Frequently asked golf questions

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  • Looking across the 4th hole at Cruden Bay Golf Course, with Port Errol in the background.
    Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire
  • Wide shot of golfers playing at the King's Links Golf Course at the beach front in Aberdeen
    The King's Links Golf Course
  • Looking between trees towards a green on Lamlash Golf Club, Isle of Arran
    Lamlash Golf Club, Isle of Arran

Find out the answers to common golf questions about Scotland, whether you want to know how to play Open Championship Courses, what to wear, get Ryder Cup 2014 tickets, book accommodation and hire clubs, or learn more about the history of golf in Scotland, the Home of Golf.

How can I get tickets for The Ryder Cup 2014?

The ballot for match day tickets is now closed, however there are still tickets available for practice days.

How do I find out where I can play?

With over 500 golf courses throughout Scotland, selecting which ones to play can be a daunting task.

If you have an area in mind, and would like to know what courses are nearby, then explore the courses by region, or search the golf listings.

It’s also possible to find out about the types of courses available and use golf itineraries as inspiration for where to play.

There are a number of passes, offers and tours which may also be useful when deciding where to play.

Where can I stay and play golf in Scotland?

Every region boasts excellent courses as well as a range of accommodation which will cater for all your golfing needs. Many golf courses have adjoining club hotels and resorts.

VisitScotland runs a Golfers Welcome Scheme, which recognises establishments who make a special effort to provide additional facilities for visitors with an interest in golf.

Many golf courses have associated hotels and resorts, as well as nearby accommodation, ranging from hotels and B&Bs to self-catering options and hostels.

There are also a range of golf tours, passes and offers available to take advantage of.

How do you get to play on an Open Championship golf course?

The current venues for the open rota are St Andrews, Turnberry, Muirfield, Royal Troon and Carnoustie, and they are all available for visitors to play, as well as Prestwick, where the Open began.

St Andrews Old Course

The Old Course is immensely popular and sustains around forty two thousand rounds a year. As a result of this high demand, special conditions apply to bookings.

Around fifty per cent of all starting times over the year are put into the daily ballot (lottery) which is drawn every day for the play in two days time, except on a Friday, as the Old Course is closed on Sundays.

Success in the ballot is not guaranteed and chances vary according to how busy the course is and the weather. Two golfers (min) can enter. Either telephone or apply in person before 2pm two days before play.

The ballot results are shown by 4.30pm on the same day as the draw and are displayed online, in various locations around St Andrews, and players can also phone for the results.

If players are unsuccessful in the ballot, it is possible to queue in the morning at the Old Course where the starter might allow players to join with two-or three-ball matches, but this play is not guaranteed.

It is also possible to book guaranteed tee times up to a year in advance online, by email, or by telephone.

Muirfield 

Muirfield is open to visitors on Tuesdays and Thursdays and can usually take bookings up to a year in advance. The online Tee Time Availability System can be used to check available times and book. Further booking guidance is available on the Muirfield website.

Royal Troon

It’s possible to book tee time and request information on the Royal Troon website.

Prestwick 

Visitors can play the course every day, except Thursday afternoons, Saturdays and bank holidays. It is possible to make bookings by telephone and email, and they will require a deposit.

Turnberry 

At Turnberry, residents should never encounter a problem securing a tee time but the famous links is also accessible to visitors who are not staying there. It is possible to book by telephone or email.

Carnoustie

Carnoustie is open daily and visitors can reserve tee times for Carnoustie online, by email or by phone.

When is the best time of year to play golf in Scotland?

Golf can be played in Scotland all year round. The main golfing season starts in April and goes through to the end of September. The busiest months are May and September so to avoid disappointment we advise you book well in advance.

In the height of summer June, July and August the golf courses are in the best condition. Golf is played by Scots throughout the winter and many club golfers will play in winter leagues; especially on links and coastal courses due to their proximity to the sea.

Why is it possible to play till 10.00pm in the evening?

Many comment on this ability in Scotland to play golf late into the evening. It is due to Scotland being in Northern Europe and enjoying extensive daylight hours over the summer months. From late May until early September it starts to get light at 5am and does not get dark until 10pm.

During the summer months many golf courses will be open between 7am and 8am. We always recommend that you check with the golf course directly as early tee times can be set aside for members.

In Shetland there is a midsummer golf tournament which takes place every year during Summer Solstice and tees off at midnight. Find out about other golf events throughout the year.

What is a links course?

A links golf course, sometimes referred to as a seaside links is the oldest style of golf course, first developed in Scotland, where golf originated. The word comes from the Scots language and refers to an area of coastal sand dunes.

The links courses tend to be located in coastal areas, on sandy soil, often amid dunes, with few water hazards and few if any trees. This reflects both the nature of the scenery where the sport happened to originate, and the fact that only limited resources were available to golf course architects at the time, and any earth moving had to be done by hand, so it was kept to a minimum.

It is believed that the term ‘links’ comes from the fact that the land used for golf originally was the land near the sea that was not good for farming. This land was between the sea and the farmland and thus was a link between the two.

Where can I find out about the history of golf in Scotland?

A great place to start is by visiting the golf history section of this website. St Andrews in The Kingdom of Fife is home to the British Golf Museum, and local and national museums also exhibit on the history of the sport.

Can I hire golf clubs and equipment when I arrive?

Many of the golf clubs hire out equipment to visitors. Use the course search to find out if this facility is available. We recommend contacting the golf course directly to double check and booking in advance where possible to avoid disappointment. It is also possible to hire clubs privately through specialist suppliers, such as Golf Gear Hire.

What clothing should I bring with me?

When playing golf in Scotland we recommend that you come prepared, as the weather can be a little unpredictable. Pack a woollen sweater and a set of waterproofs. Also, it is worth remembering to bring the right clothing for inside the clubhouse. Many clubs operate a dress code where jeans, collarless shirts and trainers are not welcome. It is best to check directly with the golf club.

What about currency and credit cards?

As with every part of the world a range of payment methods is recommended when travelling. In Scotland most hotels, restaurants, bars and retail outlets will accept the main credit and debit cards. We do advise that you carry £ sterling with you, as many smaller businesses do not take cards. This is the same for golf courses, so it’s best to enquire about payment methods before you arrive.

Please note, in Scotland when using your debit or credit card you can no longer sign for your transactions. Instead you have to enter your PIN (Personal Identification Number) in order to complete the transaction.

I hear golf can be expensive in Scotland?

This is a great misconception. The average cost of a round of golf in Scotland is around £40. Some 9-hole courses cost as little as £13 for a day ticket, such as Musselburgh Old Golf Course (one of the oldest golf courses in the world) and you can find very reasonably priced quality links golf such as the Strathtyrum Course in St Andrews at £25 a round.

The championship courses can be more expensive, but for the experience many would say money well spent. Green fees vary greatly and some golf courses will operate a reduced fee at certain times of the year. It is worth looking at the discount golf passes, which can offer substantial savings, and at golf tour options.  

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