In early April 2019, founder Ravi Coutinho visited Scotland to attend the VisitScotland Expo at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow. He also took the opportunity to visit a few of our favorite courses to play a few rounds and find new and exciting cultural tours.
Here were some of the highlights:
Learning What Scotland Has to Offer
As a golf tourism company, it’s easy to get tunnel vision when we design trips to Scotland, focusing on all the excellent golf opportunities with a little bit of whisky thrown in. One of the best parts of the VisitScotland Expo was getting to see what other tourism options Scotland has to offer other than golf. Whisky, history tours, walking tours, gastronomy tours, and much more. Gleneagles hosted a dinner at Ox and Finch, which is a tapas restaurant with a Michelin star — a surprise delight in a town known for its rough and tumble, working class vibe. The Claret Jug was also on display, reminding us that the British Open is on its way in just a few months’ time.
Other than the amazing events in Glasgow that were part of the VisitScotland Expo, we explored the town on our own, taking in some of the local pubs and restaurants in the evenings. A visit to the Potstill offered an opportunity to visit a virtual library of whisky from around the U.K. and the world. It was fun to watch the bartenders scamper up and down ladders to pour a new dram every few moments. The Golf Lounge was a particular highlight, because we got to watch the Masters while playing the Old Course (well, at least a simulated version of it).
Staying at the Machrie
We were treated to two nights at “the Queen of the Hebrides” — The Machrie Hotel & Golf Links in Islay. This completely renovated and expanded hotel reopened in summer 2018, and the rooms, suites, and lodges show the care that was put into the remodel. We also enjoyed a morning on the Links, enjoying beautiful views of the Atlantic Oceans over the dunes. The Machrie may be a difficult spot to get to, but the trip was well worth it.
Two Nights at the Royal Hotel
The Royal Hotel in Campbelltown was another unforgettable part of our stay, including the opportunity to play the award-winning Machrihanish Dunes and Machrihanish Golf Club, both in the same (very long) day. We think we earned the haggis mac n’ cheese at the Black Sheep Pub that evening. Campbelltown is a very fun town in its own right, with a great location overlooking the nearby harbour and friendly people at every turn.
Walking Whisky Tour
We were blessed to have a walking tour of some of Islay’s most famous distilleries while staying at the Machrie. Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Ardbeg and more were all within walking distance of each other, and we had a memorable tasting at each one. We participated in the warehouse tour at Lagavulin, where drams were pulled directly from the barrels, including a rare taste of a Lagavulin 26 Madeira Cask that we won’t soon forget. And if you’re a fan of the TV show Parks & Rec, you’ll recognize our tour guide, Ian, as the same Ron Swanson had on his trip to the distillery.
Playing the Old Course
Getting to play the Old Course at St. Andrews is always a treat, and it was an honor to play it again on this trip. In spite of the overcast skies, we only had to battle moderate winds and we never felt a drop of rain. I parred the last hole for a respectable 79, something to beat the next time I go. We also got to spend some time with our accommodation partners in St. Andrews, which gave us some ideas on new trip offerings for our clients.
If you’re ready to book your golf adventure to Scotland, get in touch today! We’re ready to schedule the bucketlist tour of a lifetime.