Enjoy The 149th Open at Royal St. George’s on a PerryGolf Cruise

Who will conquer the field and hoist The Claret Jug in 2020? The dunes around The Maiden (no. 6) are a fantastic place to follow the action.

This summer, join PerryGolf and partner Azamara® and travel from Dublin to Southampton on the elegant 690-guest Azamara Pursuit, visiting nine ports, playing six courses and attending the final two days of The 149th Open at Royal St. George’s.

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Meet the PerryGolf Concierge Drivers: Joe Marshall

Joe Marshall (right) and fellow PerryGolf concierge driver Gerry Martin enjoyed meeting Tom Watson, 5-time champion of The Open, while accompanying clients to Royal Dornoch.

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

Patience and a sense of humor.

Those are the keys to thriving as a PerryGolf Concierge Driver the way Joe Marshall sees it.

Marshall would know, of course, having served in that capacity for nearly two decades, shepherding clients around his native Scotland, pointing them toward the pubs and restaurants where they can hang with the locals, taste the flavor and savor each experience on their trip.

“It’s my hobby as well as a job,” Marshall said. “When I stop enjoying it, I’ll stop doing it. I like golf, I like working with people. I’ve made a lot of friends over the years at the golf courses and with the regular clients.”

It was through a friendship with another member at his home club that Marshall’s tenure with PerryGolf began. John Finnegan competed against PerryGolf co-founder Colin Dalgleish on the amateur golf circuit and was working as a concierge driver in 2000 when he told Marshall the company was expanding its tours.

Marshall, 60, was working as a taxicab driver in Glasgow at the time. He jumped at the chance to pilot golfers around the land where he’s lived his entire life and where the game was born.

“I had no experience in this line of work,” he said.

He adapted quickly and excelled easily, understanding that on certain tours there might be as many as 16 golfers, pulling in different directions, each having a unique vision of the ideal golf vacation.

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“There are only so many things you can do in a day,” Marshall said. “People are here to have fun. They want to laugh.”

Marshall keeps the mood light and the spirits high. He chuckles when clients arrive in Scotland with predetermined notion of the restaurants and pubs they should visit in the evening.

“They’ll look at guide books and think they know where they want to go,” he said. “The places that are listed in guide books, I reckon they’ve paid advertising fees to get in there. Very few are the ones I would use, I like the local flavor in St. Andrews, Turnberry and Troon.”    

As for his own golf game, Marshall said he’s never won anything other than the ‘odd five pounds’ in a match the club where he’s belonged his entire adult life, Haggs Castle Golf Club. The course, built in 1910, is a parkland layout considered one of the best in western Scotland. For many years it was site of the Glasgow Open and in 1986, the Scottish Open, won by television commentator and host David Feherty.

Near the end of a tour, it’s typical for clients to start planning ahead to their next visit to Scotland, wanting to experience the courses and cultures of one of the country’s unique regions, from the Highlands to Ayrshire to Aberdeen.

With a slight prod, Marshall lists his favorite links in Scotland: The Ailsa Course at Trump Turnberry, basking in the light of its recent renovation; Kingsbarns, host of the Dunhill Links and the first Scottish course to be built on linksland in 70 years when it opened in 2000; Royal Dornoch – an absolute must play for aficionados of prolific architect Donald Ross, who designed more than 400 courses in the United States.

You probably won’t enjoy the good fortune which spun toward Marshall and a group of PerryGolf clients on a trip to Royal Dornoch. They were honored to meet Tom Watson, the American legend and one of the first to convey to the golfing world the joy awaiting on the ancient links where Ross apprenticed under Old Tom Morris.

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However, having been there many times, Marshall will offer this piece of advice for those venturing north to the Highlands to play Royal Dornoch – play it twice, on consecutive days because the first round is certain to present a challenge quite fierce.

Marshall remains happily busy during the golf season from April to October, helping host a variety of trips with groups as large as 16 people and lasting anywhere from 5 to 12 days.

During the winter, he rests – as much as his seven grandchildren will allow.

His four sons and daughter all live within a five-mile radius of his home in Glasgow.

“They keep me on my toes,” he said.

He always looks forward to resuming his duties behind the wheel. Like other longtime PerryGolf concierge drivers, Marshall relishes the relationships formed through the years.

“It’s good when you get to know some of the clients,” he said. “Over the years we’ve become friends. And we stay in touch two or three times a year and get to know our families … build a bond and a friendship.”

The 147th Open at Carnoustie: Looking back and looking ahead

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.

PerryGolf guests tee off with the iconic Stevenson Lighthouse in the background at the Trump Turnberry Ailsa course, a member of The Open rota.

 

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.

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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.’

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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.

PerryGolf guests enjoy a welcome dinner onboard Azamara Journey as they cruise the British Isles and attend The Open at Carnoustie.

The 3 Best Golf Clusters in the World

Golf Digest ranked The Royal Melbourne West Course No. 6 in the World in 2016.

 

Traveling across the world to play golf and absorb the culture is a thrilling opportunity, one to be seized and relished. Once you arrive at your destination, however, it’s a nice perk if there are many exceptional golf courses located within a small radius. Then you can simply unpack your bags, settle in, and spend more time chasing birdies, enjoying the scenery and your companions while you spend less time traveling between your accommodations and the first tee.

These three remarkable clusters, located around the globe, offer exceptional, unforgettable golf, enabling you to play the world’s finest layouts while limiting your travel time. Each area is serviced by PerryGolf through an array of Custom ToursEscorted Tours and Cruises.

 

 

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA  

With a population of more than 4.5 million, Melbourne is a beautiful, culturally intense cosmopolitan city in Victoria on the southeast coast of Australia. Combining delightful winter weather and friendly English-speaking people with an entertainment and gastronomic wonderland, it’s easy to see why Melbourne is a popular destination for curious and adventurous global visitors.

Complementing the charm is this delicious appeal to golfers: Just a half-hour drive south of downtown is the Sandbelt region and some of the highest ranked golf courses in Australia – and the world.

“Australia has the ability to become a golfing destination on par with Ireland,” PerryGolf president and co-founder Gordon Dalgleish said following a recent trip Down Under.

Of course any mention of Sandbelt golf starts with the wonderful layouts at the oldest club in Australia, Royal Melbourne’s East and West. The West course, designed by the legendary Alister MacKenzie is routinely Top 10 in the World and No. 1 in Australia while the East course is Top 100 in the World as well. Royal Melbourne played host to the Presidents Cup in 1998 and welcomes the matches back in 2019.

Just down the road is Kingston Heath, designed by Australian pro Des Soutar in 1925 with  an assist from MacKenzie, who suggested the bunkering. The course entertained the World Cup of Golf in 2016 and received glowing reviews from the world’s elite professionals for its conditioning and playability. Metropolitan Golf Club might be less well known on a global scale, yet it features bunkers carved into the edges of the greens, a feature unique to the region. Beware the slick but smooth undulating bentgrass putting surfaces.

Golfers interested in onsite lodging coupled with a world class championship challenge will relish the opportunity to visit Victoria Golf Club, site of the 2011 Australian Masters (won by Ian Poulter). The design is credited to William Meader, Oscar Damman and MacKenzie and noted golf writer Geoff Shackleford described their work as such: “I can’t think of a better compliment. You would never tire of playing it on a daily basis.”

Commonwealth is yet another course holding a spot in the rotation for the major men’s and women’s championships held each November and December in Australia. Beware the beautiful yet daunting dogleg left par-4, No. 16 where you’ll face a demanding drive from an elevated tee to a landing area guarded by a large water hazard. Yarra Yarra is a historic layout nearby that features four of the finest par-3s anywhere and the Woodlands Golf Club is a fine, fair test which has encompassed the spirit of the Sandbelt since 1913.

 

LANCASHIRE COAST, ENGLAND

Golfers wanting to trace the steps of the Open Champion in a history-rich land loaded with exquisite golf must visit this region on the west coast of England.

Encompassing towns such as Liverpool and Southport, golfers can walk in the footsteps of every great champion to ever form a grip and swing a shaft, spanning generations from hickory to graphite.

Let us start with the three courses in the Open rota: Royal Birkdale played host to golf’s oldest championship 10 times from 1954 to 2017 and enjoys an impressive list of champions, with legends like Palmer, Watson and Trevino hoisting the Claret Jug here. The young American star Jordan Spieth added his name to the prestigious list last summer, finishing with a furious flurry to overtake fellow countryman Matt Kuchar.

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Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s opened its current course in 1897 and boasts its own rich tradition. Designed originally by the pro George Lowe and later altered by the prolific Harry S. Colt, Lytham & St. Anne’s was the site of Bobby Jones’ Open victory in 1926, four years prior to his remarkable Grand Slam. The course has welcomed the Open 11 times, most recently in 2012 when Ernie Els claimed his third major title.

Returning to the Open rota in recent years was England’s second-oldest seaside course, Royal Liverpool, also known as Hoylake. In the land where The Beatles formed and catapulted to stardom, another mega star, Tiger Woods, strategically dissected the course and outdueled a quartet of competitors by two shots.

While those are the most familiar courses in the area due to their visibility during the third week of July,  there are additional options within a short car ride available to golfers visiting the Lancashire Coast.

Southport & Ainsdale, established 1906, was designed by James Braid, a five-time Open Champion, member of the Great Triumvirate and renowned architect. S&A is also a two-time Ryder Cup host (1933, 1937) and features a spectacular clubhouse and patio, delivering sweeping views of the rolling dunes and dicey heather and gorse. West Lancashire is a stern test, which has undergone many incarnations over the last 140 years. The current design is credited to C.K. Cotton and is certain to please, delight and challenge as golfers battle the brisk breezes and swift rolling terrain. Any listing of the area’s finest would be incomplete without Formby, established in 1884 and widely considered one of British Isles’ finest links. Birkdale, Liverpool and Lytham are all within a 45-minute drive of Formby, which stretches to 7,028 yard from the back tees and offers few, if any, flat lies in the fairways.

 

AYRSHIRE, SCOTLAND

Lancashire’s neighbors to the north would surely argue, over a friendly pint no doubt, that their area is steeped in history and tradition equal to anywhere in the world. Scotland is, after all, the Home of Golf and the first ever Open Championship was played in Ayrshire in 1860.

The county in southwest Scotland is located on the Firth of Clyde and is the home to an array of links, spanning more than 150 years of design philosophies and alterations, spiked with the ever present and often gusty breezes.

Royal Troon has been the host for the Open Championship on nine occasions from 1923-2016.

Royal Troon is known for the infamous Postage Stamp green, which turns the 123-yard par-3 No. 12 into a threat more menacing than the yardage might suggest. The hole is just one piece of the puzzle that forms the inward nine, where many a player has watched the Claret Jug slip out of his dreams and vanish into the ether above South Bay.

Trump Turnberry Resort (Ailsa) checked in at No. 22 in the world in the most recent Golf Digest world rankings after undergoing a massive renovation engineered by architect Martin Ebert. The course re-opened in June 2016 and features significant changes since the 2009 Open Championship when American legend Tom Watson, 59 years old at the time, lost his bid for a sixth Claret Jug to Stewart Cink in heartbreaking fashion.

A regular site of final Open qualifying, Gailes Links showcases the genius of architect Willie Park Jr. because he designed it in 1903 and other than the addition of a handful of new back tees, the course remains intact is relevant, challenging and playable. “One of the world’s truly great tests of links golf,” is how former Masters and Open Champion Sandy Lyle described the course.

Tucked between the railway and the sea, Western Gailes features seven holes to the north of the clubhouse and 11 holes to the south, with no hole spared from the howling winds ripping across off the Firth of Clyde. From Vardon to Sarazen to Watson to the best of the current era, the appreciation for this links runs deep among pros and amateurs alike. Prestwick is where the Open Championship began in 1860, beginning a glorious run for golf’s longest-running competition. Located a half-hour from Glasgow, the course measures more than 6,900 yards at par-71 from the championship tees and is a must-play for golf history buffs.

In the heart of the Ayrshire Golf Coast is Dundonald Links, familiar to some as host of the Scottish Open and Ladies Scottish Open in recent years. Designed by Kyle Phillips, this new member of this golf-rich region is a worthy addition, enhancing the overall portfolio and giving visitors yet another option to tackle during their trips here.

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