There are several myths about golf but arguably none as erroneous as the claim that it is too expensive and a game that only those with a significant amount of disposable income can afford to play.
Whilst this may have been an accurate representation of the game back in the sport’s early days, it is wrong to describe it in such terms these days.
The reality is that it is a sport that anybody – regardless of their age, gender, race, social status, bank balance or ability – can play.
Nowhere is this better demonstrated than right here in Scotland, the birthplace of the game.
With over 550 courses to choose from, you have an immense variety of places to play, with something to fit every budget.
1 - Do your research
It doesn’t matter whether you have £200 to spend on a green fee or only £20 – Scotland has a golf course for you. The trick is to do your research.
Invest the time in finding something to suit your budget and we guarantee you’ll have to invest less of your hard-earned cash. Pick up the phone and/or send emails. The overwhelming majority of clubs will be eager to cater to your needs and wants.
2 - Look for seasonal rates
The vast majority of Scottish courses don’t cost the same to play all year round. Rather, they vary their green fees depending on the season. For example, in the peak summer months, you can justifiably expect to pay top dollar. However, in the off-peak or so-called ‘shoulder’ months, which typically run from October to March, you’ll most likely find they are significantly cheaper to play.
3 - Check for twilight rates
For many Scots, early evening is the best time to play in the home of golf. Many courses offer ‘twilight’ rates that are well below the standard green fee. There’s actually a lot to be said for playing golf in Scotland as the sun sets on a clear evening. The long shadows and bright vibrant colours are something special to behold.
4 - Try a golf pass
Golf passes are another brilliant way to experience lots of different courses for a fraction of the price. These tend to be coordinated by regional golf groups and they genuinely represent terrific value as the courses all work together to encourage visitors.
From the ‘First in Fife Golf Pass’, which offers discounts of up to 25% on golf in the ‘Kingdom’, to the Dornoch Firth Golf Pass, which allows you to play five of the best links on the banks of the eponymous Firth for 75% of the price, there are great deals to be had. The VisitScotland website has details of all of the best golf passes to choose from. Click here for more.
5 - Use a tour operator
Don’t have the time to organise your break yourself? Get someone qualified and in-the-know to do it for you. Also, additional discounts can be found by booking through a recognised tour operator. They will be able to create bespoke packages and exciting itineraries tailored to your budget and may even be able to negotiate further reductions given the strong pre-existing relationships they have with the courses you want to play.
6 - Ask for group discounts
The bigger the group, the more chance you have of saving some pennies. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount if you’re booking on behalf of a large group of golfers. Most clubs will be only too happy to accommodate your request.
7 - Check for reciprocal schemes
If you’re a golf club member, check if your membership entitles you to reduced rates at other courses. Many clubs are part of reciprocal schemes – for instance, the ‘Association of James Braid Courses’ or other partnerships with clubs formed in the same year as them – which allow members to play on these other courses for less than normal.
Some courses allow reciprocal rates at ‘partner’ courses in different geographical locations so that members get extra value to their membership. Ask your club for the list of those courses – you might be in luck.
8 - Big name discounts
Additional special rates worth exploring are the Scottish Golf member rates available at venues such as Castle Stuart, Kingsbarns and The Renaissance. A number of Open venues also offer some seasonal rates that are well worth looking into. These Scottish Golf offers – only open to club members – allow you to play world-class ‘top tier’ courses at a fraction of the cost.
9 - Search for 'Opens'
If you have a handicap, search for golf club ‘Opens’, which represent a great opportunity to play courses at a substantial reduction in the standard green fee – sometimes over 60% - whilst also enjoying some competitive golf. Scotland has amongst the busiest ‘Open’ scene in Britain.
So, forget anything you might have been told about golf being a rich man’s game. Here in Scotland, it’s a game for all, no matter how deep your pockets go.
10 - Look for 'Stay & Play' deals
A significant number of golf courses in Scotland have forged fantastic relationships with local accommodation providers. This is particularly good news for visiting golfers as it, more often than not, gives you the opportunity to build a ‘stay and play’ bundle - usually at a heavily subsidised rate.
Find out more
For more information on golf in Scotland, log-on to visitscotland.com/golf or click here to read a digital copy of the Official Guide To Golf In Scotland, a comprehensive guide to playing in the cradle in the game.