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Golfing/sightseeing Scotland vacation -- please help me get started!

Golfing/sightseeing Scotland vacation -- please help me get started!

Old May 31st, 2017, 09:36 AM
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Golfing/sightseeing Scotland vacation -- please help me get started!

May 2018, two (perhaps three) couples will be traveling from Texas to Scotland. Trip itinerary is being planned primarily around the "golfer". He is a great player and will be playing three or four links courses. While he is golfing we are sightseeing the countryside, castles, etc. We very much enjoy lengthy dining on local fare with good wines (I guess we need to add whiskey since we are in Scotland).

I generally suggest an itinerary to the other couples. I have spent several hours trying to figure out a route -- appreciate your help in getting a better handle. My wife and I have been to Scotland once before. This trip will be 12 days (mas or menos) -- including two travel days. Price is always a factor, but it is more important to select hotels that are unique in character to the country -- no Holiday Inns or Hiltons. Our golfer is thinking Edinburgh/St. Andrews; Aberdeen; and Troon Prestwick area. We would add say 3 nights in the best 'other' part of Scotland (e.g., Balquhidder, Invergarry, etc.). As a genera rule, we like to stay three nights at any hotel so we are not constantly packing and unpacking.

Here is my preliminary thinking on hotels. Arrive Edinburgh and stay Inn On The Mile. Stay at the Islay House if we go to Islay. Cannot find a hotel with character yet in Aberdeen area. We stayed before at the Monachyle Mhor in Balquhidder and the Glengarry Castle Hotel in Invergarry. Converted castles sound fun. Same for Prestwick -- cannot find hotel.

Appreciate any help you can give with a route, also any converted castle hotels, etc. Is it worth going to Islay (looks challenging with time restrictions), etc.. Our golfer enjoys (and knows) his whiskey. Other than the golfing destinations what is the other most scenic interesting part of Scotland -- so we can combine his golfing and our sightseeing.

Thanks for help. I love doing research but it is always very helpful to get some initial ideas from more knowledgeable travelers or locals.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 09:55 AM
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>>I guess we need to add whiskey whisky since we are in Scotland>This trip will be 12 days (mas or menos) -- including two travel days.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 12:27 PM
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Have come up with a DRAFT itinerary. Appreciate your advice/adjustments for vacation for last two weeks of next May:

Golfer and his wife arrive Edinburgh few days early. He will play some or all of St. Andrews (Old Course); Muirfield and North Berwick. Wife will walk Royal Mile and drink wine. Thinking Inn On The Mile. QUESTIONS - can golfer get to these links more easily without renting a car (Uber, golfer bus)? Thoughts.

Rest of party arrives Edinburgh and stays for two nights. Rent two cars and head for Fife for a day or two.

Then head for Inverness but with stop somewhere along the way. QUESTIONS - up through Pitlochry along Malt Whisky Trail. Best place/town to stay on way up to Inverness for at least a night? Would like to visit the best of the whiskey stills.

Then arrive Inverness for three nights. Golfer would head to Royal Dornoch (Championship). We would do what sightseers do. QUESTIONS - must see for sightseers.

Then -- it gets more fuzzy -- probably need a night along the way (Loch Ness) to Monachyle Mhor in Balquihidder for three nights. We stayed there before and loved the setting and the great food. QUESTIONS -- where to spend another night on way from Inverness to Balquihidder (any castles converted to hotels?); can the golfer get to Turnberry and Royal Troon easily enough from Monachyl Mhor?; must see for the sightseers?

Nights above -- give or take 12 above plus London plus golfer additional days. QUESTION -- do you see any natural places to cut one or two nights?

Then head to return cars and take train from Edinburgh to London.

Thanks for suggestions and observations.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 01:33 PM
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If the golfer knows his whiskey, he knows the Scots don't make whiskEy at all. Americans do, Japanese do, Irish do, even Aussies and Welsh do. Canadians and Scots don't.

This trip seems tailored to the tyranny of the golfer. You can take me and my wife instead and we'll show (and find) you great times in Scotland (we're also Texan).

I'd haul it from wherever you're going to depart (Fife?) to Inverness in a day. You can pass via Blair Atoll and Blair Castle. Pitlochry is overrated on a good day - it's a place for a lunch stop and buying random "let's buy Scottish crap" items. Traveling on the A9 will go past Dalwhinnie, which is the highest distillery in Scotland. The hooch isn't bad.

You're asking about must sees when no one knows what you're looking for.

And you're saying price is a factor but that's true for Russian gas oligarchs too, so what's the actual nightly budget?

We stayed at Maryculter House outside Aberdeen because Aberdeen is just ok and we were in the area for the castles. We figured out where to go in Aberdeen at night by following the road to the city and looking for the more well-lit areas thinking those would have more action, and we were right.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 01:48 PM
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Apologies if I misunderstand your proposed itinerary. If the entire group is planning on visiting Fife I don't get the golfer trying to play St Andrews while staying in Edinburgh. Why not wait for the Fife trip and play then? That would free up time to play Gullane which is right near Muirfield.

I may have another couple of comments but I will wait to see how unhelpful this comment was first.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 02:24 PM
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>> QUESTIONS - can golfer get to these links more easily without renting a car (Uber, golfer bus)?
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 02:37 PM
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>>"Wife will walk Royal Mile and drink wine."

This struck me as really funny ~ think she'd be more fun than her husband!
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 02:50 PM
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One way to make your trip planning easier is to let your golfer plan his own logistics to/from golf courses.

You've taken on the trip planning for 2 or 3 couples - that's fine, you're no doubt very good at it and like doing it. But there's probably no need to babysit/hand-hold your golfer.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 05:28 PM
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Duffer can get to N Berwick by train. But honestly, he needs to be planning his own stuff, not you. And he likely needs to bring his nice clothes, the Scots won't let him toddle around their links dressed for a Texas summer.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 05:35 PM
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Wow! I think we have brought out the haves and have not's. Thanks for some great questions - here we go:

1. This first DRAFT intends that we depart Edinburgh and head towards Inverness/Culloden. However, we are breaking up the trip by staying at - currently - Fife AND some place else. Fife so our "golfer" can play St. Andrews. The "tourist" will continue drinking wine or visiting pubs (is there a theme here) and sightseeing the area. I am looking for the other place to stay between Fife and Inverness. SUGGESTIONS?

2. What Scottish crap do you recommend - I want to be on the lookout? I will Google.

3. The tourist among us (including the golfer) relish old architecture, beautiful scenery (Texas is flat-except our beloved Hill Country), and outstanding pubs. Thanks, will research Blair Atoll and Blair Castle. Sounds like we will just pass through Pitlochry. Thanks for Dalwhinnie recommendation. Also being a Texan, you can understand I am just use to drinking "Lone Star".

4. We are all Texas oil billionaires - so no budgets. Look forward to reading about Maryculter House. This afternoon, between clipping coupons, I read about Culloden House to stay in Inverness. Any comments?

5. Yes, thanks, we will stay in Fife so the golfer can play St. Andrews. I misspoke. I have been reading about Rufflets - as our place to stay. Any thoughts?

6. Good observation, the wife is very funny (and I might brag about her, a world class artist). It sounds like I have done a very poor job of portraying the golfer. He is game for just about anything that appeals to the tourist.

7. Your right, the golfer will make his own logistics to and from golf courses. We did a similar trip to Ireland and I try to anticipate our fun planning sessions. AND thank you, I am good at putting together itineraries -- perhaps not anything else.

I love to do travel research but have not found in the usual sources a trip exactly what we are trying to put together.

Thank y'all (Texan) very much for your comments and suggestions. I love Fodors (and TripAdvisor). Please review my other questions contained above. We love to travel and appreciate the thoughts of more seasoned local travelers.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 06:25 PM
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Just on the (very) off chance that you are heading north from St Andrews to Inverness primarily so the golfer can play Royal Dornoch, convince him that he really would rather play Gleneagles instead (2014 Ryder Cup). Then you can continue on to Balquhidder. Then perhaps Ayr for Turnberry and Troon. That would save you some distance.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 06:46 PM
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>>convince him that he really would rather play Gleneagles instead (2014 Ryder Cup). Then you can continue on to Balquhidder.TOTALLY disagree. I have taken several golfing parties to Scotland -- and of the ones who played Royal Dornoch, it is hands down their favorite course. There was the 'bucket list' experience of the Old Course, sure - but for playing, Royal Dornoch it just about unbeatable.

Plus I would not stay in Balquhidder on this sort of trip. It is down a pretty glen and is where Rob Roy is buried -- but it is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

Having read more of your posts (but still have to go back and absorb before offering more concrete suggestions) -- the one thing I do suggest: I see no reason at all for the golfer/wife to travel ahead of you (unless it is simply because they have more time available). Every single place he might want to play -- St Andrews, Muirfield/North Berwick, Aberdeenshire, Dornoch, Ayrshire -- has more than enough to satisfy the non-golfers.

If he want links courses - I would not bother at all w/ the A9/center of the country/Pitlochry. You could fly in to EDI then do East Lothian/Edinburgh, Fife, Aberdeenshire, Dornoch, a couple of strictly sightseeing days down through the Great Glen/Glencoe, on to Ayrshire for Prestwick/Troon, fly out of GLA.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 06:55 PM
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Oh -- and to give you some idea - I've arranged rounds/visits for various friends on various trips at St Andrews, Kingsbarns, Crail, Lunden Links, Carnoustie, North Berwick, Cruden Bay, Gleneagles, Royal Dornoch, Prestwick, Troon, Machrihanish . . . and a cottage we rented that had a 9 hole course in the bottom of the garden where they played every evening after getting in from sightseeing.

I do suspect that Kingsbarns would rank up there w/ Dornoch but my sample size is too small -- only one of my friends has played it and that trip we didn't go up to Dornoch so no comparison . . .
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 07:10 PM
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I'm no golfer, but the Dornoch Castle Hotel is very nice, and I believe it's currently No.1 Whisky Hotel of the year. They have a whisky bar and regular whisky tasting. The area also offers plenty of options for non- golfers.

www.dornochcastlehotel.com
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 07:17 PM
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I've stayed at the Dornoch Castle hotel a couple of times -- Once in a posh room in the castle bldg and once in the modern garden wing. Highly recommended.

Oh - I notice you mention Rufflets. I stayed there once LOVED it - but that was back in the late 90's so no recent experience.
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Old Jun 8th, 2017, 02:46 PM
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Thanks all! I think it is coming together. What do you think?

General questions: please give me your opinion on hotels, itinerary, best pubs, too busy, etc. on each leg. Please excuse misspellings (still working on whisky), etc.

Links (for region purposes -- this is golfer's call)
Gullane Muirfield (Edinburgh Region)
St. Andrews Old Course (Fife Region)
Royal Dornoch (Highlands Region)
Turnberry/Royal Troon (Ayrshire Region)

Leg One - Edinburgh
Days 1,2,3 (Nights 1,2)
Stay Inn On The Mile
Links (Edinburgh)

Leg Two - Fife (St. Andrews)
Days 3,4,5 (Nights 3,4)
Stay Rufflets (or Old Course Hotel)
Links (St. Andrews)

Leg Three - Pitlochry
Days 5,6 (Night 5)
Blair Castle, Stirling, Distillers
Stay Knockendarroch

Leg Four - Nairn or Inverness
Days 6,7,8 (Night 6,7)
Stay Innernairne Hotel, Royal Dornoch
or Culloden House
Links (Highlands)
QUESTION: Hotel opinions!

Leg Five - Glencoe/Ballachulish
Days 8,9 (Night 8)
HOTEL OPINIONS please

Leg Six - ???????????????? BIG UNKNOWNS HERE
Days 9,10,11 (Night 9,10)
STAY QUESTION where is a good place to stay for
the two nights that will satisfy the sightseers AND
allow golfer to play Turnberry or Royal Troon?
Links (Ayrshire)

Leg Seven - London
Days 11,12,13 (Night 11,12)
Stay Duke Hotel
Edinburgh to London train
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Old Jun 8th, 2017, 03:21 PM
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Once again I'm dashing out so can't post any details. But you really must re-write your plan. 2 nights = 1 full day, 3 nights = 2 full days, etc. Plus you can't count the same date in two places. So just to get you started, the beginning of your plan would look like this:

<blue>Leg One - Edinburgh
Days 1,2 (Nights 1,2) </blue>(which nets just 1.5 days)

<blue>Leg Two - Fife (St. Andrews)
Days 3,4 (Nights 3,4) </blue>(Just a bit over 1.5 days)

and so on . . .
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Old Jun 8th, 2017, 05:34 PM
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Sorry for the confusion. Please, just look at the nights at each location. Would love to hear your comments.
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Old Jun 8th, 2017, 08:06 PM
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My main point was you aren't allowing as much time as you think in any of those destination. You haven't factored in the travel times.

So you have almost no time at all in Edinburgh (do clarify -- is the golfer/spouse still flying in ahead of you? ) If you arrive midday or early afternoon (jet lagged) and stay 2 nights you will have a grand total of one full day for Edinburgh.

The Fife bits -- again by the time you check out of Edinburgh, pick up your car(s) and drive to St Andrews, only staying 2 nights will give you a little over 1.5 days for St Andrews, Falkland, Crail, Anstruther, the Isle of May or anything else.

I honestly would not spend time in Pitlochry. Knockendarroch is a nice hotel -- but if it was me - I'd head up to Deeside instead and use that 1.5 days days for Dunottar, and the Castle trail. Maybe staying here http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/uni...RGV/index.html

Nairn or Inverness or Culloden is not a base for playing Royal Dornoch. Stay IN Dornoch. Nairn is a 90 minute drive to Dornoch. With just 2 nights there you will have a just a little over 1 full day so spending 3 hours driving plus the round - leaves nothing.

And London -- oh my (!) 2 nights, half a day spent traveling there, leaves 1.5 days for LONDON. Before I go farther -- you need to re figure every single leg -- and realize, IF you are using on-line mileage calculators you need to ad between 25% and nearly 100% to every drive time.

You need to 1) add time, or 2) cut destinations/courses. ESPECIALLY if you end up 3 couples since everything will take longer than a couple traveling.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 08:32 AM
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>

Not out in the Guadelupe Mountains it's not.

>

Nope. Not with Shiner in state.

The way your trip is currently set, your duffer will just be traveling from course to course and the rest of you will have relatively little touring time. Scottish roads aren't equivalent to ours - we have six-lane avenues in the cities, Scotland has a couple of roads with three lanes in each direction around Glasgow and the rest of the country is thrilled if there's a "dual carriageway" of two lanes each way. You can't do 150 miles in two hours there unless you're in a helicopter.

I'd consider scrapping Pitlochry and bombing up to the Inverness area because there are more than a few castles, Culloden, and other places to tour. Glenmorangie is only a little north of Inverness and offers tours.

You also need to determine if bouncing all around the country for the duffer to hit the links is conducive to the rest of the trip. Two nights in Edinburgh is short, two nights in London is a pittance.
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