper started to play by the hotel, and the sounds covered the entire course.

Finishing at 10:30 pm in total darkness we then went to register and were told that the U.S. Open was still on the telly. So we spent the next one and a half hours with room-service food and beverage watching Els finish off Montgomerie and Lehman. At midnight we could reflect on a full day: playing 18 holes in Northern Ireland and another 18 in Scotland and then seeing the final holes of our Open. This was the co-highlight of the trip (along with the Pebble/Cypress day) because we had played the fifteenth- and sixteenth-best courses in the world in one day. There is no way this day could have been planned, and the spontaneity of its last part  made it even more special.


About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+


The Perfect Hebridean Golf Trip

Honesty Box for gren fee payment
Honesty box for 10 pound green fee with "honest golfers"

In the course of a golfing lifetime I have been extraordinarily privileged to have played at a great many of the world finest golf courses. All of these have been fantastic experiences. Not to detract from these in any way, quite often however the most memorable trips are not necessarily defined by the absolute quality of the golf courses.

For instance I can specifically remember a trip which four good friends made in April 2004. It involved us playing the five golf courses on the “Long Isle”, the slightly misleading name given to the collection of outer Hebridean islands off the north west coast of Scotland which run from the isle of Lewis in the north to the isle of Barra in the south, separated by various bodies of water. Of the five golf courses, one is 18 holes, and four are 9 holes. Our trip involved four ferry journeys (two of which were between rounds), and three overnight stays at small B&B’s. We completed the five courses in 53 hours, possibly a record, only as much as no one would have perhaps much bothered before-:) We saw a total of eleven other golfers during our time there, and the biggest planning aspect was not booking the starting times …clearly! … but rather working around the ferry times. Most of the 9 holers had “honesty boxes”, some more advanced than others. Isle of Harris GC had an organized system of envelopes and receipts …. Isle of Barra GC on the other hand had a bird nesting in the box!. But it was a spectacular trip with friends. The courses were fun, if some a little more “rough” than most of us grow used to, but it did not and would not detract from our enjoyment in any way. Take a look at the site Golf Hebrides and indeed then google some of the courses for some great imagery. The newly “found” Old Course of Askernish stands out as the strongest layout.

I just love to plan a golf trip with friends. The more the challenge of the logistics the better! Enjoying a well thought out, well planned and well executed trip at enjoyable golf courses, combined with comfortable accommodations, good food and hospitality, and in good company, has to be one of the highlights of the game. Trains, planes, and automobiles … and golf … what a great combination!

The recent addition of some outstanding links courses in Scotland, got me thinking regarding the logistics of tracking many of them down in one trip. Most of our clients have time limitations, and of course love to play the “name” golf courses as we all do, but equally many are possibly even more drawn by the particular lure of links golf, and the challenge of stepping out of the “normal” zone, and the satisfaction that comes from being one of a more select group who have experienced something a little out of the ordinary. So …..

I’ve penciled together a potential schedule, from which many variations would be possible to suit particular preferences, which I think is exciting but convenient, and affords the opportunity to play a number of these new but diverse (both in geographic location and style) golf courses, plus some of the older classics and fun venues. The schedule makes good and economic use of several modes of transport, incorporates comfortable accommodations and gives variety in excellent dining, plenty of local malt whisky along the way, and always assures a warm welcome.

In the near future a link will be provided to a brief but compact schedule, but for the time being here are the details;

My starting point would be to ideally assemble a group of 8 friends. Gather in Troon on the Ayrshire Coast of Scotland. Charter the Kintyre Express, a highspeed and comfortable fully enclosed private boat service over to the island of Arran. Play the marvelous 12 hole Shiskine Golf Club, before continuing by Kintyre Express to Machrihanish. Spend two nights in a cottage at the Village at Machrihanish Dunes. Play Machrihanish (possibly also Dunavertythe same day) and the new David Mclay Kidd designed Machrihanish Dunes over the two days. After golf the second day make the one hour road transfer and two hour comfortable ferry crossing to the famous malt whisky isle of Islay. There stay at the Machrie Hotel for two nights, and enjoy a full day on the absolutely wonderful Machrie links, full of humps and bumps (and plenty blind shots). You will love it. I do -:) Then a private charter in a comfortable turbo pro from Islay up to the outer Hebridean island of South Uist to play what is undoubtedly the most remote course on the schedule, the “uncovered” Old Course at Askernish. A spectacular location, a warming story of an island community asset, and a golf course that all true lovers of the game should try and experience. Forget course conditioning. Get back in the plane and make the short onward flight to Inverness. Spend three nights here with a choice of accommodations in this small but vibrant city. Two days golf; one at Royal Dornoch, simply not to be missed. My suggestion is to make Castle Stuart, opened July 2009, your final round. It occupies a stunningly beautiful location with 360 degree views over water and mountain, the routing and layout are outstanding, the condition is excellent, the attention to detail by the management team second to none. It is certainly worthy of the star billing! … if you have time left it is well worth nipping down to St Andrews to play the new Castle Course .. or save that for the next trip?

I can assure you would certainly return from this trip with plenty tales to tell. Further, you would certainly be in little danger of being upstaged or even contradicted in the Grill Room at your home Club!

Naturally PerryGolf is best suited to bring this all together for you, ensuring all the preplanned arrangements are seamless, and providing a PerryGolf concierge to travel with you smoothing your journey as you go. If the trip has appeal to you please drop me a line at and we would be delighted to take it from there!

PS: An entirely separate thought … you might also consider a private charter of the luxury 12-guest 189 foot mega yacht Harmony II to take you around some of these island gems.