The below topics cover many of the questions we are frequently asked. Please have a browse through this information to help you in planning your trip and let us know if you have any questions.
The unit of currency in Southern Ireland is the Euro, while the British Pound is used in the six counties of Northern Ireland (Derry, Antrim, Down, Tyrone, Armagh & Fermanagh). The unit of currency in Scotland is the British Pound. Cash is easily accessed in the banks or more conveniently through any ATM machine.
Cash or Credit Cards
Bringing a small amount of cash with you is a good idea but remember that cash can be easily accessed through ATM machines, which are always accessible and the exchange rates are normally competitive via this route. Credit cards are accepted pretty much everywhere, including shops, bars and restaurants so you will not need to pay for everything in cash. Cash will be required for small purchases and important for caddy payments.
In order to guard against enforced late cancellation, we would always recommend that you take out appropriate travel insurance. In reality, we will always do our best to make sure that our clients are not left out of pocket but the later the cancellation takes place, the harder this can become. The only way to 100% guard against unforeseen late cancellation, including flight expenses, is to take out appropriate travel insurance.
In terms of weather, it’s impossible to predict the best time to travel. Anytime from late April through mid-October is a good time to travel and this period offers a good chance of nice weather. The days are at their longest from May through September and the temperatures probably at their best during that period. You can expect the daily temperatures to be in the 60’s or possibly low 70’s during the peak season but there is always the chance of a few rain showers. Any wet weather is unlikely to be prolonged, while you can also be very pleasantly surprised and go through an entire week with perfectly calm and dry weather conditions. In short, be prepared.
Caddies are not essential but given the type of courses you are likely to play in Ireland and Scotland, they are certainly beneficial. Caddies are available at most courses and should be requested in advance through Dunbar Golf Tours. The cost per bag in Southern Ireland is normally about €45 per bag plus a recommended gratuity of €15 per bag, while in Northern Ireland, the cost is generally £40 per bag plus gratuity of £10 to £15 per bag. In Scotland, caddies generally carry just one bag and the cost is usually about £45 per bag plus a £15 gratuity. Caddies are always payable in cash. Remember that caddies do not take credit card so be prepared.
Buggies / Golf Carts
It’s always best to experience these golf courses by walking them if possible. Golf carts (or buggies as they are also called) are not commonplace so keep that in mind. Some courses do allow buggies but even then, they should be requested in advance. Other courses allow buggies but only on medical grounds so in these instances, you will need to produce a doctor’s cert on the day. Other venues do not allow carts under any circumstances. We can discuss this during the booking process but do remember that carts are limited in availability.
Playing St Andrews
There are a variety of ways to play St Andrews Old Course in Scotland but the key to this process is early booking. The ballot can work very well and this is essentially a lottery system that is drawn on a daily basis. We can manage this process for you and the chance of success over a number of days in St Andrews are good. This is the most cost-effective way to schedule the Old Course and is a particularly good option for smaller groups of up to four golfers. There are a variety of other ways (ranging in price) to secure a guaranteed Old Course time in advance. If you intend to play St Andrews in 2016, you should be discussing the options by August 2015.
You will not be required to produce handicap verification at most courses but if playing either Muirfield or St Andrews Old Course in Scotland, you will be asked for handicap verification so you should come prepared. This should state your full name, official handicap and home golf club.
In general, it’s best to plan as far in advance as possible. It also depends on the golf courses you intend to play but certainly if you are planning to play St Andrews or Muirfield then you should plan at least 12 months in advance (more if possible). Availability can also be tight at other key courses for a variety of reasons so for larger groups in particular (both for golf courses and hotels), it’s also important to book well in advance. Later booking can also be effective but the later you leave it, the more likely there may be an issue with availability.
Soft spikes are required for most golf courses but are rarely allowed in the clubhouse so you will need to bring a change of shoes to the golf course each day. Golfing attire should include a collared golf shirt and if wearing shorts, they should be of the tailored variety. You will not generally require a jacket and tie but they would be required for lunch at Muirfield and would also not be out of place at some fine dining restaurants.
The temptation will be to bring too much because of uncertainty about the weather but you should be conscious to pack layers of light clothing (easy to put on and take off) rather than heavy garments. We would recommend a golf umbrella, a good supply of golf balls, two pairs of golf shoes (if possible), a good set of golfing rain-wear, tailored golfing shorts, some light golf tops (preferably shower and wind resistant), three golf gloves, lip balm and sun-cream. These items are all easily purchased at the golf courses but they do tend to be that bit more expensive. Remember that you are as likely to experience good weather as showers so you should pack accordingly.
All drivers will require a full driver’s license from their home country, along with a credit card to secure the booking. Rental vehicles in both Ireland and Scotland come with standard legal insurances but you would still be liable for an excess amount should any damage be caused to the vehicle during the rental period. You will have the option of taking out additional insurance on collection of the vehicle to reduce the excess amount and we would always recommend that you take that option for additional peace of mind.
Electricity is supplied in the United Kingdom and Ireland at 220 Volts. You will likely require adaptors for your electrical appliances (phones, razors, laptops etc.) and while these are sometimes available at the hotels, you are best to pick up the appropriate electrical adaptor at your departure airport. They are readily available and not expensive so just make sure that you pick one up that is compatible with the UK and Ireland.
Wi-Fi Availability / Mobile Phones
The majority of good hotels and guesthouses that we recommend will have free Wi-Fi available. Be wary of roaming charges on your mobile phone as accessing data via your phone network alone can be very expensive. You should contact your phone company prior to departure to check the best international options for phone use.