Golfers travelling to Scotland in the early shoulder season March, April and May must consider Scotland’s traditional winter weather cycle which can drastically impact the condition of courses throughout Scotland. For a country so small, regions suffer vastly different weather. This years weather cycle has brought extra clarity to the importance in selecting these drier golfing regions. As the cold northerly winds pass and the first signs of spring are evident find out how the wintery weather impacted our golf courses. Below is where to play early this season in Scotland and why.
1. Spend Less, Worry Less, Play More Golf
Many benefits unsurprisingly base round cost saving with off season pricing. Reduced rates can have you saving almost 50% with some courses also implementing shoulder season pricing. Aligned to this is the recurring package deals offered by golf courses and on some occasions hotels which prove incredible value for money. Two examples of such marketing initiatives recently include Carnoustie Golf Links who offered golfers the Open Championship Course at £73.50 pp or all three courses for £86pp. Similarly The Links Trust have for the month of March this fantastic offer for their St Andrews Castle Course.
Aside the obvious price savings across all aspects of your trip the real benefit is the increase in availability and the flexibility this provides. All member courses remain open throughout the winter season, while the visitor only courses such as Trump Scotland, Castle Stuart and Kingsbarns all open for play around the end of March. Simply, the less visitors will increase your chances of playing the often limited visitor availability golf courses such as The Old Course, St Andrews, and other Open Championship venues.
With this all interlinked, the quieter periods and increased availability can for some create a more enjoyable experience knowing that golf can be played at a pace that suits. Travelling around Scotland can be done less rigidly than those who travel in high season where availability is limited and often transfers between courses are tight.
2. Mild Winter Weather
Bad weather and Scotland often go hand in hand but this winter certain areas of Scotland have escaped with dry, mild weather. In contrast the traditional, wetter areas in Scotland have had a deluge of bad weather resulting in many courses being partly closed throughout the offseason.
Much of Eastern Scotland is sheltered from the rain-bearing westerly winds. This shelter reaches its greatest potential along the coasts of East Lothian, Fife and the Moray Firth and these areas receive less than 700 mm of rainfall in an average year. In contrast, the wettest area is the southern Grampians where the average annual rainfall is over 1500 mm. These values can be compared with annual totals around 500 mm in the driest parts of eastern England and over 4000 mm in the western Scottish Highlands.
Nicola Maxey of the UK Government weather agency Met Office noted, “Annual average rainfall shows a pronounced east-west contrast. Western areas are exposed to rain-bearing westerly winds with orographic enhancement, whereas eastern areas are within a pronounced rain-shadow. The West Highlands are the wettest area, receiving over 3000mm per year widely, more still on western up-slopes. Coastal fringes of Moray, Fife and Lothian are driest with less than 700mm.”
The mild, drier weather ensured golf courses on Scotland’s North and East coasts could benefit from some prolonged growth on greens and worn areas while extensive improvement works could be implemented. A visiting golfer should therefore expect a few new surprises in the shape of bunkers new or restored together with an all round well conditioned golf course. Regions you must consider are North Highlands, Moray (between Aberdeen and Inverness) and East Lothian, Scotland’s Golf Coast.
3. Beat The Crowds
As a past blog post explains 5 Brilliant Moments for Scottish Golf tourism in 2014 Scotland will attract a huge amount of extra visitors to Scotland this year for a host of different reasons. From working within the golf tourism industry here in Scotland and talking with various golf tour operators it is very apparent that demand for Scottish golf travel is higher this year than it has been for a very long time. The golfing world will be fixated on Scotland this year so why not grab the limelight early and be part of a very special 12 months for The Home of Golf. Of course the weather is never predictable nor is your ‘A’ game compulsory in Scotland but what can be guaranteed is a great golfing experience. It is in the morning that the unseen is seen, and the beauty and glory revealed.