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.

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.”


Royal Troon Golf Club, Ayrshire, Scotland

Royal Troon Golf Club, Ayrshire, Scotland 
Royal Troon Golf Club hosted its ninth Open Championship in 2016, a tradition that began with its first in 1923. Found five miles north of Prestwick on Scotland’s west coast, the club was founded in 1878. Read more “Royal Troon Golf Club, Ayrshire, Scotland”


Getting to and from Machrihanish is now even easier!

The Kintyre Express, which operates a boat to and from Campbeltown for golfers coming from Turnberry and Troon, has added a second boat to the fleet for the 2011 season which will make it much easier for groups to play both Machrihanish and the newly opened Machrihanish Dunes.  The result is that one vessel will now be based in Campbeltown and one in Troon meaning more groups will be able to make the trip across the Mull of Kintyre.

In addition to this, the new boat is an upgraded version, with larger engines, which will make it easier to keep to scheduled crossing times, even in rougher seas.  It also means crossings from Ayrshire to Northern Ireland are now much more achievable; so for groups staying at Turnberry, a hop across the water to play Royal Portrush is something that can now be seriously considered.

Images of the new boat are still to be published so watch this space for further details.

By Keith Baird.  Keith has been with PerryGolf for over 10 years and is one of our Golf Travel Specialists.


Western Gailes…Another of Scotland’s Hidden Gems

Scotland is home to many of the world’s finest courses.  In addition to the many Open Championship venues and bigger name courses, it is also home to some great courses which many people may not be aware of.  I would consider Western Gailes to be one of the best ‘hidden gems’ around; situated about 10 minutes from Troon, the course is a true test of links golf and one which I consider to be a ‘must play’ if you spend any time in the Ayrshire area.  Turnberry, Troon and Prestwick are all within striking distance of the course.

Normally I struggle to enjoy a golf course if I play badly, but Western Gailes is one of the few exceptions to my rule.  I remember being 6 over par and 3 balls lighter after 4 holes when I played, I also managed to break my pull cart (not through anger!) yet still managed to enjoy my round.  My fingers are crossed for another chance to play there this year and I will definitely be putting in some hours on the range to iron out my erratic driving.

Click here for more information on the course.

By Gary Sheppard.  Gary has been with PerryGolf for over 3 years and is one of our Golf Travel Specialists.


Machrihanish Golf Club with Kintyre Express

Machrihanish Golf Club is one of Scotland’s true hidden gems. Situated on the Southern tip of the Mull of Kintyre, the course is not easily accessible by road and is often excluded from itineraries purely because of its location. The journey time by road from Glasgow Airport is at least 3 hours, but by sea the time can be more than halved. Most people will travel to Machrihanish whilst spending time in Ayrshire – usually in Troon or Turnberry – and with the Kintyre Express making the journey much more achievable, I think it is an excellent addition to any schedule. Check out our website for more information on the Kintyre Express.

The PerryGolf team onboard the Kintyre Express
PerryGolf team onboard the Kintyre Express

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to play the course earlier this year and had an outstanding experience. Our departure time from Troon was 9:00am for an 11:30am tee-time – which was ideal as it gave me enough time to travel down from my home and stop for a bacon sandwich en-route. The journey between Troon and Campbeltown was quicker than I thought and Wilson Smith, the captain of the Kintyre Express, gave us a running commentary of the surrounding area as we progressed. When we arrived at Campbeltown Harbour, two taxis were waiting to transfer us to the golf course as Wilson had called in advance and made the reservation. After a short taxi journey, we arrived in time for a quick warm up, a few putts, and were then faced with the first tee-shot over a corner of the Atlantic – no warm up could have prepared me for that. I was delighted to walk to the 2ndtee with a par. The rest of the course did not disappoint; each hole had its own character and offered something a little bit different. Machrihanish is not a long course with the onus put on hitting the ball straight off the tee for good lines to the greens. They have recently added some new tees to the course and I’d recommend single figure handicapped players play from the blue tees – the club is quite relaxed and will accommodate players who wish to do so. After golf there was enough time for a light bite and a couple of pints before the taxis picked us up again to transfer us back to Campbeltown Harbour to meet Wilson and the Kintyre Express.

The entire day was a great experience which I’d recommend to anyone spending a couple of nights in Ayrshire. It is something a little bit quirky and a memorable way to add a course which is in the Top 100 in the World to your schedule.

By Gary Sheppard