You cannot contemplate the game of golf without acknowledging its genesis. Scotland is the birthplace of our beloved sport and is home to some of the greatest courses in the world. While in most areas of the globe golf is considered a bit of an elitist sport, here it is one of the national pastimes, as baseball is to the United States.
St Andrews, Scotland is recognized worldwide as the “home of golf.” A coastal town, located in Fife, a short drive from Dundee, and 30 miles outside Edinburgh, St Andrews holds quite a bit of history.
The first records of golf date back to the 15th century and the game was initially banned as it was seen as a distraction to military training. However, in 1502, King James IV had determined that the threat of battle with England had eased enough through the Treaty of Perpetual Peace, that the longstanding ban on the sport could be lifted. The Old Course in St Andrews is considered a pilgrimage site among golf enthusiasts, professionals and amateurs alike. A traditional links course that dates back to the 1500’s and has been home to more Open Championships than any other course. It’s pretty amazing to note that this course has remained a public course, but over half the tee times each year are awarded by ballot to individuals with suitable handicaps (24 for men & 36 for women) who have been unable to obtain advanced bookings. Jack Nicklaus has praised the course as one of his favorites and went on to say that if a golfer expects to be remembered, he had better win here.
The Castle Course is the newest course at St Andrews, opening in 2008. With dramatic views across the North Sea, The Castle Course rests on a rugged cliff and is a great location for players looking for a challenge. The 17th hole has been rated the best par 3 in the U.K. by Today’s Golfer magazine. The clubhouse boasts even more spectacular views and is worth a stop during your visit.
We head west for 75 min and get to Gleneagles, a luxury resort in Auchterarder, Perth and Kinross, Scotland. This resort hosts four courses including The King’s Course, designed by James Braid, the leading golf course designer in the 1920s and 1930s. Opened in 1919 for play the King's course hosted the first informal Ryder Cup match between Great Britain and the USA in 1921. The trick to mastering this course is in choosing the right club on your approach. With deceiving distances and changing winds down the fairway, the challenge this course presents is sure to develop a new level of play. Dramatic landscapes with panoramic views make for an unforgettable experience on one of the world’s most popular courses.
Gleneagles was the host for the 2014 Ryder Cup Tour, where the United States and Europe battled on Scottish soil for the first time in 40 years. This time the tournament was played on the PGA Centenary Course designed by the Golden Bear. Nicklaus stated that this was a challenging course to design, but that it was “the finest parcel of land in the world that I have ever been given to work with.” Hosting the 2019 Solheim Cup, this course has graded tees in five levels allowing for players of all skill sets to enjoy all it has to offer.
While in Scotland you must find time to visit a distillery or two. What began as uisge beatha or “water of life,” has evolved over the years into one of the most complex and elegant spirits. It is an acquired taste, much easier to acquire when you have the right bottle placed in front of you. Scotch improves with age, much like a fine wine, so if a taste of a 1950’s scotch comes your way be sure to savor every drop.
The Macallan is the most popular scotch whisky in the world and is the single malt scotch against which all others are measured against. Their use of unique small stills allows for maximum contact with the copper, which helps to develop their unique flavor profile. These stills are so famous they have even been on banknotes of the Bank of Scotland. Perhaps the most important component in the development of the world’s most recognized single malt scotch are the exceptional oak casks. These casks are responsible for the evolution of flavor, color, aroma and quality of the spirit after it leaves the stills. Therefore, The Macallan spends more than any other distillery on the sourcing, crafting, seasoning and caring for its casks.
The Glenlivet, also located in Speyside, was founded in the 1800s. At this time there was a whisky smuggling epidemic with over 200 distilleries located in the glen this distillery calls home. A visit to The Glenlivet will literally walk you through history as you travel the path bootleggers would take. Enjoy a tasting featuring seven samples and learn about the tumultuous history of one of the world’s most refined spirits.
If you haven’t added this sacred golf pilgrimage to you bucket list, this is a must for any golfer. Join Elite Golf Experiences on an exclusive golf and history tour to play world famous courses and gain a greater appreciation for the game. The next epic adventure to Scotland is scheduled for October 2018. Escorted by the historian of World Golf Hall of Fame Dr Tony Parker, who also developed a world-class research centre for the study of the history of golf at St Andrews University, this tour is way beyond ordinary.
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