Whilst playing on one of Scotland’s 550-plus golf courses, have you ever wished that there was more, that you could somehow incorporate the sport into other areas of your holiday? Well, fear not; here’s a round-up of golf-themed things to do which you can enjoy both on and off the course this summer:
1. See the Ryder Cup Heritage Exhibition, Perth Museum and Art Gallery
Until 14 September
You might have heard about this little golf tournament which is coming to Scotland this September for the first time since 1973 – it’s called The 2014 Ryder Cup? Well, if you’re keen to find out about its the humble beginnings back in 1923, see a range of fascinating memorabilia (including a replica cup!) and find out how it came to be a big fixture on the golfing stage, then this exhibition is for you.
2. Discover The Art of Golf, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh
12 July − 26 October
Putting the spotlight on golf’s heritage, this exhibition tracks the historic game through art. Starting with 17th century European paintings of the game’s ancestor ‘kolf’ it then moves on to the origins of golf in Scotland with early links artwork. I’m most looking forward to seeing the stylised glamour of the 20th century golf-themed railway posters, but for many the highlight is bound to be the iconic painting by Charles Lees – The Golfers (1847), which depicts the Old Course at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews, Fife.
3. Play hickory golf at Gleneagles, Perthshire
Until 31 July
This year, Gleneagles not only hosts the Ryder Cup, but the hotel is also turning 90-years-old. Suitably, they are celebrating in jolly 1920s style by offering guests and visitors the chance to experience golf as it would have been played in 1924. So gather a group together and grab the chance to play the PGA National Academy Course using original wooden hickory clubs and the larger golf balls of yesteryear. If you’re keen, you could even don some plus-fours?
Hickory golf can also be played year-round on the restored 9-hole Kingarrock Course in Cupar, Fife. I love the idea of stepping in front of the mansion house, getting my hands on 100-year-old clubs and having a leisurely afternoon, all rounded off with a glass of ginger beer!
Founded in 1887, Dunfermline Golf Club is celebrating their strong connections with the export of golf to America at the end of the 19th century. During their Ryder Cup Celebration weekend on 19 – 21 September, they will be unveiling a special heritage wall to go with a statue of club founder members Robert Lockhart and John Reid who played integral roles.
Both had emigrated from Scotland to the USA when Robert travelled back to his homeland and returned with some golf clubs. Known for playing with John Reid in Central Park, he went on to found the St Andrews Golf Club of New York. The interactive wall will inform and remind visitors of the part these golfers played in establishing the game in the States.
Understandably, the club are very excited about the Ryder Cup coming to Scotland, and their special weekend of events will include a shotgun competition which can be entered by members and visitors alike, a ceilidh, gala dinner and heritage tours of the local area.
5. Take the Royal Scotsman golf tour, departs from Edinburgh
22 – 26 September
If you’re looking to push the boat out and experience a luxurious golf trip like no other, then boarding a luxury steam train to watch the Scottish countryside whizz by before stepping out to play on world-class courses has got to be right up your street. Play championship golf course such as Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus and Castle Stuart Golf Links in the Highlands, stop off at fine whisky distilleries, visit historic attractions and soak up stunning scenery on the way. Sounds dreamy.
More great Scottish golf
And that’s just the tip of the tee! This is a bumper year of golf in Scotland; find out more about great events, must-visit courses, itineraries, and updates on major competitions by liking us on our Home of Golf Facebook page and following @RyderCup2014 on twitter.