Monday, 18 April 2016

Prestwick is the Home of The Open. Is it on your list?

According to Peter Craigon of Mortong Golf Holidays Prestwick Golf Club on the Ayrshire coast “Should be on everyone’s MUST play list” and he explains why below

On Monday this week we took part in the wonderful annual Prestwick Fun Day which has a unique six ball "foursome" format!

Our Morton Golf Holidays team consisted of Donald McLeod our Associate Director, Sam Craigon my son who is assistant pro at Balbirnie Park GC in Fife and myself and we were hosted on the day by our Team Captain Allan Cook a member of Prestwick for over 20 years. I have been lucky enough to play regularly at Prestwick since the late 70's and played in the Scottish Amateur there in 1979. I was delighted to see Keith McIntosh who was the champion from that year also taking part in the Fun Day on Monday as he is a long standing member of Prestwick.

Everything about the venerable old place just oozes “class“.

From the history of the golf course and the clubhouse to the wonderful welcome you will receive when you play there it really is one of the best places in the world to play golf. The golf course itself is a classic old style links course which has hosted 24 Open Championships and the variety of its wonderful holes means you will remember every one of them long after you have played there.

I should also mention the Dining Room. Lunch at Prestwick is one of the great experiences in golf anywhere and there is nothing better than a round on the great links followed by a proper lunch and a couple of kummels to really get you going for the day. I believe the members sometimes refer to kummel as “putting juice “ as once you have had a couple the hands seem so much steadier on the putter for your afternoon round.

I would love to arrange for your group to play at Prestwick the next time you come to Scotland and I’d be delighted to add it to your itinerary on your next trip.

The One Time Experience - Morton Golf Holidays at The Renaissance Club

Article by Peter Craigon, Morton Golf Holidays
8th April 2016

I was lucky enough yesterday to spend a day at the Renaissance Club which is a wonderful Tom Doak designed links course just over the fence from Muirfield. 

We were hosted by Stephen Walker who is the Director of Marketing & Hospitality and Russell Smith the Director of Golf. Everything about the place oozes class from the spectacular design by Doak to the sumptuous clubhouse and the 5 star accommodation. 

Our day started around 10am with a Big Renaissance Breakfast which rivals anything on offer at Scotland’s 5 star hotels and the Bloody Mary which accompanied breakfast certainly put a little zip in the step to say the least. After a warm up on their excellent range and putting green we played the course with the expert guidance of our forecaddie Gary who is a 3 handicap member of Duddingston in Edinburgh. 

This was a wee bonus for me as I used to be a member of that top quality parkland course is the 1980s and it was nice when Gary was able to tell me many of the guys I played in the team with all these year ago are still around today! 

Doak has done a splendid job in designing a top class links course which is fair and challenging with some wonderful views across the Firth of Forth towards Fife and beyond. After golf we relaxed over a few pre-dinner beers and for some reason my putt into a bunker on the 1st hole seemed to be a topic which caused my fellow golfers some glee! 

The course was recently selected to host Final Qulaifying for the Open Championship from 2018 and it will undoubtedly provide one of the finest challenges for those seeking the elusive spots.

We ended the day with a fabulous private dinner the quality of which would not have been out of place at some of Scotland’s top restaurants. All in all this was a wonderful day and even although the Renaissance Club is a private members club they are happy for golfers to play there as part of the One Time Experience. I will certainly be looking to add this amazing one off experience to their itineraries in the future!

The image top and right shows Peter Craigon on the left, Stephen Walker on the right and two golfing buddies, Ronnie and Brian  and a wonderful view from the 10th tee. The video below a bird's eye view of a couple of the holes.

Friday, 15 April 2016

The Nairn Experience with Bonnie Wee Golf

If you’re planning a golf trip to Scotland and need inspiration on course selection, allow Bonnie Wee Golf to point you in the direction of Nairn Golf Club in the Scottish highlands.

Located just a 20 minute drive to the east of Inverness International Airport, Nairn is very accessible from a number of European destinations.

Founded in 1887 this is a classic links track of true championship caliber that is quite simply a must-play course and two of Scotland’s most prolific golf course designers have had a hand in the design process at Nairn: Old Tom Morris and James Braid.

It comes as no surprise that Nairn has hosted a number of high profile golf tournaments including The Walker Cup in 1999 and The Curtis Cup in 2012. Nairn Golf Club also plays a central role in the Highland Golf Links Pro-Am each year along with Castle Stuart Golf Links and Royal Dornoch Golf Club.

The visitor experience at Nairn is exceptional. Visitors are welcomed warmly 7-days a week and are considered to be members for the day.

Golfers will enjoy a round of golf on high quality links land that is masterfully maintained with greens that roll as fine and true as any other putting surfaces in Scotland. In addition to the first class golf course, visitors will also be able to enjoy stunning vistas of the Moray Firth from every hole.

For golfers requiring lodgings in Nairn, Bonnie Wee Golf highly recommends Sandown House, an award winning luxury 5-star guesthouse located 5 minutes from the first tee.

You wont get a better breakfast anywhere in the highlands!

To book your Highland golf tour and experience the superb links at The Nairn Golf Club first hand please contact

Scotland, Golf and The 19th Hole are a perfect package!

The guys at Scotland Golf Tours are promoting a couple of great new packages featuring a little bit of the hop and the grain with a very interesting autumn Beer festival package and a summer long opportunity to play great golf with some whisky distilleries included in between.

Golf and Beer  5 – 10 October 2016 

The first is a five night package that includes four rounds of great golf, a day at the Dunhill Links Tournament – a European Tour event - watching your favourite golfers, film stars and musicians in the unique Pro/ Am style event, including full hospitality in The Old Course Hotel.

The package also includes tickets to the famous Dunfermline Beer Festival with over 100 ales available although it goes without saying that your tee time will be in jeopardy if you try them all !!

Prices from £1740 based on 8 players with own coach and driver.  Check web site below for more details.

Visit the site for more information

Golf and Whisky – summer 2016

This tour is available throughout the main season – subject to availability – and includes 6 rounds of golf on some of Scotland’s finest links courses - Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Castle Stuart Golf Links, Nairn Golf Club, Trump International Links (Aberdeen), Royal Aberdeen Golf Club & Carnoustie Golf Links.

This magnificent golf tour will also visit and enjoy tastings at four of Scotland’s finest distilleries including Dalwhinnie, Glenmorangie, Dalmore and Glen Garioch.

This is a dream trip for keen golfers and lovers of fine whisky travelling by luxury small coach with driver for groups of four or more. If for example your group was made up of eight players the price would be £2745 per person.

Prices for other group sizes available on request.

Check web site for more details. or whet your pallette on the video below explaining the process of producing whisky.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

My Ferry is Cancelled. What Do We Do? Call your Tour Operator of course!

"Our ferry has been cancelled! What do we do?"

It may not be an every day occurrence but as Scotland provides possibly the very best island golf experiences in the world it can and does occur - and again it emphasises the benefits of having a tour operator on hand to step in and remove the panic!

SIGTOA members, Thistle Golf, try very hard to provide a comprehensive service to their clients from overseas sometimes taxing the resources and solution finding to the limit but making it all the better when it works out properly for the client.

Such an occasion occurred last season when a group of four senior golfers from Canada, touring in Scotland and the Western Isles, sailed to the Isle of Arran and onward to the Mull of Kintyre before taking another ferry over to the wonderful Isle of Islay where they planned to spend just one night and to tour the island before leaving on the following day.

Unfortunately (Islay being an island in the Atlantic on the way to New York) a storm blew up in the interim and the ferry sailing on the next morning was cancelled and the Thistle Golf team received a panic call from the clients to ask what happened now?

There was no alternative but for them to stay where they were at the excellent Bridgend Hotel on Islay and to catch the next ferry leaving the island. They had to pay for an extra night but could relax in the knowledge that in the meantime Thistle Golf  were pulling out all the stops to re-arrange the remainder of their tour itinerary on the basis (and hope!) that the ferry would sail next day.

A single weather related event can create havoc for a visitor but with the support of their golf tour operator the group had no need to worry about changes to hotel arrival dates, ferry transfers or refunds as the Thistle Golf team were dealing with that for them!

The outcome was a happy one! The storm passed, the ferry left the island the following day and the clients continued and enjoyed the remainder of their tour before returning to Canada having enjoyed a great, if little more adventurous trip to Scotland than originally planned!

Another good reason for considering the services of a golf tour operator when planning your trip? You bet. Some love the challenge of independent travel whilst others simply don't! A good tour operator gives you the piece of mind to relax and enjoy the trip rather than worrying about the logistics.

And if you do ever get an extra day on Islay you won't regret it as the video below shows!

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Castle Stuart has become a "must play" recommendation for many operators.

Castle Stuart Golf Links the host to the Scottish Open again in 2016 and Peter Craigon tells you why he reckons that this layout is one more of those MUST play courses when you visit Scotland. 

Last week I had the absolute pleasure of spending a couple of days at Castle Stuart on an early season mini-tour with 3 of my great golfing buddies – Donald McLeod is our Associate Director, Robin Duncan is the current Captain of Blairgowrie GC and Alan Wilson is a past Captain and Secretary of the 81 year old Perth Academy FPs GC. In fact all four of us are members of that wonderful old golf club having gone to school at Perth Academy (many years ago!)

I had played Castle Stuart on a number of occasions since it opened in 2009 and we have had some great feedback from clients we have sent there regularly in that time. However, I had not previously stayed in their accommodation. We stayed in their onsite Farmhouse which is a high class conversion only a drive and a wedge from the clubhouse. I can thoroughly recommend it as a base for anyone looking to play golf in the Highlands. The accommodation had 4 bedrooms and can easily accommodate 4 to 8 golfers and had a great lounge with Sky Sports to we enjoyed a few glasses of something nice whilst watching the PGA Tour event late into the night. We had a full Scottish breakfast in the clubhouse the next morning which was as good as any you would find in any of the hotels or guest houses up and down the country!

I must also say there can no other top class links golf course in Scotland with such fabulous scenery from more or less every hole (and I should know as I have played over 250 of Scotland’s wonderful golf courses over the years). The views to the west and north of Inverness and across to the Black Isle are simply spectacular. The course was designed jointly by Gil Hanse (he has just completed the course for this year’s Olympics in Rio) and Mark Parsinen and what a great job they have done. Every hole is fair yet challenging and it will be great to see some of the top players in the world warm up for The Open when the Scottish Open takes place at Castle Stuart in July. Simply put Castle Stuart is great links golf and is one of the reasons so many of the world’s best players think it is a great warm up for the Open at Royal Troon.

Also worth noting that it is not just me and our clients who think Castle Stuart is a great place to play golf – none other than Arnold Palmer visited last year and he and his design team are set to build what will be Arnie’s first golf course in Britain – the course is due to start being built next year – what an unbelievable prospect – taking what is one of Scotland’s very best links golf courses and adding another one right beside it with Arnold Palmer’s masterful design – I for one can’t wait.

Castle Stuart is one of the best golf experiences Scotland has to offer so why not ask me or Donald McLeod to add it to your itinerary the next time you come to Scotland along with Royal Dornoch and Nairn. In fact, to make the most of the experience we can add a high class whisky tasting in the Castle Stuart clubhouse run by one of the experts from the Tomatin Distillery.

Find out More on Morton Golf Website

Friday, 1 April 2016

Fife based Scotland Tours introduce a new Scheduled Tours Service

Scotland Tours has launched a scheduled tour programme to allow smaller groups to join together, enjoy the fun and cost savings a larger group brings.

Since 1997 Scotland Tours have been delivering high quality golf tours to their international guests, but frequently came across people who asked to join a larger group, or expressed a preference not to drive on “our” side of the road, but didn't want to incur the expense of hiring their own driver. The solution is to join a larger group tour and have your own driver looking after transport logistics. These new tours which will start in September 2016 are designed for a maximum of 16 players, so the group is still manageable and it doesn't take too long to get on and off the courses.
Designing the tour and the selecting courses has been interesting. They have still included many top name courses and guests will be staying in hotels that feature regularly in their other tours, so they are not compromising on quality.

Thousands of people every year tour Scotland and other areas of the UK and Ireland in larger coaches and Scotland Tours see no reason why 16 like minded golfers should not enjoy the same relaxing tour and still play 6 great courses.

The courses in the 2016 series include many top names including Castle Stuart, Carnoustie, Kingsbarns,  Royal Dornoch, and a few local “hidden gems” they know you will also enjoy.

Whether you are travelling alone, or with 3 or 4 other friends, book your tour now and get your space reserved. You can check out the new web pages below

Scotland Golf Schedule Tours

Morton Golf Holidays : Golf and Whisky Packages

For many years before buying Morton Golf Holidays owner Peter Craigon worked in the drinks' industry in Scotland and looked after some of the world’s most famous whisky brands. 

Proud to have been made a Keeper of the Quaich, Peter still enjoys offering his golfing clients wonderful whisky experiences when they are not playing some of the world’s most famous golf courses.

Peter is in a unique position in the golf travel business as no-one else in the trade can combine such a high level of knowledge and expertise in both golf and whisky.  For years Peter enlisted the services of whisky expert Iain Stothard and they jointly hosted some wonderful “ whisky dinners “ for Morton Golf Holidays’ clients.

As Peter says “After our clients had played a round on the Old Course we arranged a private dinner in a section of Rocca Restaurant in Rusacks Hotel overlooking the 18th fairway.  Iain would then give a talk all about whisky then with the sun setting and casting long shadows over the most famous view in golf Iain would match a malt whisky to each course of dinner – over the years we must have used over 50 of the top malts including Highland Park 18yo (Iain’s personal favourite), Macallan, Balvenie and Glenfiddich 15yo.

Peter is particularly excited with the opening of the Kingsbarns Distillery which is only a good 3 wood away from the 12th hole of the world famous golf links.  Douglas Clement one of the Founders of the distillery and Visitor Centre Manager has done a brilliant job in setting up such a superb distillery so close to St Andrews.

Already Peter has included a visit to the Kingsbarns Distillery into many of his itineraries.  And for very special groups he is delighted to arrange not only a tour of the distillery after a round on the nearby Kingsbarns Golf Links but he will also arrange for Doug to conduct a VIP tasting.

“ We are very lucky in Scotland to be not only the Home of Golf but also we produce the world’s most aspirational drink in scotch whisky.  I am delighted to have gained so much knowledge over the years not only about golf but also whisky and I know from our clients’ feedback over the years they like nothing better than for me to combine iconic golf links such as the Old Course and Carnoustie in their itineraries with VIP tours of whisky distilleries such as Kingsbarns, Tullibardine (near Gleneagles) and Glenmorangie not far from Royal Dornoch.

Ask Peter to send you a bespoke itinerary combining the very best golf courses and whisky experiences Scotland has to offer.

Find out more