On the Road to The 148th Open at Royal Portrush with PerryGolf

Golf observers focused their eyes on the brilliant shores of Pebble Beach last weekend, watching the strong American pro Gary Woodland deliver an outstanding performance. His putt for birdie on the 72nd hole capped a three-shot victory over Brooks Koepka, who was seeking his third consecutive U.S. Open crown.

Now, the countdown has begun for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush, July 18-21, only 26 days away. The field is taking shape as 97 players have secured their position in the field for golf’s oldest championship. PerryGolf is an Authorised Ticket Provider to The Open (sometimes referred to as the British Open or The Open Championship) and eager to help clients enjoy a day in the gallery on this historic links.

Leading up to The Open, which returns to the Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years, we’re thrilled to highlight not only the various qualifiers that will round out the 156-man field, but also the wide array of links and parkland courses available to our clients throughout the British Isles. While most golf fans are familiar with pillars of The Open rota like Carnoustie, Royal Birkdale, St. Andrews, Muirfield etc, the courses used each year for qualifying are remarkable in their own right and popular options for PerryGolf guests. In addition, summer is peak season for golf travelers and championships on the British Isles and we’ll be certain to highlight those marquee events as the calendar unfolds. You’ll learn more about the Lahinch Golf Club, site of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, July 4-7; Woburn Golf Club, a hidden gem in England where the Ladies British Open unfolds in early August and The Renaissance Club in North Berwick, Scotland.

PerryGolf is also an Authorised Provider of Guaranteed Old Course Tee Times, taking golfers to St. Andrews, the Home of Golf, site of The 150th Open in 2021. Zach Johnson lifted the Claret Jug there most recently (2015), Louis Oosthuizen rolled to a seven-shot victory in 2010 and Tiger Woods avoided the bunkers to prevail in 2000 and 2005, joining Jack Nicklaus (1970, 1978) as a two-time champion on the historic links.

Max Faulkner won The Open in 1951, the last time it was held at Royal Portrush, outlasting defending champion and local favorite Fred Daly, among others. Competitors this year face a reconfigured Dunluce Links course. Renovations were made in recent years to accommodate spectators and merchandise areas while also delivering a stern stretch of closing holes.

If you’re looking for a favorite, don’t overlook Brooks Koepka, who has been relentless in his pursuit of the game’s biggest events over the last four years. He finished 2nd-1st-2nd in the first three Grand Slam events in 2019 after winning the U.S. Open and PGA Championship to close the 2018 major schedule. Royal Portrush will be Koepka’s sixth appearance in The Open and he posted top-10 finishes in 2015 at St. Andrews and 2017 at Royal Birkdale. Not that Koepka needs an extra edge, but he’ll enjoy one. Longtime caddie Ricky Elliott, a fine player in his own right, is a Royal Portrush member who has played the course at least 300 times.

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell also enjoy their share of course knowledge around Portrush and each is certain to receive rousing support from the local well-wishers.

Tiger Woods is in Thailand on vacation with his family and not expected to make another tournament appearance before The Open. Taking a similar length layoff did not benefit Woods at the PGA Championship – he missed the cut.

While Koepka is the clear frontrunner in Vegas (6-1 odds), the bookmakers don’t like Woodland’s chances to earn a second consecutive major championship. He’s 50-1.

Meet the PerryGolf Concierge Drivers: Angus McIntosh

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 an ongoing series, during which we’ll profile the devoted, diligent Concierge Drivers who help PerryGolf guests: Play the Game. See the World.

(Learn more about PerryGolf Concierge Driver Neil Cruickshank)

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.”

Meet the PerryGolf Concierge Drivers: Neil Cruickshank

 

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 first in an ongoing series, during which we’ll profile the devoted, diligent Concierge Drivers who help PerryGolf guests, Play the Game. See the World.    

One of Neil Cruickshank’s first encounters with golf occurred in 1977 at Turnberry.

Armed with a degree in hotel management, Cruickshank landed a job at the famous hotel adjacent to the course in Scotland where American legends Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus staged their epic Duel in the Sun in The 106th Open.

The evening after the final round, Nicklaus, accompanied by wife Barbara, entered the hotel’s main dining room. They received a standing ovation and hearty round of applause from the other diners and guests, Cruickshank recalls. Minutes later, Watson entered to a polite, yet somewhat muted response. Perhaps the young American had yet to fully win the hearts of Scotland; their special mutual relationship accelerated that day, however, as Watson’s second consecutive 65 nipped Nicklaus and earned his second Claret Jug. He finished his career with five, tying the modern record, and, at age 59, missed a sixth by inches at Turnberry in 2009.

The storied Ailsa Course at Trump Turnberry, as it’s known today, remains one of Cruickshank’s favorite places to take his PerryGolf clients. He’s spent the last two years as a Concierge Driver, after enjoying a long, successful career in the hotel and service industry. A golfer for 50-odd years, he’s never played the game particularly well but that hasn’t curbed his enthusiasm for rounds on legendary links like Royal Dornoch or Turnberry, which he feels is even better following architect Martin Ebert’s massive renovation in 2016.

Regardless the destination, Cruickshank, 59, enjoys his role as Tour host because of the friendships and relationships built during the week-to-10-days spent together.

Book a PerryGolf Custom Tour 

“It’s two-fold,” Cruickshank said in a phone interview. “We’re making the trips a trip of a lifetime for a guy, seeing their enjoyment and excitement of the trip. We deal with all the detail. That’s all it takes and seeing all that is exciting. Meeting the new people and going back to old style hotel keeping where you are really taking care of your customers.”

Cruickshank possesses enormous pride in all portions of his native Scotland, from the rich culture to the natural beauty and certainly the golf which is beyond compare. He’s also a particularly fervent supporter of the national rugby union team and plans to travel to Japan to support them in the World Cup in 2019.

Then again, traveling is old hat for Cruickshank. Clad in a kilt, he was a volunteer greeter during the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine and ranks that as perhaps the ultimate sporting experience. The journey to Minnesota also enabled him to reconnect with former PerryGolf clients who reside in the States and have become friends through the years. It’s not unusual for Cruickshank to receive a photo text message when one is playing a top 100 layout on a particularly pleasant day, trying to make him a touch jealous – all in good fun, of course.

These relationships are the backbone of the experience for Cruickshank.

“It’s strange how quickly it does develop,” he said. “When you meet them at the airport they are so excited, like children at Christmastime or in a candy store. They are a joy to be with and that becomes infectious.”

“You get caught up with their excitement, just think about the next round of golf and talk about their previous round of golf, get to know them really quickly. There’s no barriers, away from their home environment, it’s quite amazing how much you learn about them and their family. You’re with them for big chunks of the day, really do build a bond with them.”

6 Nights, 6 Rounds in the Scottish Highlands and St. Andrews

Cruickshank relies on decades of experience in the service industry to determine the ideal agenda for each set of guests. Some might desire the fine dining options available across Scotland while others simply seek sustenance to survive until the next round of golf. Whatever their preference, his role as concierge driver demands that the clubs and luggage are always safe and secure while golfers arrive at the course well in advance of their starting time.

“Everything is labeled and I always check how many bags they have,” he said. “Many of our hotels have a golf storage. Each morning we get the clubs out and off we go. I check with the golf courses to make sure everything is in place. If caddies have been requested … we pride ourselves at PerryGolf on being one step ahead.”

The seasonal schedule (April – October due to daylight restrictions in the spring and fall) serves Cruickshank well at this point in his life. Married with three children, two of whom live in Glasgow and one who lives at home, serving as Concierge Driver on roads and in towns he knows so intimately enable him to provide a comfortable experience for all clients.

Memories lasting a lifetime are made on these trips to golf’s most hallowed grounds. Links that have tested the greatest golfers through the generations accompanied by dozens of hidden gems make every trip unforgettable and golfers anxious to return. Years like this one, which have been dry and seasonably warm, only amplify the expectations. With drivers like Cruickshank behind the wheel, clients feel confident they’ll be steered around Scotland in the best of hands.

2021 Open Championship – Old Course at St Andrews

PerryGolf guests on our 2015 Open Championship Golf Cruise enjoyed Sunday attendance to The Open at St Andrews
The 150th Open Championship returns to St Andrews, Scotland in 2021 as the Old Course plays host for the 30th time, from July 15-18, 2021. Most recently the Old Course at St Andrews hosted The Open in 2015, when Zach Johnson was crowned Champion Golfer of the Year after defeating Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen in a four hole playoff. Read more “2021 Open Championship – Old Course at St Andrews”

Everything You Need to Know About The Old Course & St Andrews

VIEW RECORDING - How To Get A Tee Time On The Old Course At St Andrews

Everything You Need to Know About The Old Course & St Andrews

In the WEBINAR PODCAST, Gordon Dalgleish – President of PerryGolf – explained the various options available for arranging play on golf’s original course plus he shared some advice on how to play this most idiosyncratic of links courses. We also talked about the local lodging choices along with a few minutes about the “Auld Grey Toon” herself which is every bit as interesting as the golf.

The Old Course is a remarkable round of golf. Obviously because of the history. Certainly because of the surroundings. But when you know that even though it hasn’t changed materially since 1794 – yet it hosted its 29th Open Championship in 2015 – it’s clear this is a golf course that stands the test of time (and technology) unlike any other in the world. The uniqueness of the experience is why we have built our company around St Andrews.

The 2018 season begins an important era at the Old Course of St Andrews. St Andrews Links Trust takes back control of the allocation of all their commercial starting times, the responsibility for which was outsourced to a third party for the past twenty years. PerryGolf has done business with St Andrews Links Trust since 1984, the longest such relationship of any existing tour operator. PerryGolf has accepted an invitation to become an Authorized Provider, and in doing so continues this long held and valued association with the Trust. Our season long allocation of starting times for 2018 ensures we are in a very strong position to accommodate clients from around the world who seek to make the pilgrimage to the Home of Golf with secure and guaranteed advance arrangements to play The Old Course.


Sample Tours – Scotland Golf Packages

Early Booking deposit is only $500* per person.
Plus, any booking deposited by September 15 that includes the Old Course will receive a $400 credit to our First or Business Class fares with British Airways. Details here.

Turnberry & St Andrews
6 Nights | 6 Rounds

St Andrews & Aberdeen
6 Nights | 6 Rounds

Scottish Highlands & St Andrews
6 Nights | 6 Rounds

 

Golf, Castles & Gardens
7 Nights | 4 Rounds | 3 Garden Tours

 
Plan your own Golf Vacation with PerryGolf
We always welcome the chance to assist you personally on

800.344.5257 or Information@PerryGolf.com.

Plan your own Golf Vacation with PerryGolf
To learn more about the Old Course and its history, click here.

How To Get A Tee Time on the Old Course, St Andrews

2018 Availability for the Old Course, St Andrews - PerryGolf is an Authorised Provider of Guaranteed Tee Times

VIDEO - Click To Watch

 

 

About the Author: Harrison Gould is the Social Media Marketing Manager of PerryGolf, a leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.