Golf Trips

Golf Mate?: Golf in the land down under

New South Wales - Hole #5

New South Wales - Hole #5


If you're going to make this trip, and spend the better part of a day in airport lounges and airline cabins, you're going to want to stretch those legs. Rest assured that with ten rounds of golf in ten days, on the country's best nine courses (five of them ranked in the planet's Top 100), is sure to help you work out the kinks (in your legs or your game, that's for you to decide.)

On the 'mainland,' we'll get you onto the continent's finest clubs, including Royal Melbourne (East and West), New South Wales, Royal Adelaide, and Kingston Heath. Stay at the finest city hotels as well, be it the Four Seasons in Sydney or the Langham in Melbourne. When you're not striking shots on the most heralded layouts, we'll have you enjoying an America's Cup yacht cruise in Sydney's famed harbour, or a private chef's degustation dinner at Penfold's Magill Estate (complete with the finest vintages of Grange wines).

10 rounds of golf

  •  New South Wales
  •  Royal Adelaide
  •  Victoria
  •  The National (Moonah and Ocean)
  •  Kingston Heath
  •  Royal Melbourne (West and East)
  •  Barnbougle Dunes
  •  Lost Farm



2013 Old Course Guidelines unveiled

The birthplace of golf is a rite passage for any serious golfer, yet it is not a one-time visit, but merely the first of many. This unique plot of land north of the 55th parallel is home to the highest concentration of Top 100 golf courses in the World (12 at last count).

In an ideal world, all golf trips to Scotland include a round at the incomparable Old Course at St Andrews.

Today, St Andrews Links unveiled their rates and policies for 2013, leaving just three weeks before you must have your lottery ballot for an Old Course Tee Time prepared for entry.

As always, the deadline to apply for an Old Course application is the first Wednesday in September at 10am Greenwich Mean Time. 

Yes, it means pushing the send button at 5am in Toronto/New York or staying up late on the West Coast on Tuesday Sept 4th and sending it at 2am.

It is imperative that you choose two courses to play. We recommend the second coure being the "New" Course, if you can call built in 1895, New!. If you don't want to play a second course, go for the Strathtyrum, as it is only £25.

Next year's green fees will be £155 in 2013, this is the cheapest you will pay. If you decide to add the Old Course after September 5, 2013, you have the following choices.

1) Play the ballot, which works if you are 4 or less golfers

2) Meet the starter at 6am and get your name on the list for play that day

3) Book a guaranteed time with the Old Course Experience

Of course, we can advise you on the process and plan the rest of the trip for you.

Royal Aberdeen

Our second round of the trip is at the esteemed Royal Aberdeen, the 6th oldest golf club in the world. Founded in 1780, it was not until 1903 that King Edward VII bestowed the Royal title. It has a long storied history including the institution of the "Five Minute Rule" -five minutes max to search for stray golf balls, which is way too long when playing in April, since the varied, primarily fescue and marram grasses are still young.

It is a classic links course high above the east coast of the North Sea. Nine holes out and nine holes back of bumpy and unpredictable hard fairways. Shot selection and placement are critical to scoring well.

The course was in excellent condition as there has been special attention paid to it, as the club gears up to be host the Walker Cup this September.

Next up: Castle Stuart

Welcome to Royal Aberdeen

Great first hole hitting towards North Sea and & oil maintenance boats

An example of the bumpy and unpredictable fairways

Tee shot at #7

Pete and our caddy, Ewan pose on the sand dunes high above the Sea

Remnants of the old railway protect the 15th green

The gorse is at its most brilliant yellow in the spring

Standing on the 16th tee box

The approach at 18 with the clubhouse standing watch

Aberdeen, Scotland

Scotland's third city was our first on our trip. We spent three nights in Aberdeen, which was easily accessible with a flight from Amsterdam, a nice alternative to flying into Glasgow or Edinburgh and driving for 3 hours. The Granite City, really should be known as Oil City now as North Sea oil means direct flights from Dubai and Texan accents in the bars. It also means money in the city and money needs great hotels. There are two to choose from and they could not be more different: Marcliffe Hotel and Spa and Malmaison.

Marcliffe is a warm, comfortable five-star country hotel that sits on 11 acres a few minutes outside of the city core. The rooms are properly outfitted in a classic style, without a great deal of character, just proper. The sort of hotel where serving high tea at 4pm is most fitting.

On the other hand...

There is the Malmaison, a chain with a distinct "naughty house" style. The rooms are big and uniquely decorated with dark plaids of navy, wine and forest green. The bar is happening and the brasserie combines casualness with incredible steak and the wine list to match.

While there is a room for both hotels catering to different guests, we were very much taken with Malmaison. It will be the recommend for us.

Lovely dining room in the atrium at Marcliffe

The Brasserie at Malmaison

Prefer more privacy, take the chef's table

Select your own piece of organic beef

Quaint ceramic butter or are they cheese dishes

The hip Malmaison bar

The classic styling of the Marcliffe rooms

At the Mal, you could find a foosball table, a super king size bed and

... a soaking tub in the middle of the room

Cruden Bay, Scotland

Our first round of our awesome golf trip to the Home of Golf takes us to Cruden Bay, located about as west and north as you can go in Scotland. Like many of Canada's great golf courses, Cruden Bay was commissioned by a railway, the Great North of Scotland Railway Company wanted to woo people to this attractive seaside location. And what an attractive seaside location it is.

It was so beautiful, the designers wisely left the land exactly as they found it. The result is a course that meanders up, down and around dunes. It has a one disjointed hole high off a cliff, three par 3s on the back nine, including back-to-back one-shotters at 15 & 16. But leaving the greatest impression on a first-timer are the numerous blind shots. It is critical to have a caddy here. Thankfully, I had George who, like most caddies at Cruden Bay, is a member as well, so he spoke with experience.

Next up: Royal Aberdeen

Welcome to Cruden Bay

The tee shot through the dunes at the 6th

7th tee shot requires a 215 yd carry over the gorse

And this was the next shot - the approach at 7

Beautiful view from the 9th tee box, the highest point on the course

Pace of play in Scotland means little waiting, but this is a view worth taking in

The blind approach to #14

Crank your head right to see the rare par-3 dogleg and of course, another blind shot

George says "See the poll above my head, aim left of that"

The view to the west of the 15th tee box

Thanks George, could not have done it without you

Home of Golf

First day of The Masters AND my first posting.

For some, the robin signifies the start of spring, for golfers it is The Masters.

On that note, I will be heading to the Home of Golf on Monday for a 8 night trip that will include 7 rounds of golf.  Along the way I will be posting reviews and pics, if you care to follow.

Here is the itinerary:



Hotel: Marcliffe Hotel & Spa, a Virtuoso property
Golf: Cruden Bay, #81 in the world and Royal Aberdeen, 6th oldest course in the world

Hotel: Culloden House, a Virtuoso property
Golf: Castle Stuart, not yet two years-old, it was voted overseas destination of the year by Golf Digest

Hotel: Royal Golf Hotel, voted best golf hotel in Scotland in 2010 and a mere 50 yards from ...
Golf: Royal Dornoch, #15 in the world

St. Andrews
Hotel: Rusacks, the quintessential golf hotel, across from the Old Course
Golf: Kingsbarns, #61 in the world and hopefully a successful ballot win to play the Old Course

Hotel: Greywalls, the elegant country hotel overlooking Muirfield
Golf: Muirfield, #9 in the world