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Golf as a single

I would like to pack my golf clubs and fly to Scotland to play it's famous courses as a single.  Most tour groups want foursomes or larger to book trips.  How would an individual play some of the more popular courses, such as St. Andrews, Prestwick, Troon, Carnoustie, Kingsbarn, or Aberdeen? I am aware of the St. Andrews ballot process and have a valid handicap card, but would not know how to access other courses.  Any ideas or suggestions for tee times, car rentals, hotels, etc would also be appreciated. 


  • DavidConnorGolfDavidConnorGolf Member
    edited November 2016
    Hi @Luke - the great news is that all the courses you list above should all be very accommodating for you as a single. It is likely, given how popular those courses are, that they will pair you up with other golfers to make a 2, 3 or 4-ball which is a great way of meeting golfers from Scotland and all around the world. If you would prefer to play on your own and to feel as if you are the only one on the course, then perhaps opt for some of the quieter courses away from the beaten track.

    All of the courses above will have websites with contact details where you can email or call them directly to ask about availability of tee times on the day(s) you want to visit. Car rentals are available at every airport in Scotland so is not a problem. In terms of accommodation I'd recommend starting by choosing the courses you want to play (after all, you are here to play some seriously good golf above all else!) and then plot your route round Scotland before searching for accommodation in those areas.

    There can be a temptation to try to traverse the entire country in a matter of days and lots of golfers can tire themselves out with lengthy drives in between courses and regions. While Scotland is small enough to do this, perhaps a better option is to pick one or two regions and then play a number of courses in those regions. This also has the added advantage of being able to spend more than a night or two in each hotel so you are not having to constantly pack and move.

    VisitScotland's golf guide here has a handy split of the golfing regions within Scotland and the website also has links to external sites with more detail on specific courses and accommodation options across the regions.

    I hope this helps a little!

    Golf PR Manager

  • LukeLuke Member
    Thank you for your helpful suggestions and the link to the useful golf guide.  I am already looking forward to a trip sometime next year.
  • HamboneHambone Member
    I have gone as a single 3 times since 2009. First time was to St Andrews for two days. Played late afternoon on arrival, got in line for Old Course next day, played New Course next morning then home to Ipswich. In 2014 we did 3.5 weeks in Scotland, 1st week in Largs and played Troon, Troon Portland, Prestwick, Turnberry, Largs. Next week to Dornach and played Royal Dornach, Struie, Tain, Brora, Golspie. Last 10 days was in Burntisland and played Jubilee, Old Course, Kinghorn, Burntisland, and Aberdour. My last trip was 2016 with 3 weeks in Southern and Northern Ireland, and 3 weeks in England/Scotland. Played 19 rounds in 40 days at Royal Dublin, K Club, Portsmarnoch, Co.Lough, Waterville, Tralee, Ballybunion, La Hinch, Royal Portrush, and Royal County Down, Royal Lytham and St. Annes, Dundonald, Western Gailies, Trump Aberdeen, Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, Gullane, North Berwick, Muirfield. Most of the major courses I would book in advance, and others I would book a day or two in advance. Stayed in Self Catering Cottages, apartments or B&Bs. Self Drive with rentals in Ireland and Scotland. 
  • YourScotlandTourYourScotlandTour Member ✭✭✭
    Hi Luke, my dad and brother are members of a couple of courses, they may like someone to play with if you don't want to play by yourself :-)
    Bespoke tours.
    Whisky, Castles and Food a speciality.
  • Try I am sure they will beable to accommodate you. Lucy
  • I have travelled Scotland about 7 times - in 2 week stints. Usually play as a single. I would like to bring to your attention the lesser known, but wonderful courses.  I don't like crowded golf courses, and so have actually avoided most of the best known courses, in favor of lesser known, but wonderful golf courses. I am an early riser, and often play early in the morning, and so I can often play alone. 
    To name some - Northeast - Cruden Bay.  Played in the late afternoon by myself. Fantastic. Murcar, Aberdeen. Fantastic, and a site of a European tour event. Played in the early AM by myself. Nairn - Played in early AM by myself. Had time to pause during the 4th hole to simply listen to the waves lapping on the shore and the gulls crying out. Absorbed the moment, and I am reliving it right now. Cost around 30-40 GBP as I remember. 
    North - Dornoch. not crowded at all. Played one afternoon with my wife, only the two of us visible. Met a local that evening who suggested a game in the morning as his guest. First round was about 220 GBP, as I remember as a guest, around 40-60. Gordon Campbell and I had a memorable round, exchanging our golf and life experiences while playing. No one within 6 holes of us. (thanks, Gordon!)
    Also north - Brora and Wick. memorable rounds at each. Tain, and Golspie I haven't been to yet.
    West : Stornaway on Lewis - quirky course - very memorable. Machrie on Islay - wow. 60 and sunny, played by myself. Very interesting golf course. Pretty remote, but Islay very much worth a visit. 
    Aran - Shishkine - very interesting golf course, Blind par three (as on cruden bay, and Prestwick). The course was turned into an airfield during WWII and as a result only has 12 holes, but hey, it's a quicker round, and, you know, they invented the game, so they can do what they want. There was one other course which I think was on Aran, that had what I think of as the only dogleg par three I have ever played. They built a short (~180 yd) uphill hole and the green was behind some trees. So actually going to the green wasn't a percentage play. So you went to the little lick of fairway right of the green. What do you call it, a 3 or a 4? Really uncategorizable. But it doesn't really matter - it is what it is, just get it in the hole as fast as possible. 
    And then Prestwick - Simply called ahead a month or two, got a tee time for myself first time in the AM, and had a very memorable round on this very famous course. 
    All of these except Dornoch and Brora I played as a single, usually by myself. Just call ahead and get a tee time. 
    I can certainly understand trying to get as much golf in as possible, 2 to 3 rounds a day. BUT - I would strongly encourage you to take time to see everything else around you. Golf is not everything, and there are incredible things to see and visit everywhere in Scotland. 
  • N3103FN3103F Member
    I've played the St. Andrews courses (and Carnoustie) a couple of times. The first was through the traditional route of joining the lottery with two friends over a year in advance, being accepted, then planning the trip to coincide with the tee times we received from the Old Course and the New. It was July, it was busy, but it was still a great time.

    Two years later (2015, the year the Open was held at the Old) I visited in March and walked on (and PLAYED) as a single on the Old Course. They were intending to send me out with a twosome. When the twosome didn't show, they let me go off by myself. I'll be there again in a week to try and replicate the experience. It was truly magical.

    Certainly, walking on as a single on nearly all of the other courses in off-peak times is easy. Walking on as a single at the Old generally requires getting out to the starter very early and joining the queue (or so I've been told.)

    You may also want to check before you go whether the course you are intending to play on a given day is closed (either for member play or for maintenance/rest.) Two years ago, in March, the Old was closed two days a week, so on those days I played the New. If you do get on as a single, playing by yourself, my recommendation is to take your time, enjoy the experience, and try to avoid playing through any group you catch up to. I made that mistake on The Old, playing through on 11, then not being able to take my time on 12 and 13, not wanting to inadvertently hold up the group that allowed me to advance. The following week, I played, once again as a single, at Royal St. George, and consciously waited on a few holes when I realized I was catching up to a 3-ball in front of me. I didn't want to replicate the St. Andrews mistake.

    Going as a single is, in my opinion, the best way to go. You will probably end up playing with a group the starter assigns you to; however, that can easily be the best part. The first morning I was in St. Andrews, the Old was closed, so I walked over to the New and was put with a 3-ball of members of the Royal & Ancient. They even invited me to lunch afterwards (I politely declined what I was certain was simply a polite invitation; however, I was INVITED to have lunch in the Royal & Ancient Clubhouse.) The entire trip was a fabulous experience. I hope you have the same.
  • I realize this thread is a bit old, but I wanted to say thank you to the contributors.  I have been trying to plan a golf trip to Scotland for about 4 years with friends and realized that 1) life gets in the way and became hard to get a date together where everyone can agree on and 2) I was trying to make it too many things (Scotch?  Golf?   Sights?) to too many people.  With the guidance on this post, I finally made up my mind that I'm going by myself and I'm going to make it the trip that I want.   I will have a very golf centric trip with some whiskey-scotch mixed in and perhaps a run in with some ancestors (any other Cahoon's out there?) at the end of May 2020.  Thank you all again for anyone still reading this!
  • FullStopNextChapterFullStopNextChapter VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
    Ahhhh good on you @WillyRay78

    Which courses have you opted for? 
    Join in my new chapter over on the blog. Discovering all things that make Scotland the place everyone wants to visit. 

  • @FullStopNextChapter

    I centered the trip around the championship courses and their availability for a single golfer.  I figured I had the hall pass from the family and who knows if I'll ever get that again :-) 

    I currently have tee times for the championship courses at North Berwick, Carnoustie, Castle Stuart, and Royal Dornoch.   If the golf ends there, I'd be quite happy.   I have 3 "open" days as of right now.  I'm high on the waiting list for Muirfield for 2 of those days so the plan is to use those three days to attempt to secure tee times at Muirfield, the Old Course or if luck has it, both!    If unsuccessful, I will try to get on the other St. Andrews courses: New Course, Castle, Eden and/or Jubilee. 

    At this point I only have scheduled one day that has 2 tee times to give me some flexibility.  If I want to play more, I'll look for a place to walk on.  If I'm not up for it that day or want to rest on one of the open days, I'll spend some time with the local sights (including Cairngorms on my way to/from the North).  

    Any suggestions on things to see and do in those areas would be welcomed!

  • FullStopNextChapterFullStopNextChapter VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
    My husband is a keen golfer and his home course is Kinross golf club. They have two Championship courses which are lovely. 

    He also favours the more challenging course at Pitlochry, north of Perth (en route to the Cairngorms). Fairly steep but he enjoys it. 

    Something a bit quirky  - a golf course, on a river island. King James VI  golf course is located on an island in the river Tay in Perth. It has lovely wide fairways and a few surprises along the course. The only downside to this course is that you have to carry all your kit from the public carpark, over the bridge and across to the course. 

    All of these courses will be much cheaper than the ones you have listed but still worth looking at. 
    My husband often ends up playing with a visitor that has arrived at the same time. 

    He also enjoys a round at Carnoustie. 
    Join in my new chapter over on the blog. Discovering all things that make Scotland the place everyone wants to visit. 

  • Thank you greatly for the suggestions.  I realize there are quite a few courses and other gems out there.  Hopefully I can get to some of them.  If not, we'll simply have to make a 2nd trip!
  • bigbeecbigbeec Member
    I am thinking about coming over as a single as well. Anyone have a forecast of the demand for tee times in 2022 will be like with COVID getting under control? I can envision hordes of my fellow American golfers invading the links as things get back to normal. Busy is ok, but if 5+ hour rounds are going to be the norm I would rather stay home. (For the record, I think I would stay north - Dornoch and others nearby.)
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