Journal Entry #56
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As you may or may not know, I am a staunch supporter and unofficial ambassador for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Professional Golf Association Professional Golf Management program in the University's School of Business.
Recently I enjoyed a breakfast conversation with Doug Wert, the program's director, concerning an outstanding opportunity to take an eight-day journey in Scotland to play six premium courses including both the new and old St. Andrews venues. The dates are August 5 - 12, 2006 and include eight nights and seven days. I am writing this article in hopes that many of those who read it might consider joining Doug and me on the 2006 golf trip to Scotland.
To see and read in depth information about this pilgrimage simply go to the internet and access www.SeniorFriendlyGolf.com and click the scrolling link, PLAY ST. ANDREWS SCOTLAND, under Bobby Steiner's weekly golf column. Here you will find the complete brochure. Time is short so read it ASAP. Reservations must be in by the first week in September of 2005 for 2006 tee times. You may also stop reading this article if you are not interested in my pre-tour overview and just go read the brochure. Otherwise continue.
Why does it take such a long lead-time to get on the course where official golf began? Well, just about every golfer in the world who loves the game aspires to play, or even just visit, this historic golf course once in their lifetime. There are thousands of people signing up every day for the daily lottery to secure times. Many of the expensive hotels and resorts in Scotland have first priority. That sucks up a large majority of tee times; however, as Doug advised me, tourism has been less than hoped for recently, so reservation opportunities have loosened up a bit. With connections he has made through Mulligan Golf Tours there is the reality of getting tee times for 2006.
When I read the brochure my first reaction was, "pricey." My meeting with Doug was to determine the complete cost one could expect as well as any other tidbits that might be of interest. The tour's cost covers only lodging, local transportation and green fees. To this you have to add airline tickets, estimated at around $1,000, meals, caddy or trolley (pull carts) fees, and any incidentals beyond those items. I don't know if scotch is cheaper in Scotland or not, but I do know I'll be bringing back a couple of bottles of single malt.
Concerning meals, I wondered about the brochure's mention that participants would be eating at gourmet restaurants each evening. Gourmet to me means $$$$$$. Doug set my mind at ease. There will be only two group evening dinners, one at the beginning and one at the end of the trip. All the other evenings groups may split off and go wherever they please. Since we will be staying at several bed and breakfast places, our breakfast is covered. Lunch on the links should be reasonable and at night its go where you like as I have mentioned. Since there will be several dozen of us on the tour, we are likely to bunch up into small groups.
One thing I really like about trips and tours like this is the people you meet. This is a great opportunity to form new friendships. People from all over our country will be participating. This will be Doug's third trip to Scotland and he assures me I am correct on this count. And everyone going is not expected to be low handicappers. He told me one year he even played with a 30 handicapper. That's me this trip. Everyone does have to have a GHIN handicap. Its not hard to get one. Just talk to any golf course pro. I believe you only have to play 10 rounds to have enough data, and you have over a year from now to do that.
Transportation will be by air-conditioned bus to and from golf courses. Non-golfers, yes your spouse or significant other, can go and they will enjoy tour sightseeing on the bus while their golfer is on the links. The plan to begin the trip is for everyone to meet at airports in either Philadelphia or New York and fly out from there together to Edinburgh. If you plan to stay in Europe longer, I am sure that can be arranged. I know my wife and I plan to do Wales, England, and Ireland after the golf tour.
I mentioned that green fees are included. Doug recommends hiring a caddy to accompany you on each golf course. There are no cart paths to deal with because there are no electric or gas powered carts. Not only will a caddy carry your load, they will tutoer you on how to play holes as well as entertain you with historic information. Many of the fairways are dotted with bunkers, which are more like World War II bunkers made by bomb blasts or fox holes dug by soldiers. You don't know where they are until you are there. There meaning "in them." Watch any British Open or other tournament played in Scotland or Ireland and you'll know what I mean. The word is "surprise," you are in a hole. Good luck blasting out. Of course, that's one reason we go. To see if we can handle the deep vertical sand traps.
Yes, there are pull carts, which they call "trolleys." Of course a trolley cannot tell you about the hidden dangers on each hole that challenges you. I must go back and correct myself concerning powered carts. They are allowed if a golfer has an exception letter from his/her physician stating that your physical/medial condition cannot allow you to walk the course. Not all courses have this option, but some do and in addition to the cart a caddy must be hired to ride along. So this way you get their counsel. I don't know what this will cost you, but be prepared to dig deep. Caddy service will run you about 15 to 20 pounds or $25 to $30 depending on the exchange rate at the time. Trolleys will cost about $10.
An interesting side note is that the St. Andrews golf course is owned by the city and closes one day a week to serve as a city park. Families picnic and enjoy the grounds without being bothered by golfers on those days.
In closing I must mention my main photo op objective is to have my picture taken in the famous poses of both Jack Nicklass and Arnold Palmer waving goodbye on the Swilcan bridge, which I believe is on the 18th fairway with the clubhouse in the background. I doubt that what I bring back will qualify as golf art to be auctioned off at local golf tournaments, but I'll sure enjoy seeing it in my home next to my hole-in-one photo from last January at the Falcon Ridge golf course in Mesquite, Nevada.
Now, go read the brochure. You can download the information form to save on your computer and then print it out, complete it and send it in to Doug's attention.