As the final remnants of COVID-era rules are lifted around the world, and following on my August 2022 release on the current state of international golf travel, I thought it may be worthwhile to provide an updated overview of the current state of play for international golf travel to the British Isles.Read more “The Current State of International Golf Travel”
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 third in an ongoing series, during which we’ll profile the devoted, diligent Concierge Drivers who help PerryGolf guests: Play the Game. See the World.
While serving as Concierge Driver on a recent PerryGolf trip, Steve Outram faced a dilemma at the Dublin airport, where he was picking up 10 clients who were continuing an Escorted Tour.
Due to airline error, the golfers clubs did not arrive on the flight.
The next day the golfers were scheduled to play the Dunluce course at Royal Portrush, site of The Open next July and No. 14 in Golf Magazine’s 2017-18 ranking of Top 100 Courses in the World. A round at Portstewart – also a top 50 layout – awaited two days later.
Such a predicament may have confounded a less experienced driver, however, Outram leaned on relationships built during his near three decades working for PerryGolf to make certain the golfers were equipped to play these ‘bucket list rounds.’
Right away, he called the head professional at Royal Portrush and arranged rental sets. Aware that Portstewart only had a half-dozen sets of rental clubs, he also asked the Royal Portrush pro if the golfers could keep the clubs an extra day and use them at Portstewart, located five miles down the coast.
The Royal Portrush pro agreed and disaster was narrowly averted.
“Because of the relationship and the attitude there was no issue at all,” Outram said. “That helped me out greatly. Another driver in the same situation, his golfers didn’t play for two days.”
Assisting others comes easily to Outram, a PerryGolf driver for 27 years. He doesn’t share the story because he intends to boast and while he’s certain there have been other similar incidents during his tenure, frankly, he tries to forget them as quickly as possible. By his estimate, nine times out of 10 a PerryGolf Escorted Tour runs smoothly without so much as a spilled cup of tea. But, when the uncontrollable travel hazards arise, Outram accepts the responsibility of making sure the clients needs are met. Securing a caddy can also be a challenge for guests in Ireland because the loopers often don’t work directly for the club and must be reserved in advance. Outram’s understanding of this nuance is just another way he can enhance the experience for PerryGolf guests.
Outram is a native of Bristol, in the southwest of the United Kingdom, who has called Ireland home for 40 years. He lives in the golfers haven of County Kerry, blessed with wonderful links such as Ballybunion, Tralee and Waterville, and has been involved in the Irish Golf Tour industry since its infancy.
“Tom Watson said a lot of good things about Ballybunion back in the late 70s and that more or less kickstarted golf tourism here,” Outram said. “Now we have the (Rory) McIlroy factor in Northern Ireland and the appeal of Royal County Down and Royal Portrush.”
There’s also a buzz in the air throughout the country as golf fans and tourists look toward The Open, roughly nine months away, making its return to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951.
Outram, 67, doesn’t play golf anymore. His knees won’t allow it. Yet he still shares the joy PerryGolf clients feel when they stride to the first tee at Ballybunion, glance toward the small stone fence separating the first fairway from a graveyard and begin their quest to conquer the venerable course.
From April to October, his typical season involves 10 to 12 tours. And the makeup of his clients has changed through the years, transitioning from male-only golf buddy trips to more couples-oriented tours these days.
On a recent Escorted Tour, he picked up four couples from the airport in Cork, delivered them to one of the wonderful links of County Kerry, and then took their wives on a sightseeing excursion.
While the men played the amazing Old Head, seeking birdies, the ladies kissed the Blarney Stone, hoping to capture its mystical eloquence.
“Every day is different. The wives add a bit of color and spark,” Outram said. “The variety of meeting the clients, every itinerary is made up differently because PerryGolf is taylor made to the clients request.”
Being familiar with the area enables Outram to make the proper dinner suggestion and handle reservations, if necessary. His experience also leads to giving each set of guests the requisite amount of attention.
Although he’s reached retirement age, Outram doesn’t intend to step away from the steering wheel anytime soon. He’s still happy to rely on his experience and local knowledge while delivering elite customer service to all who are interested in savoring the beauty of the Emerald Isle.
Once again, The Open delivered a compelling final round befitting golf’s oldest championship.
The 42-year-old Tiger Woods seized the lead – and the golf world’s attention – early in the back nine, adding fuel to an improbable comeback. Jordan Spieth fought valiantly to defend his title. Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy thrilled the locals with spirited charges on the closing holes. In all, at least a half-dozen golfers battled atop the leaderboard as the holes dwindled and the sun began to dip over historic Carnoustie, which bared its teeth via strong breezes and hole locations tucked in corners.
As the dust from another divot drifted across the hard baked links, Francesco Molinari earned the Claret Jug with a brilliant 69, capping a incredible weekend during which he never made a score worse than par. Molinari missed 12 greens in regulation in the final 36 holes and saved par every time. Known for consistent ballstriking it was this amazing scrambling that allowed him to become the first Italian golfer to claim a major championship. His victory extended a torrid run. Since missing the cut at The Players in May, he’s won three of six starts and finished runner-up twice to soar to No. 6 in the world and cement a spot on the European Ryder Cup team in September in France.
Molto bene, Francesco. Molto bene.
PerryGolf guests walked the fairways and followed the drama of The 147th Open on Sunday, enjoying a 12-day cruise that included golf at The Ailsa Course at Trump Turnberry, Prestwick and site of The 148th Open next July, Royal Portrush.
Equally spectacular is next year’s cruise through the British Isles and onward to The 148th Open on board the mid-sized luxury vessel, Azamara Journey.
The journey features golf at Royal County Down, consistently ranked top five in the world; Prestwick, site of The 1st Open and subsequent 11 championships; Royal Birkdale, where Palmer, Watson and Spieth each became Champion Golfer of the Year; K Club Ryder Cup Course, host of the 2006 matches.
Of course, PerryGolf offers multiple options for golfers interested in traveling to The Open as it returns to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951. Choose from an array of tours and cruises catered to suit the specific needs of each guest, play golf on the most famous links in the world and experience hidden gems such as Carne and Ballyliffin, Glashedy Links – often referred to as the ‘Dornoch of Ireland.’
Play four courses in The Open rota, including the Old Course at St. Andrews and Carnoustie, on this 6-night, 6-round Tour, available April – October 2019.
Or, look ahead and make plans to attend The 149th Open at Royal St. George’s, site of triumphs by Darren Clarke, Greg Norman and twice apiece by Walter Hagen and Harry Vardon.
It’s uncanny how The Open manages to deliver a thrilling, often unpredictable final round each year. The combination of phenomenal links, the Royal & Ancient’s excellent setup and a touch of Mother Nature provides the ultimate challenge for the best golfers in the world and thrilling action for spectators in the gallery and viewers at home. Let PerryGolf put you in the former category next year in Northern Ireland for what will certainly be a historic championship.
The 147th Open at Carnoustie begins in 10 days. Final Qualifying was held last week at Notts (Hollinwell), Princes, St. Anne’s Old Links and Renaissance in the U.K., and continued last weekend on the PGA Tour where the top four finishers inside the top 12 at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier who were not already exempt punched their ticket to Scotland. Kelly Kraft, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Kokrak and Austin Cook earned their way into the field.
Ballyliffin’s Glashedy Links – and its sister Old Course – are popular featured options when PerryGolf visits Ireland’s northern coast. Glashedy Links proved an admirable host for the European Tour’s qualifier for The Open – the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Ryan Fox, Zander Lombard and Andy Sullivan added their name to the tee sheet at Carnoustie through their strong play at Ballyliffin.
The final two spots in The Open are reserved for the champions of the Scottish Open and John Deere Classic – if those players are not already in The Open field.
PerryGolf is pleased to offer an array of Escorted Tours, Custom Tours and Cruises for golfers interested in tackling the majestic links of The Open rota and sites of Final Qualifying that are sprinkled throughout the British Isles. In addition we’ll guide you through the U.K. and Ireland’s multitude of other venerable layouts, including the familiar world renowned designs and the delightful hidden gems. Every package presents attractive options in course selection and trip duration, catered to fit the specific needs of each guest.
Anyone wanting to experience the action and excitement of The Open next year as it makes a historic return to Royal Portrush, join host PerryGolf co-founder Colin Dalgleish on a 12-night, 5-round voyage from Edinburgh to Southampton, including rounds at Royal Birkdale, Ailsa Turnberry and Royal County Down. Attend the final round of The 148th Open and watch the game’s best golfers battle for the Claret Jug. (See all the details below).
PerryGolf also delivers several other appealing options for golfers aiming to play Ireland’s best and enjoy the final round at Royal Portrush – here’s one example of such a Custom Tour: https://www.perrygolf.com/standard-quote.php/115139/The-148th-Open-plus-Dublin-Newcastle–Londonderry.html
Those wanting to brush up on their history before next week’s championship by learning more about past champions of The Open will want to tune into “Chronicles of a Champion Golfer,” which is produced by the R&A. The first two seasons are available on Netflix, and elsewhere, while the third season is currently airing on Golf Channel. We watched the Nick Pride episode recently and found it compelling. Price, a gentleman of the game, discussed serving in the Rhodesian Air Force during wartime, the impact of losing his father at a young age and near misses at The Open before he prevailed in 1994 at Turnberry.
This is the eighth time Carnoustie has played host to The Open and the links considered the most difficult in the rota certainly has carved its place in the championship’s rich, storied history.
Padraig Harrington hoisted the Claret Jug at Carnoustie most recently, defeating Sergio Garcia in a playoff in 2007. The legendary Ben Hogan won The 82nd Open in 1953 in his only appearance in golf’s oldest championship. Hogan was also the last golfer to win the first three legs of the modern Grand Slam. He was unable to play the final tournament the PGA Championship, due to a scheduling conflict and the 36-hole-per-day match play format, as he came back from a horrific auto accident.
Yet, it’s quite possible that one particular championship at Carnoustie – The 128th Open – will live forever in infamy. It was a unforgettable moment in golf history, and one, unfortunately that will always be recalled for the man who squandered the Claret Jug and not the champion who eventually claimed it.
Jean Van de Velde, a unheralded French pro, played flawless golf for 71 holes that week in 1999. He arrived at the tee of the daunting par-4 18th holding a three-shot lead, needing only a double bogey to secure the title. An errant tee shot was the first of a series of mistakes that ultimately created a three-way tie atop the leaderboard and a playoff won by Paul Lawrie of Scotland. (Here’s a good trivia question to ask while having a pint with your golfing pals: Who was the third participant in the playoff?).
This evening, Golf Channel debuts “Go Down Swinging,” which projects as an excellent documentary of the events 19 years ago. You can relive the agony of the final hole fiasco featuring commentary from the inestimable Peter Alliss, below. The answer to our trivia question is Justin Leonard.
The news today that the Irish Open shall be played at Royal County Down Golf Club in Northern Ireland, May 28 – 31, 2015 is excellent news for Irish golf fans. Read more “Irish Open heads to Royal County Down in 2015”