Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get a time on the St Andrews Old course?

We've a separate page about getting St Andrews Old course times.

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Do I need a handicap certificate or official handicap?

Some Scottish golf courses request that all golfers are able to provide official proof of handicap. A letter from your club is generally not sufficient. We have tried to highlight this requirement on all courses listed. The requirement should also be clearly shown on the course booking conditions either on the golf course website or in the information they send you.

Some courses also have minimum handicap requirements for visiting golfers. Always be ready to show proof of handicap before play at these courses to avoid being possibly refused on the course. Courses with handicap limits include the Carnoustie Championship course, Elie, Gullane No 1, Muirfield, Nairn Championship course, Prestwick, Royal Aberdeen, Royal Troon and the St Andrews Old course.

Where applicable the minimum requirements are shown against the golf courses in our course listings.

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How long does it take to play a round of golf in Scotland?

On almost all Scottish golf courses 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours is considered more than enough time to complete 18 holes. Courses appreciate if visitors aim to complete in a similar time.

On courses with large numbers of visitors a round may well take longer, for example, unless you have an early time on the St Andrews Old course you are unlikely to get round in 4 hours.

Be aware of the local etiquette of waving through the group behind if you fall more than a full hole behind the group in front.

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How far ahead should we book?

The simple answer is as far ahead as possible.

Top tier courses will accept bookings from the summer before play. St Andrews Old course advance bookings are open in the August/September the year before play. Muirfield open bookings in early spring the year before play so you need to be organised well in advance of your travel dates to secure your tee-time at Muirfield.

As a general rule if you have specific courses that you want to play on your trip, ensure there will be availability on your chosen dates before confirming and paying for accommodation. The more important to you a course is to play, or the more costly your chosen accommodation, the more important this will be.

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When should we visit?

The main golfing season in Scotland is April to end September. The weather is generally better, but that doesn't mean you won't get cold days and driving rain in the middle of June. Scotland's weather is famously changeable. April can be a beautiful month, August might have wet and windy days! Overall on average July is the warmest month, May is the driest and August and September two of the wettest months - but the averages hide a wide range of conditions in any given month.

Golf can be played outside of these months, as golf is a year round sport in Scotland. Links and sand-based courses enjoy particularly favourable conditions for staying open all year. Green fees may reduce outside the main season but be aware that snow and hard frosts can be an issue in the winter months, and even in early Spring, and clearly temperatures will be lower. In the low season golf courses may require the use of fairway mats, or may limit buggy use to protect the course. Winter greens or winter tees may also be in play.

Kingsbarns, Castle Stuart and Trump International courses close over the winter months, while Royal Troon only accepts visitors between mid April and the start of October.

Daylight hours are also important - in June in St Andrews earliest sunrise is just before 4:30 am and latest sunset just after 10:00 pm. In early October, before the clocks change, sunrise in St Andrews will be around 07:30 am and sunset 6:30 pm. Move closer to winter and sunset in St Andrews in mid-November is 4pm.

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Will I get my deposit payments back if we cancel the trip?

In Scotland a non-refundable deposit or payment means exactly that, it is non-refundable, whatever the circumstances. Be sure to check the payment terms and conditions of courses, accommodation or other services before confirming your booking with a payment.

We strongly recommend travel insurance to cover the consequences of unforeseen cancellations and cover this separately.

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Can we get ride on buggies? / Do we have to walk?

Ride on buggies are becoming available on a larger number of courses but numbers may be limited or use may be restricted to golfers with medical conditions. In Scotland walking is still very much the norm.

We have highlighted where possible on the golf course listings where buggies are available and if restrictions apply. At some courses, for example Prestwick and all the St Andrews courses, the buggy must be driven on behalf of the golfer by a caddie.

It is extremely important to request a ride on buggy at the time of booking if you will need one.

When planning your golf itinerary consider how often you normally walk a full round. Be realistic about your fitness levels and if you are really going to enjoy walking and playing six challenging championship courses on consecutive days. We know of visiting golfers, who have spent a considerable sum to be in Scotland, having to miss out on rounds booked because the overall itinerary was simply too ambitious.

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Is it easy to get a caddie

We cover caddies separately.

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What practice facilities can we expect at the courses?

Most Scottish courses do not have driving ranges - they were simply not a consideration when the courses were created all those years ago. There are exceptions, such as at Gullane or Crail, but as a rule only the very recent courses offer full length practice areas, such as Kingsbarns, Dundonald, Machrihanish Dunes or Castle Stuart.

At other courses facilities may be restricted to a practice net (if even that is available) and some putting holes.

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What should I wear

On the course - smart casual golf gear with collared shirts and golfing trousers. Most courses do not permit denim trousers and many do not permit collarless shirts or for men to wear sleeveless shirts. Trainers, runners or sneakers should not be worn on most courses or in most clubhouses.

Tailored shorts are acceptable but not football style shorts. Some courses have very specific dress codes, for example requiring white or dark coloured socks if shorts are worn (Muirfield).

It is always best to check the dress code advised on the course website, or on your booking confirmation, to avoid potential embarrassment during your visit to the course.

In the clubhouse - Smart casual dress as on the course, but with a change of shoes, is perfectly acceptable wear in almost all clubhouses. Some clubhouses may have specific rooms where a jacket and tie is required, for example Muirfield after 10am or the Dining Room and Member's Bar at Prestwick Golf Club.

Hats should be removed when indoors at all golf clubs.

For the weather - As Scotland is famous for very changeable weather layering is the best approach. This allows you to add or remove a layer as the temperature changes during your round. All golfers should have a windproof outerlayer and a good quality rainsuit. A woolly hat can be appreciated regardless of the time of year, particularly on links courses which are more exposed to coastal winds.

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What is the currency and what's the best way to pay for purchases?

The currency in Scotland is pounds sterling, denoted by the sign £.

We do not recommend carrying large quantities of cash and suggest using ATMs to withdraw cash as needed. Credit cards can be used for most purchases although small shops may have a minimum spend limit.

Mastercard and Visa are the most commonly accepted credit cards. American Express is also accepted but in fewer places. Chip and pin is the standard format of payment but stores should be able to accept a signature if your card is not chip and pin compatible.

Advise your bank and card provider that you will be abroad to avoid any issues with payment authorisations.

There are three Scottish banks which issue their own banknotes - The Royal Bank of Scotland, the Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank - in addition to The Bank of England. All are perfectly legitimate currency in Scotland, although you may find some reluctance for Scottish notes to be accepted outside the country. We have even heard of overseas banks charging a less favourable rate for changing Scottish notes to local currency over Bank of England notes. So perhaps best to spend your Scottish notes before leaving the country, unless you want a souvenir.

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What should I tip?

Tipping can be a fractious topic as the custom varies hugely in different countries. There isn't a big culture of tipping in Scotland.

If you want to follow most of the locals, when in Scotland in restaurants a tip of between 10-15% is normal if you receive good service. If a service charge has already been included on your bill you do not need to tip on top of this. Do not feel you need to leave a tip if you have not received good service.

Bar staff are not generally tipped, but some customers may leave the loose change from a round for the tip jar. If you are in a bar for more than one drink and have the same server you might offer them 'one for yourself' which they will take as money for a tip.

Taxi drivers are not given a set tip but for standard within city trips customers often round up the fare to the nearest pound, or add an extra pound on top as a tip.

If you have a driver on your trip then it would generally be expected for each member of the group to contribute to a tip at the end of your stay, reflecting the service given. It's difficult to give hard and fast guidance on this as time with the driver, group numbers and service will vary, but as a very rough base if you've had a week long tour for 6-8 golfers a driver would expect a gratuity of at least £25-£40 per member of the group for a job well done.

You do not need to tip housekeeping in hotels. Tipping is not generally otherwise expected.

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Does weather cancel play?

Rain in Scotland is not in itself a reason for play to be cancelled. You put on your rain suit and carry on.

If the course is declared closed to play you will normally be given the option to re-schedule your round. If this is not possible you are likely to receive a refund of the green fees. If you choose not to play because you don't like the conditions but the course is open you will not receive a refund.

In certain circumstances courses may be closed to due to adverse conditions - fog may make play unsafe, as may excessive rain. Links courses are more likely to close due to fog than rain as the sandy soil is very effective at soaking up the water. The east coast of Scotland can be affected from time to time by dense sea haar.

Outside of the main season inland courses are more susceptible to frosts which may delay the start of play.

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Have you visited our blog? We like to think of it as a mini-magazine of helpful articles for anyone planning a visit to Scotland to play golf. Our blog supplements our Tour Planning section with regular new additions. We've even provided a helpful summary of past articles so it's easy to find what might interest you.