Play an Amateur Open Competition on your Golf Tour

Golf Vacations in Scotland (or U.K. and Ireland)

Join in with the locals. Play to win.

As a promotion for 2016/17, we will make no charge for arranging this part of your golf tour

By Adrian Stanley, Proprietor AGS Golf

Most Golf Tour Operators who market tours in UK and Ireland for International golfers offer fairly similar Tours. They compete mainly on customer service and price.

In 20 years of providing first-class tours to discerning golfers, we have never been asked to book a client into a local Open Amateur Tournament. We decided to look into this opportunity for our clients.

I played in the three day Andalucía Pro-Am in Spain recently and the excitement of playing in a good competition on an excellent course stayed with me for some time.

Clearly many keen golfers when touring would enjoy the ‘edge’ that comes from a well-organised competition. It offers a clear distinction from playing with your tour group each day. There are also opportunities to play as a team which is a really cool form of challenge.

I decided that instead of debating this in the office from time to time we would get our researcher to do a proper appraisal. This was to cover initially Scotland and then England, Wales and Ireland.

The guidelines were:

  • Start with an in-depth look at Scotland, popular with our clients.
  • Focus only on excellent golf courses that we would recommend.
  • Cover our main season May to September.
  • Avoid Amateur Tour competitions for scratch and very low handicap players.
  • Select competitions that are suitable for holiday golfers, typically say 4 to 24 handicaps for men.
  • Consider competitions for all usual forms of golf, stroke play, match play, stableford, texas scrambles. Consider Mens Individual, Pairs, Seniors and Team Competitions.

There are thousands of these amateur competitions throughout the UK and Ireland. An initial check on Scotland revealed:

Rural golfing areas of low population – Highlands, North East and Heartland (St Andrews and Carnoustie areas) offer more quality courses hosting amateur open competitions for vacation golfers.

It is likely that areas of high population have more members per golf club making it more difficult to accommodate visiting competitors. This finding was true for single-day competitions and particularly for 2 to 5 day events.

Our finding was further tested with a quick survey in England and Wales. The result was the same; quality courses in rural areas hold more amateur open competitions than high quality clubs in highly populated areas.

We then selected and examined competition schedules for 5 links and 2 inland courses in the Scottish Highland and six links courses in North East Scotland. These two areas can form a two location tour.

We studied 20 weeks commencing 2nd May to 7th September 2015. The results were very encouraging. Each of the 20 weeks had at least one and often more single-day competition suitable for Men. Just over 60% of the weeks also had a single day Seniors Tournament.

This was ‘a result’ as it proved that through the main season any group that we booked should be able to enjoy one or even two competition days. The only limitation would be the closing dates for each event, so early booking is favoured.

We believe that the result would be similar for tours covering Highlands and St Andrews areas or North East and St Andrews areas.

There are also two to five day competitions, some played over different courses. However, there are far less of these even in the rural areas and tours including them would need to be flexible in their dates to match a group vacation with a suitable event.

Summing Up
We could book any group of golfers, who plan their golf vacation well in advance, into one or even two local Amateur Open Competitions.

More quality courses will are available in rural areas. For example, Royal Dornoch in the Northern Scotland area, with a top 20 World ranking is available to golfers up to 24 handicaps, sometimes 27.

Entry fees for Open Amateur competitions are generally cheaper than the normal green fees.

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