Our next adventure on this wonderful 50th anniversary trip is the golf mecca in Scotland, The Royal and Ancient St. Andrews Golf Links. Needless to say, we are both excited for this day trip.
Our ship glides into the port of South Queensferry, Scotland. One of our other choices would have been the tours of Edinburgh but being somewhat golfers, we could not give up this chance be at St. Andrews where all of the great golfers of the world have tried to bring the course to it’s knees!
Once again, the port is too shallow to dock so we have numerous tenders to take us ashore. Our tour bus picks us up after lunch so we decided to stay aboard and not wander through the sea shore village as we have at other ports. We have a leisurely breakfast, wander throughout the ship and recover from the past tours and activities.
Once on the bus, we admire the Scottish countryside on our way to St. Andrews. The quaint homes, farms and the rolling hillsides. Upon our arrival in the town, the driver gave us a quick tour of the ‘downtown’ and the historic St. Andrews Cathedral, the largest and most important church in medieval Scotland.
We arrive at the ‘Old Course’ and start looking at all the landmarks that we see on the golf shows or the televising of ‘The Open’. The Old Hotel, the Road Hole and of course, the Swilcan Bridge! Here is where all the retiring greats of golf stop to wave to the golf fans and pose for pictures. Our skin develops goose bumps standing and imagining these events.
As we are dreaming of playing, we enter the pro shop and pick up the Old Course Ballot Card with the rules related to entering the lottery to play. We have to send in the lottery form and have a signed handicap card – 24 for men and 36 for ladies. The course is also closed for play on a Sunday allowing people to walk along the famous fairways at the Links.
We go to the tee blocks of the 18th hole and walk up onto the tee and gaze on down the fairway to get the feel of playing. The course is full but everyone understands and you can do this with no one bothering you as long as you don’t get in the way of the players.
We also cross over the 17th fairway to get our picture and help other golf enthusiasts get their pictures standing on the ‘Swilcan’ bridge that crosses the Swilcan Burn between the first and eighteenth fairways. This was too exciting and really made our day!
There are four main ways to apply for a tee time on the Old Course:
The Advanced Reservations process starts at the beginning of September for play the following year. Full details can be found on our website.
The second and most common way is to enter the Ballot which is drawn every day for play two days ahead e.g. enter the names by 2pm on Monday for play on a Wednesday.
Single Golfers can approach the Starter on the day they wish to play and they will try to slot them in with groups going out that day.
And the last way is to buy guaranteed premium tee times is from the ‘Old Course Experience’.
After we get our fill, we walk in the downtown of St Andrews, past Ole Tom Morris’ house and past lots of golf shops. We did go in to one and bought a couple souvenirs for ourselves and continued along the street, admiring the buildings and surroundings. All too soon, it is nearing bus time so we venture down to the Old Course visitors centre then out onto the beach of St Andrews. It has been a great day for us.
Too soon, we are back on the boat and heading out to sea again. After a full day at sea, we are onto our next port of call, Le Havre, France. Please return to hear about our trip to Paris….