UK GOLF COURSE TOUR: ABERDEEN TO NEWCASTLE
Ask most Americans, and arguably, you'll find the UK to be most recognized for things like tea and crumpets, Big Ben, the Royal Family, and other undeniably "British" things. But for lovers of the game of golf, the United Kingdom is the Holy Grail.
The UK has some of the most lavish and challenging golf courses in the world, so it's no wonder why so many golfers plan a UK road trip to try their hand at these legendary UK golf courses.
From Royal Aberdeen to St. Andrews to the Royal Liverpool Golf Club and beyond, there's no way a golfer can resist the temptation to visit more than once during a visit to the country. And taking a UK golf course road trip is perhaps the best way to do it. Not only will you be able to enjoy playing the game you love at some of the world's foremost golf courses, but you'll also be driving through some of the most scenic countrysides in Britain, staying in some of the best hotels, and dining in some of the world's best restaurants. There are also the attractions you'll have the opportunity to see - well when you're not teeing up.
UK GOLF COURSE ROAD TRIP DAY 1: ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - THE GRANITE CITY
Your trip begins in Aberdeen, Scotland, so book your flight to arrive at Aberdeen Airport (ABZ). Scottish golf courses are some of the most recognizable and famous courses in the world, so it is a great place to start. You'll be able to pick up your reserved UK car rental from Auto Europe right at the airport, and in no time, you'll be on the road to your first golfing destination - the Royal Aberdeen Golf Course.
Along the way, you'll pass plenty of landmarks that you'll eventually want to check out, such as the Aberdeen Central Library and St. Mark's Church, the Salvation Army Citadel, Duthie Park, Johnston Gardens, and more. In fact, you'll be surprised at just how many parks and gardens the city has (45). And equally impressive is the architecture that exists in and around the city. The city's buildings are mostly made from granite, giving Aberdeen the nickname, "The Granite City."
But this is first and foremost a golfing trip, so all of that can wait until you've had your round of 18 holes at the sixth oldest golf course in the world - the Royal Aberdeen Golf Club. Founded in 1780 along the North Sea shore, Royal Aberdeen has been the setting for several championship tournaments, including the Scottish Open, the Walker Cup, and the Senior British Open. The course is particularly well known for its constantly changing winds and tight greens, making it home to one of the most challenging back nines anywhere in the golfing world.
Other must-see attractions in Aberdeen include the Gordon Highlanders Museum, the Linn O' Dee, the Aberdeen Maritime Museum, and the breathtaking views of the Bullers of Buchan. If you want to grab a pint after your day on the green, then you're in luck. Aberdeen boasts a nice selection of pubs, bars, and clubs. The Office Bar is a particular favorite, while the BrewDog, The Moorings Bar, and CASC (Cigars. Ale. Scotch. Coffee.) are also top-notch selections.
Aberdeen also has its fair share of excellent restaurants, many of which offer globally inspired cuisine. From the Italian cuisine of Mamma Mia to the seafood dishes of the Moon Fish Café to the authentic Indian food served at Shri Bheemas Indian Restaurant Bridge of Don, there's a restaurant in this city to satisfy just about every culinary craving.
After a fun-filled day, you can return to your hotel for a wonderful night's sleep before venturing out to your next golfing destination. Luckily, Aberdeen also offers a good selection of hotels to choose from. Popular favorites include the Britannia Aberdeen, the Hilton Aberdeen Treetops, and the Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel and Spa.
UK GOLF COURSE ROAD TRIP DAY 2: THE FAMED LINKS OF ST. ANDREWS
The next golf course on your itinerary is the legendary St. Andrews Golf Club in St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland. Turn your UK car rental onto A90, heading south. Along the way, you'll pass by the villages of Stonehaven, Laurencekirk, Brechin, Forfar, and Dundee. Although you're going to love driving along the coast, this is a relatively short trip, clocking in at less than two hours. But that won't bother you, because you'll be teeing off that much sooner.
The St. Andrews Golf Club is officially known as The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, and it is one of the most prestigious clubs in the entire world. In fact, it has often been referred to as "the home of golf." Founded in 1754, it is also one of the oldest golf clubs in the world, and its massive clubhouse remains one of the game's most iconic images. Since its founding, the club has hosted 11 major championships, including the Open Championship, the Walker Cup, the St. Andrews Trophy, and the Senior British Open Championship, just to name a few.
When you're not golfing, you'll have plenty to see and do while in St. Andrews. West Sands is one of the best beaches in Scotland, and it's a perfect place to enjoy a soothing walk along the surf. For something a little more historical, you can always visit the St. Andrews Cathedral, St. Andrews Castle, or the Museum of the University of St. Andrews. Then again, since you're on a golfing road trip across the UK, you'll probably want to pay a visit to the British Golf Museum. A visit to the St. Andrews Aquarium or the Cambo Estate Gardens will also be time well spent.
Once you're done sightseeing, why not settle in with a pint or two at one of St. Andrews' many bars and pubs? The Whey Pat Tavern is a good choice, although you can't go wrong with the Tavern at Strathkinness, The Jigger Inn, or The Road Hole Bar, either.
If you're planning on staying the night in St. Andrews (and you would be wise to), you'll find wonderful accommodations available throughout the city. For a luxurious stay, book a room at the Old Course, or for something a little more laid back, try the Rusacks or the Fairmont St. Andrews Hotel.
UK GOLF COURSE ROAD TRIP DAY 3: CHAMPIONSHIP GREENS IN GULLANE
The drive from St. Andrews to Muirfield Golf Club takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes via the A92. This golf club is located in Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland, where it overlooks the Firth of Forth. Like the other clubs on your itinerary, Muirfield Golf Club also has the distinction of having been host to several key championships since it was built in 1891 (although the history of the club dates back significantly farther). Most prominent, however, is the fact that Muirfield Golf Club was where the Open Championship was first held in 1892; it has hosted the event 15 times since.
When you're not on the green, you'll want to visit the city's award-winning beach, the Gullane Bents. Or take a stroll through the village shops, where you'll find a host of old-world delights waiting for you. For a generous meal and a tasty pint, head on over to The Old Clubhouse and you won't be disappointed.
As for accommodations, there isn't a lot to choose from in this little village, so you're going to want to make sure you book a room at either the Mallard Hotel or Greywalls Hotel if you want anything lavish. More commonly found here are smaller B&Bs, like the Maple Cottage and the Muirfield Green Bed and Breakfast. In either case, reserving a room in advance is highly recommended.
UK GOLF COURSE ROAD TRIP DAY 4: WANDERING WOODHALL SPA
The Woodhall Spa Golf Club is the next destination on your tour and to get there, you'll drive your UK rental car south on the A1. The trip takes about five hours and twenty minutes, depending on the traffic.
Located just north of Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, the Woodhall Spa Golf Course was founded in 1891. It was originally designed with one golf course, but in 1998, a second course, the Bracken, was designed and built by architect Donald Steel.
One of the places you simply must add to your itinerary during your stop in Woodhall Spa is the Aqua Sante Spa. A soothing muscle massage will be just the ticket after a few days of driving and golfing. Sit back and relax for a spell at the Kinema in the Woods, or take a visit to the Woodhall Spa Cottage Museum. For something genuinely "British," plan a visit to the Russ Tipper Falconry to learning all about this ancient art from one of the world's foremost falconers.
After the long ride into town from Muirfield and a day spent hitting balls on the course, you're going to want a comfortable bed to fall into at night. Luckily, Woodhall Spa offers a range of different accommodations for visitors. The Dower House Hotel and the INN at Woodhall Spa are both among the highest-rated hotels by former guests. There are also plenty of smaller establishments like the Rose Cottage B&B, the Kirkstead Old Mill Cottage, and the Village Limits Country Pub, Restaurant & Motel, for those who are looking for more of "local" experience.
UK GOLF COURSE ROAD TRIP DAY 5 & 6: THE ROYAL LIVERPOOL GOLF CLUB
Day five of your UK golf course road trip has you driving west along the M56. The trip will take you roughly three and a half hours if you don't hit a lot of traffic. Bear in mind that there is so much to see and do in Liverpool, that you might want to plan on spending two days in the city.
Along with being recognized as the city where the Beatles were formed, Liverpool is a deeply historic city with plenty of attractions to visit while you're in town. However, all of that can wait until after you've done what you came here for - playing a round of golf at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
The Royal Liverpool Golf Club was established in 1869 with the course originally having been designed by Robert Chambers and George Morris. The seaside course would later be re-designed in the 20th century by none other than Harry Colt. The Royal Liverpool Golf Club has a place of honor in the history of the sport, as it was the first course to host the men's Amateur Championship. It was also the first to host what would eventually become the Walker Cup, and it was the spot for the first international match between England and Scotland.
Over the years, the course has hosted several championship tournaments, including the Women's British Open, The Open Championship, the Curtis Cup, and others. And, if you haven't yet got your fill of golf in Liverpool, all you have to do is drive four miles to the south, and you'll come across the Caldy Golf Club. Although not as "popular" as its northerly neighbor, it is regarded by those in the know to be near its equal.
When you're not golfing, you'll have no shortage of attractions to enjoy in Liverpool. If you want to see where the Beatles began, then visit the Casbah Coffee Club. Or, you can take a trip to Mendips to see the boyhood home of John Lennon, or to 20 Forthlin Road to see where Paul McCartney grew up. If you want to experience the history of Liverpool, then visits the Liverpool Central Library, the Liverpool Cathedral, and St. George's Hall should be added to your itinerary.
Liverpool is arguably the best town for shopping in England because the city was founded in the shopping trade. Today, shopping remains one of its most alluring attractions. Liverpool ONE is one of the leading shopping destinations in England, while all about the city you'll find boutiques, markets, and shops that sell all manner of goods. The city also enjoys a robust nightlife, with an abundance of bars and clubs strategically scattered throughout.
The Cavern Club is a must for fans of the Beatles, while for those looking for a more "authentic" English drinking experience, the Berry & Rye will prove sufficient. Liverpool also has its share of comedy clubs, with the Laughterhouse and the Hot Water Comedy Club earning top marks from patrons.
As for your dining options, your choices are only limited by your imagination. Liverpool is chock-full of coffeehouses, Spanish bistros, Indian restaurants, Mediterranean eateries, and more. And, don't worry - there are endless places where you can find beef Wellington, shepherd's pie, and other British standards.
If you're going to be staying a night or two in Liverpool, then the city offers enough different types of hotels, so that you can choose the perfect one to meet your budget and needs. There are ultra-affordable hotels like the Scarisbrick and the Hillcrest, and swank hotels like Radisson Blu and Hope Street. Regardless of where you want to stay, be sure you reserve your room well in advance because Liverpool is a popular tourist destination year-round.
UK GOLF COURSE ROAD TRIP DAY 7 & 8: DUBLIN AND NEWCASTLE
In order to get to your final golfing destination on your UK Golf Course Tour, you're going to have to drive your UK car rental west along A55 to Holy Island, where you'll take the Dun Laoghaire ferry to Dublin, Ireland. From the port, you'll take N31 to R118 to R131 to M50 into Dublin City. From there, you'll take the M1 to Newry and Mourne, where you'll take the A25 exit from A1 to Newcastle, Northern Ireland. Due to the length of the trip, you'll probably want to set aside two days so you can get the most out of your visit to Ireland.
One of the oldest golf clubs in all of Ireland, the Royal County Down Golf Club was established in 1889 with two courses, the Annesley Links and the Championship Course. Its fourth and ninth holes are particularly spectacular, to the point that they are included in the publication, The 500 World's Greatest Golf Holes. Golf Digest ranked the club's Championship Course as the fourth-best in the world outside of the U.S. in 2005, and in 2007, it took the top spot. Since its opening, the Royal County Down Golf Club has hosted several championship tournaments, including the Irish Open, the Palmer Cup, the Walker Cup, the British Ladies Amateur Golf Championship, and others.
Newcastle itself is a resort town located at the foot of Slieve Donard, so when you're not golfing, you'll have plenty of opportunities to shop, dine, sightsee, or simply relax. Since it's a seaside resort, you'll be able to enjoy the splendor of the Northern Irish coastline, and because it's located at the base of Slieve Donard, you can take a walk along the Mourne Mountains.
Another popular attraction in Newcastle is Saint Patrick's Stream. According to legend, this is the point where St. Patrick banished all of the snakes from Ireland. On a side note, the Mourne Mountains are particularly regarded for Mourne Granite, which is what was used to create the base of the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.
For your accommodations in Newcastle, you'll have plenty to choose from, simply because of the town's tourism. The Enniskeen Country House Hotel and the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa are popular among visitors, although the Donard Hotel lends a historical touch to your stay. Widow's Row is where you can find a cozy rental with a wonderful view, while the Golf Links Hotel will have you in convenient proximity to the golf course.
When planning your departure from Newcastle, the closest airport is located in Belfast, where you'll be able to conveniently return your UK rental car from Auto Europe. Belfast International Airport is about a hour and twenty minute drive from Newcastle, while Dublin Airport is about two hours away.